Nursing Interview Question: “Tell Us About Yourself”

The main topic of every interview is you. The company and interviewers want to get to know you as a person, not just your skills, work experience, and academic credentials. Each company has its own culture, and we often spend more time at work than with anyone else in our lives. One person with a bad personality (or attitude) can have a negative impact on the rest of the team and the work environment.

Interviewers want to know if you’re the type of person who works hard and stays with a company. They’re curious about what drives you and what brought you to them. If it comes down to you and another equally qualified candidate, they’ll choose the person they believe will fit in the best and work the hardest.

About You

Many people have difficulty talking about themselves. You don’t want to come across as arrogant, gushing about your own abilities, but you also don’t want to come across as lacking confidence in yourself. It’s a fine line to walk, but these types of questions allow you to demonstrate your personality and strengths while also setting the tone for the rest of the interview.

Please Tell Me About Yourself

One of the most frequently asked questions in this category isn’t typically phrased as a question. “Tell me about yourself” is a very broad question. You might be wondering what they’re asking. Are they inquiring about your family and personal life? What about your education? What is your work experience? What are your interests?

The interviewer wants to know what you believe is the most important information they should be aware of. This is where planning ahead of time and utilizing your nursing assessment skills come into play — you’ve reviewed the company and the job description, so you’re familiar with their mission statement and the skills they value. Your response is an opportunity to demonstrate how well your skills fit into that mission.

However, a word of caution: there are some approaches to avoid when answering this question:

  • Do not rehash your resume. A resume is a detailed summary of your work history. The interviewers have already read it and will most likely read it again if you make a good impression during the interview.
  • Avoid getting too personal. A potential employer does not need to know what religion you identify with, whether you are married, or any other personal information that you would not normally share with an employer.
  • Don’t start a monologue. They don’t need to know everything there is to know about you. Trying to tell them everything will almost certainly result in your response losing focus.

Consider the following helpful hints when answering this question:

  • Adapt. Create your response based on what you know the interviewer is looking for. You’ve researched the company’s mission and values, and you know what they’re looking for based on their job description. Your response will change depending on the company you interview with.
  • Make your point. While you can begin with broad statements such as “my best strength is my ability to remain calm under pressure,” back up your claims with specific examples. Was there a time when staying calm at work or school made a difference?
  • Make use of examples. As always, support your answers with both personal and professional experiences.
  • Maintain your concentration. Concentrate on just a few key points. Begin with your resume’s top one or two most important points or strengths.

Finally, when crafting your response, consider where you’ve been and where you’re going. Begin by discussing your activities prior to applying for this job, and then conclude with a brief explanation of why you’re interviewing.

For instance, I’ve been in nursing school at [university] for a few years and recently passed the NCLEX-RN exam. During the school year, I worked part-time as an LPN in a rehabilitation facility on swing shift. I enjoyed the variety of skills I learned and used while assisting patients in regaining their independence. I’ve discovered that I’m most interested in working with [this patient demographic] now that I have my RN license and have completed clinicals in a variety of specialties, and I know your facility is one of the best in the state.

What are your advantages and disadvantages?

Strengths and weaknesses are usually asked separately, but the approach to answering them is roughly the same. You don’t want to come across as arrogant, nor do you want to come across as self-critical. Pick strengths and weaknesses that you have experience with to back up your answers to whatever question you are answering.

For example, my greatest strength is that I like to stay on top of things. When I had free time at my previous job, I would assess the patient schedule and the supplies we had on the floor, and if anything was running low, I would fully restock it so no one had to run around looking for supplies when we were busy. It saved us time while also being courteous to my coworkers.

In my previous job, my coworkers used to remind me to ask for help when things got hectic. I’d become overly focused on what needed to be done. I expected it to be done to my exacting standards and would become irritated if it wasn’t. It took several years of constant conscious effort for me to learn to rely on my coworkers and trust that they could do the job just as well as I could.

Concerning Your Motives

Employers frequently inquire about your motivations. Whatever drove you to where you are now will most likely influence how well you do your job and how long you stay.

