How To Answer Questions About Weakness for Nursing Interview

By Indeed Editorial Team

October 4, 2021

Often, hiring managers include questions about weaknesses during nursing interviews to assess your qualifications. They may also ask about your strengths. Forming a thoughtful response to questions about your strengths and weaknesses is an important part of completing a nursing interview successfully. In this article, we discuss the reasons hiring managers may ask about weaknesses in a nursing interview and offer advice on how to discuss your weaknesses and your strengths.

Related: Top Nursing Interview Tips

Why do hiring managers ask about weaknesses in a nursing interview?

Hiring managers ask questions about weaknesses during nursing interviews for a variety of reasons, including:

Evaluating your self-awareness

Being able to assess your own strengths and weaknesses is an important part of receiving feedback, applying criticism and improving as a healthcare professional. During a nursing interview, hiring managers may ask questions about your weaknesses to evaluate your level of self-awareness and your ability to reflect on your own work performance objectively.

Assessing how you strive for improvement

Often, hiring managers want to hear how you actively strive to improve your nursing skills and abilities. During an interview, they may ask questions about weaknesses, hoping you will provide additional information that may help them assess how you work toward professional growth and your motivation to improve as a nurse.

Ensuring your weaknesses won't affect patient care

Working as a healthcare professional comes with the responsibility of providing safe and proper care to patients. Hiring managers may ask questions about weakness during a nursing interview to ensure that the areas of improvement you describe do not compromise the safety of your patients.

Measuring how you handle pressure

Sometimes, nurses work in stressful and high-pressure situations and must remain calm and able to complete their duties. A hiring manager may ask you questions about weaknesses to evaluate how well you operate under pressure and your ability to maintain effective communication while experiencing varying levels of stress.

Related: 6 Tips To Help You Prepare For a Nursing Interview

How to talk about weaknesses in your nursing interview

Organizing and preparing your thoughts before a nursing interview can help you answer questions about weakness more effectively and confidently. Below is a helpful guide to help you discuss your weaknesses during a nursing interview:

1. Reflect on your weaknesses

Before forming your interview answers about weaknesses, it's important to reflect on the areas where you can improve. Think honestly of times in your nursing career that you've felt you could've performed more successfully and consider the circumstances that influenced your performance. When brainstorming your weaknesses, consider using this list of common nursing weaknesses to get started:

  • Spending too much time on paperwork

  • Paying too much attention to detail

  • Attempting to complete too many tasks at once

  • A lack of clinical experience, which may apply to recent graduates or new nurses

  • Not being familiar with recent software updates

  • Being too self-critical

2. Be honest

During any interview, remaining honest is an important part of forming a trusting relationship with a future employer. While it may be tempting to alter the description of your weaknesses to impress hiring managers, try to remain honest and accurate through your portrayal. Often, hiring managers appreciate honesty, humility and integrity and will respect your ability to take ownership of your weaknesses.

Related: Nursing Position Interview: How To Answer “Why Should We Hire You as a Nurse?”

3. Demonstrate your efforts to improve

When discussing your nursing weaknesses, it's important to demonstrate to hiring managers your active efforts to improve. After briefly discussing an area of improvement, consider listing and describing ways in which you are currently working toward solutions. This technique helps you minimize the negative aspects and emphasize the positive aspects of your weakness. You can show hiring managers your willingness to work hard to transform your nursing weaknesses into strengths.

Related: 19 Nursing Interview Questions and Answers to Help You Prepare

How to talk about strengths in your nursing interview

Preparing yourself to talk about your strengths can help you plan successful answers during a nursing interview. Follow this guide to learn how to talk about your strengths during a nursing interview:

1. Brainstorm and categorize your strengths

When preparing for a nursing interview, try to reflect on your strengths as a nurse and how to effectively communicate them to hiring managers. Sometimes, categorizing your strengths can help you understand your strongest areas more clearly. Consider sorting your strengths into the following categories:

  • Knowledge-based strengths: Knowledge-based skills may include computer knowledge, technical abilities, aptitude in current nursing practices, languages and the ability to train others.

  • Transferable skills: Transferable skills may include problem-solving, effective communication and organization abilities and leadership skills.

  • Personal traits: Personal traits may include being a team player, having a strong work ethic, being honest and remaining calm under pressure.

2. Tailor your strengths

When discussing your strengths during a nursing interview, consider tailoring your descriptions to match the job requirements of the nursing opportunity. Reflect on ways your strengths could apply and add value to future scenarios within the position and include this information in the descriptions of your strengths. Doing this may help hiring managers understand how your strengths make you the perfect fit for the job. Use the following list of common nursing strengths when reflecting how they apply to your desired role:

  • Compassion for patients

  • Ability to solve problems quickly

  • Strong stress management skills

  • Team player

  • Leadership abilities

  • Flexibility

3. Be confident while remaining humble

While describing your strengths, it's important to do so confidently without sounding arrogant. Often, hiring managers look for confidence paired with a willingness to learn and improve. Bragging about your accomplishments can appear as a sign that you're too proud to receive and apply feedback, an important part of being a successful nurse. To avoid this, try to keep your tone neutral and describe your strengths in a respectful, concise manner.

Example answers for questions about weakness in a nursing interview

Below are examples of successful answers to questions about weakness during a nursing interview:

Example 1

"Other nurses and staff members have different work styles than I do, and I sometimes find it challenging for us to delegate tasks among our team and resolve disagreements about how to approach tasks. I'm working on strengthening my communication skills through independent study and seminars to express my feelings constructively and listen to the perspectives of my coworkers.”

Example 2

“I have a tendency to procrastinate paperwork and administrative tasks because I feel it takes away from the valuable time I'm able to spend with patients, but this means I often end up rushing through my reports at the end of the week. I'm working on breaking this habit by better managing my time and scheduling moments throughout my shifts that are dedicated to carefully filling out paperwork and completing necessary filing.”

Example 3

“I've worked as a nurse for nearly fifteen years, and we've always used the same patient management system to manage charts and schedules digitally. Recently, hospitals have started using newer systems, and I'm not familiar with their interfaces. I'm working on adjusting to the current software by participating in online trainings so that I am well prepared to transition to newer patient management systems.”

Example answers for questions about strengths in a nursing interview

Below are some examples of successful answers to questions about strengths during a nursing interview:

Example 1

“I think my greatest strength is my compassion for patients. I know that this opportunity involves working with pediatric patients and their families, and I believe my dedication to providing compassionate care and support to children and their loved ones makes me a qualified candidate for this position.”

Example 2

“This opportunity as an emergency room nurse requires advanced stress management skills and an ability to work well under pressure. I think one of my most notable strengths as a nurse is my ability to think clearly and maintain efficiency while experiencing varying levels of stress.”

Example 3

“Working as an operating room nurse involves an extreme level of attention to detail, a trait I believe to be one of my strengths as a nurse. In the workplace, I often notice slight changes in a patient's condition that may otherwise go unnoticed.”

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