Job Interview: What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Nurses Job Hunt Nursing Q/A


Job Interview: What are your strengths and weaknesses?

Discussing your strengths and weaknesses can be nerve wracking. How do you go about it? What's your biggest weakness?

How do you answer this question? What are some examples of strengths in nursing and weaknesses that have a positive spin?

29 Answers


177 Posts

I'm always honest about my strengths & weaknesses and it always seems to go well with the interview. I always have a few strengths & weaknesses in mind so I during an interview I'm able to verbalize them well without looking too stumped! LOL.

My personal Strengths-

-I love to learn. I plan on returning to school to continue my education & look for opportunities to expand my knowledge, such as doing CEs in my free time, reading nursing journals, or taking certification classes.

- I try to always portray a positive attitude even if I'm not feeling awesome that day. I had multiple customers & coworkers at my last job call me "Smiley" & ask if I'm always in a good mood. You never know when a smile can make someone else's day a little better and make for a better work environment.


-I'm a worrier. I'm always afraid I'll mess something up, so I've learned to check & double check info before doing things I feel uncomfortable with so I'm sure I won't do it wrong. I plan for the worst & try to do everything in my power to make sure it doesn't happen.

-Public speaking is my biggest weakness. Thankfully, after taking speech class in school & the multiple presentations I gave during nursing drool, I've learned to hide my fear while doing a speech, even though I'm having a mini-heart attack the whole time! LOL.

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How to Answer "What's Your Greatest Weakness?"

nurseprnRN, BSN, RN

1 Article; 5,114 Posts

Believe me, all the HR people went to the same seminar that told them not to buy that spin thing. "My big weakness is that I am a perfectionist" says that you are very careful and don't make mistakes. "I care too much about my coworkers" means that you are a wonderful team member. Blah, blah, blah. They may be too polite to do it in front of you, but their eyes are roooolllllllllinggggg. Of such is hilarity made in the HR break room.

"Positive spin" isn't worth spit if if gets you a job that you're not going to like or that won't be a good fit for other reasons. If you have any intellectual honesty, you'll tell them what your weaknesses are, and how you are genuinely changing them as evidenced by ... .

And as with dating someone, if they don't like you for who you are, then they are not going to be good employers for you, and you might as well not get involved. Really. "I feel much more comfortable knowing I have good experienced back-up" tells them that maybe they shouldn't put you on the unit with 225% turnover every year (yep, been there, done that). "I'm quiet so people may think I'm impolite, so I'm taking an assertiveness course from the nursing association next month" will let them know perhaps you shouldn't go cold into that hard-ass ED. Maybe next year.

Although I know everyone thinks they're so exceptional that they can ignore this advice. OK, date that bad boy, take the job that isn't the best fit for you, and see how it goes. But don't say I didn't warn ya. ?

Specializes in LTC.

As a former HR manager in another field, people who give real weaknesses are refreshing. It helped me to know if they could handle the job they were applying to. My favorites I have ever heard: I function well under stress but when a job is slow I get lazy. I get annoyed when people don't do their fair share and it shows. I'm nosy. When I'm bored I goof off. When I'm embarrassed or angry, I have a hard time hiding it. I interviewed people for 10 years, the ones who got very coveted jobs from me were honest with me, not trying to spin themselves.

If you were: a perfectionist, honest to a fault, cared too much, chronically early, a work a holic, sometimes too loyal, or any of the other countless spin answers, I kind of assumed you were A.) dishonest, or B.) unable to recognize or improve on areas of weakness.

klone, MSN, RN

14,686 Posts

Specializes in OB-Gyn/Primary Care/Ambulatory Leadership.

Don't try to spin it into a positive. Answer honestly, and tell them what you've done to help overcome the weakness. For example, I often answer for that question "I sometimes have difficulty with the paperwork aspect of things, or returning emails in a timely manner. My boss and I discussed this in my last performance review, and I started making 'to-do' lists to help me make sure I"m doing paperwork in a timely manner. I also make sure to set aside 15 minutes out of every shift to return emails. So while this has been a weakness for me, the to-do lists have definitely helped!"

klone, MSN, RN

14,686 Posts

Specializes in OB-Gyn/Primary Care/Ambulatory Leadership.

And for positives, be honest with that, too. Toot your horn! For example:

I am a super fast learner and quickly become one of the resources for every job I've ever had.