Why did you decide to become a nurse?

Even if the interviewer does not ask you this, it is an important question to consider. Can you recall the moment you decided to become a nurse? Or perhaps a series of events led to that decision.

This question can also be phrased differently; they may ask what you consider to be the most difficult or rewarding aspect of being a nurse. These questions frequently relate to why you chose to become a nurse in the first place. Be personal, as this is a very personal response, but remain professional.

For example, I initially pursued nursing because I have many family members who work in the field, such as my aunt and grandmother, and it seemed like a stable job that also made a significant difference in people’s lives. Then I started working as a CNA and discovered how difficult it was! But it was also extremely rewarding. I recall a patient at my first CNA job who was extremely difficult to get along with. Because of his medical conditions, he was unable to speak and was confined to a wheelchair. He didn’t seem to like many people. When he had an emergency once, I jumped right in to help without hesitation. After that, he approached me and took my hand, and even though he couldn’t speak, I could tell by his tone and eye contact how much he appreciated my assistance and patience. Memories like that helped me get through nursing school and reminded me why I wanted to be a nurse in the first place: to help people.

Why did you leave your previous job?

Answers to this question should be honest, but avoid criticizing your previous or current employer. This type of question is frequently used by interviewers to determine whether you will bring a negative attitude to their company or if you will not stay for a long time. Employers do not want to invest in someone who is unlikely to make the time spent in training worthwhile.

For example, I enjoy my current job because it focuses on patient outcomes and what is best for our patients, but I’ve grown too accustomed to the routine. Furthermore, there are few opportunities for advancement in management. I’m looking for a chance to expand my skills and knowledge, as well as a chance to advance in my career.

Why do you want this position?

This question frequently relates directly to the previous one. Most people do not look for work unless something about their current or previous job has prompted them to do so. Even if the interviewer does not directly ask this question, they will want to know why and will look for that reason to come up in every answer you provide.

Consider why you applied for this job and why you want to interview for it. Sure, it could be that it sounded interesting or that it is close to where you live. Perhaps it was just one of dozens of jobs you applied for. These reasons aren’t required to be mentioned.

Why would you accept this job if it was offered to you? What makes you think they want you to say yes? This relates to the company research you conducted prior to the interview. Tell them why their facility in particular piques your interest and why the job itself is a good fit for you.

Examples: Before moving to another state, one of my friends used to work for your company and would often tell me how much she enjoyed it. She would explain to me how your company treats both its employees and its customers with the same level of care and respect. I also know that your hospitals are frequently on the cutting edge of new medical advances, such as pioneering heart surgeries, and I admire a company that is always looking ahead.

I’m especially interested in this position because I’ve always wanted to work in an emergency room since I did my nursing clinicals. I enjoy the challenge and knowledge that comes from having each day and each patient case be unique.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

An interviewer wants to know if hiring you is worthwhile. At the end of the day, they are concerned with what is best for their employees as well as the company’s bottom line. If it appears that you will not stay long enough to make the cost of training worthwhile, they will likely hire someone who will.

This question could be about your career goals or how you define success, but they all want to know the same thing: how does this job fit into your long-term plans? If you don’t know the answer to that question, give it some thought.

For example, my plan is to gain the knowledge, experience, and confidence necessary to take on a managerial-type role over the next five years. I understand that your company prefers to hire and promote from within, and I would like to work for companies that encourage employee growth.

Congratulations, you now have strategies for answering these personal questions, which will hopefully allow your interviewers to get to know the best version of you. In the following section, we’ll look at another type of question: how well you collaborate with others.

Athina Iliadis is a Human Resources Professional with over 25 years’ experience in corporate environments working for companies such as Pearson, LexisNexis, Hershey, and Reckitt. In her current role as a consultant working with clients around the world, she coaches managers and employees on HR issues, supports leaders in their business, produces content about careers, interviews, and job opportunities. She is fluent in English, French and Greek, and she holds a BBA with a major in HR from Université du Québec à Montréal. Find her on LinkedIn and at

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