Nursing Interviews: How to Answer About Strengths & Weaknesses

We all want to do our jobs well. Helping the sick and poor, treating patients with compassion and respect, cultivating friendly relationships with fellow nurses and other healthcare professionals, and seeing a meaningful purpose in what we do for a living. Although it is easier to achieve such a wonderful balance in nursing, it is still a difficult task. Hiring managers wonder if your weaknesses will prevent you from trying. They also want to know about your strengths and that you are confident in your ability to become a great nurse and thrive in this beautiful yet difficult job. Furthermore, on your nursing peer review, you may be required to provide some strengths and weaknesses of others… But let’s get back to the actual interview.

As a general rule, choose strengths that are essential to the job and weaknesses that either do not play a significant role or, if they do, can be easily addressed with some effort on your part. There are also more creative ways to answer this question, which we will look at in my list of 7 sample answers. Don’t forget to keep reading because in the final section of this post I explain why hiring managers ask you this question and what they most want to hear from you.

7 sample responses to the interview question “What are your strengths and weaknesses as a nurse (nurse practitioner)?”

  1. My communication skills stand out in my experience. As a nurse, I encounter patients in a variety of mental and physical states, but I always find a way to communicate with them, to understand their needs and desires, and to offer the appropriate words. It is extremely beneficial in my nursing work because you cannot provide what your patient wants and needs unless you know what they want and need. In terms of weaknesses, I continue to struggle with computer work, particularly with medical software programs. But I understand that it is an important part of our job nowadays, and I am determined to improve my skills with the software that you use in your hospital.
  2. My greatest weakness is undoubtedly a lack of experience. This is my first job application for a nursing position, and while I had some hands-on experience during my studies, I truly believe that you cannot simulate the conditions of a real job. I know that some things will be difficult for me, and that I may need the assistance of my colleagues at first. But I’m looking forward to the process and excited to finally apply for my first nursing job, and I believe that my positive attitude will help me overcome the challenges and eventually become an important member of the nursing team.
  3. My attention to detail, responsibility, and vigilance are among my strongest suits. It is one of the reasons I am applying for an ICU nursing position, as I believe my skills and personality are a good fit for this position. I, too, have flaws, just like everyone else. I can be impatient at times and have a habit of expecting too much from my coworkers. However, as you can see, I am aware of my flaws. Perhaps the job with you will allow me to improve on these skills and take my nursing to the next level.
  4. My attitude toward nursing is my greatest strength, in my opinion. Nursing is more than a job or a way to make a living for me. I see being a nurse practitioner as my calling, my personal mission, and something I want to devote my entire life to. This attitude pervades everything I do at work, and the patients can tell the difference. My biggest weakness is that I am not physically strong and may struggle to move patients or perform certain physical tasks that nurses must perform. However, in such a situation, I can always ask a colleague for assistance, and I do not consider this weakness to be something that would prevent me from doing an excellent nursing job.
  5. To be honest, I don’t know what my strengths and weaknesses as a nurse are yet. I’ve never had the job before, and I honestly believe you need to do the work—any type of work—for at least a few weeks to be able to identify areas where you excel and areas where you struggle. And, like any other nurse, I’m sure I’ll struggle in some areas while excelling in others. Once I’ve identified my weaknesses, I’ll do everything I can to learn and improve on them. Because I do not aspire to be a nurse. I aspire to be a great nurse, someone who makes a difference in the lives of their patients.
  6. My greatest asset is my experience. I’ve been a mental health nurse for fifteen years, in two different settings. Any situation involving a psychiatric patient that you can imagine, including potentially dangerous situations, I am sure I have encountered at least a couple of times. This enables me to make sound decisions, take precautions, and address issues as they arise, and I would be delighted to bring this experience to your psychiatric ward. But I have one flaw that I would dearly love to overcome. I get emotionally involved in cases at times, especially when it involves a young patient, say, eighteen or twenty years old, an alcoholic, a drug addict, and so on. I find these cases extremely sad, and it sometimes bothers me. But I’m hoping to learn to keep my distance, because it’s always important to keep our professional distance and avoid bringing problems from work home.
  7. My greatest strength, at least when it comes to nursing, is emotional intelligence. Patients feel comfortable confiding in me because I am an excellent listener with a deep understanding of how they feel and experience emotions when facing a risky operation or recovering from one. It assists me in selecting the appropriate words and actions every time. On the other hand, I need to work on my punctuality. Being a little late has been a bad habit of mine since elementary school. I realize I can’t afford it in the hospital…

For the interviewers, your attitude is more important than your actual strengths and weaknesses.

No weakness is a deal breaker in interviews if you demonstrate a willingness to improve on it. The same holds true for nursing peer review. Because ideal nurses do not exist, and hiring managers are well aware of this fact. They are not looking for someone who claims to have no flaws. Quite the contrary. They want to hire nurses who aren’t afraid to admit they have a weakness, but who also aren’t satisfied with the status quo and aspire to be the best nurses they can be.

Keep it in mind when answering this question. In clinical practice, you should not simply list your strengths and weaknesses. Always try to elaborate on your response. Explain how your strengths will help you provide excellent patient care, and assure the interviewers that you want to improve on your weaknesses.

Working experience is the answer when you don’t know what to say.

Many people have difficulty understanding and naming their own strengths and weaknesses. Or they simply cannot recall the appropriate words in the heat of the moment, especially if they suffer from interview anxiety. It can happen to anyone, including yourself.

If you’re at a loss for words, you can always rely on your previous work experience. Because every single nurse (nurse practitioner, nursing student) either has or does not have experience. It is always an advantage and a strength to have some nursing experience under your belt. Because you’ve already faced the job’s challenges and are better prepared for them than a newcomer.

On the other hand, when applying for your first nursing job, you can highlight your lack of experience as your greatest weakness. Though you have the right attitude for this job and want to do your best with every patient, certain things cannot be simulated in school and will be difficult for you at first…

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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