I have a great attention to detail and I see errors that most other people miss.

I have a very caring personality and I have an ability for putting patients at ease.


88 Posts

WHen a company asks about your weaknesses, what they are really asking is what are some of the risks we will be taking on in hiring you. Don'ttalk about anything that gives the employer the impression that you will be a liability to their company. In advance, pick a weakness that that is not essential to the job that you are actively working on. Are you someone who will do something about it?They want someone who takes active responsibility in their development. Talkabout how you are improving that skill and how that improvement will benefit the company.

For example, when I am asked this question, this is what I say:

An area in need of development is being hard on myself about not being perfect. I hate making mistakes and I am really hard on myself if I make a mistake. I am working on giving myself a break because no one is perfect. For example, when I come across a new and challenging skill I approach it by telling myself to relax, ask questions, ask for help, listen carefully and that rarely is anyone ever perfect the first time doing something new.


65 Posts

For strengths: I am big on teamwork, flexible, calm under pressure, motivated, enthusiastic

For weaknesses: In the beginning, I has time management issues (like every new grad) and used to save my charting until later and then I had a ton of charting and was leaving late! Now I document as I go and feel like my time management is much improved. I also developed my own "brain" sheet so that I would be able to better manage my time.

I don't feel like that is "spinning it" per se. I feel like it is a true weakness, but I am doing things to improve it. I think that is the key. Blurting out a weakness without saying how you are working on it or make something up that sounds too good to be true is a huge misstep IMO.

Editorial Team / Admin

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

6 Articles; 11,535 Posts

Specializes in OR, Nursing Professional Development.

Most likely, the questions are going to relate mostly to standard interview questions and your personality traits. Here's a link to a thread with other links to other threads (confused yet?) that talk about the qualities we look for in a coworker.

I doubt there will be questions about OR specific things; rather, more along the lines of strengths/weaknesses, teamwork, how you handle an emergency situation, etc.

Remember that while they are interviewing you, you are also interviewing them. You definitely want to know about the orientation and resources for new nurses, and finding out ahead of time about the call requirements and policies can help you figure out if you can meet or make arrangements to meet the requirements. Main concern with call being response time and where you live- we used to have someone who had to stay in a hotel or with a coworker when on call because she lived too far away.


993 Posts

Some questions they asked me in my interview:

1) tell me what you think an OR nurse does.

2) what qualities do you think are most important in an OR nurse?

3) why OR nursing?

4) and what kind of OR nursing would I like to do.. It was for a big system.. So they had OB, children's, and trauma hospitals and why?

Then pretty much general interview questions.


163 Posts

Well my interview went well. Haven't heard if I got the position yet. They said we will know in about 10 days and HR will let us know either way. I was nervous but was able to hold a nice convo with the 4 ladies that interviewed me.

It was sort of like a conference interview 2 of the head department managers, A unit manager and a last years internship nurse.

They asked me:

What do you think an OR nurse does?

What are your strengths and weaknesses? (This one was expected so I practiced before hand)

Tell me about a time when you had a conflict with a co worker and how did you go about it?

There are different ways to do one thing. Give me an example of something you've done in 2 different ways to get the same outcome. (This one caught me off guard. I sort of went blank and gave an example of how to feed a patient via pump or bolus will get the same outcome of getting nutrition to the patient)

Tell me about an emergency situation you encountered on your previous jobs and how did you handle it? This one was easy.

And basically they took turns chit chatting. I asked them a few questions. Overall I felt like it went well. I really hope they select me. Im sure there must be quite a few candidates to chose from so I'm trying not to get my hopes up too high but I'm keeping my fingers crossed!


72 Posts

Thank you all for the tips. Although I am not in the market for a new job, I have decided to make a document to highlight both so I have it available should I need to find a new job. This question is always my weakness, lol. It can be hard to state your strengths without sounding cocky. On the flip side, its hard to state your weakness's. for myself, its my interpersonal skills because i have zero tolerance for people not doing their jobs, or not treating their patients as they were most important (in my eyes). So with this I always struggle on how to answer this question. So anybody who has idea's on how to state this would be great. Thank you.

Specializes in NICU.

This is such a awesome thread! I am prepping for my very first nursing interview and now because of the information I got from here I feel like I am a bit more prepared!

This question was giving me nightmares but I feel like I can now answer it confidently ! Thank you all !

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