Best Answer to Weakness as a Nurse Interview Question

by | Jun 20, 2024 | Nursing Jobs & Interviews | 0 comments

Nurses are known for their strength, compassion, and dedication. But even the most amazing nurses have areas for improvement. Whether it’s dealing with difficult patients, communicating properly with your healthcare team, or a lack of clinical experience in a specific area, as nurses and individuals we all have weaknesses. 

Sometimes the job interview question “What is your biggest weakness as a nurse?” can feel like a trap. However, by strategically addressing your weakness as a nurse interview question, you can turn it into an opportunity to showcase your self-awareness and commitment to growth. This post will guide you through crafting the best answer to help you land your nursing dream job.

weakness as a nurse interview

Prefer to listen to the podcast version of this post? Click play below!👇

How to Answer Your Weakness as a Nurse Interview Question

Let’s start by understanding why this is a common interview question when applying for a job. 

There are three key reasons for asking this question.

1. It Gauges Self-Awareness and a Growth Mindset

The interviewer wants to see if you’re honest about your capabilities and open to learning. A good answer acknowledges an area for improvement and highlights your proactive approach to addressing it.

2. It Identifies Potential Challenges

This question can help the interviewer identify areas where you might need additional support or training. By understanding your weaknesses, they can assess if you’d be a good fit for the specific role and the team dynamic.

3. It Shows How You Handle Pressure

Interviewing can be stressful, and this question can add to that pressure. How you respond under pressure reveals your composure and communication skills, both of which are crucial for a successful nurse.

Nurses Have Weaknesses Too

You need to understand that every person, even ideal candidates, will have weaknesses. We are all humans; we all have things we struggle with that we just aren’t the best at.

Whether or not you think you have weaknesses, you have them, and it’s really helpful to think about how you’ll answer this question in advance so you’re not caught off guard in your interview. (Especially since it’s such a common question, and likely to pop up in your interviews.)

Crafting the Best Answer

Allocate adequate prep time to elaborate on this question, as not preparing your answer can make selecting your weakness in the moment challenging.

Here’s how you can start to craft a solid answer: first, identify a specific weakness, then explain a little bit about it, and say how you would overcome it. Please, don’t just list 3 weaknesses without explaining about them. 

Remember, the interviewer is asking this question to determine your level of self-awareness as a nursing applicant.

Selecting Your Weakness

Whether discussing a critical skill you struggle with, interpersonal skills, or another aspect related to the nursing profession, it’s crucial to think this through and craft your answer before heading into the real-time interview.

If you’re applying to a position or unit you have never worked on before, that’s a clear weakness you can speak to. For instance: “One of my weaknesses is that I have a lack of experience in this specific area. And even though I’ve never worked in this area before, I’m excited to learn more and become competent and excel in this area. I’ve already taken some courses on [insert new unit] to prepare for this position, and I’m dedicated to becoming a high performer”.

Examples of Answers to Weakness as a Nurse Interview Question

Like I said, in an interview, you want to convey your weaknesses in a way that demonstrates self-awareness and a commitment to professional growth, rather than signaling potential red flags. Here are ten ways you might phrase your weaknesses positively:

  1. Prioritization: “Sometimes, I find myself trying to handle multiple tasks at once, which can affect prioritization. I’ve been actively working on strategies to improve my time management to improve my efficiency.”
  2. Delegating Tasks: “I tend to take on a lot myself because I want to ensure high-quality care, which can make it challenging to delegate tasks. I’m learning to trust my team more and delegate appropriately.”
  3. Technological Adaptation: “I can be hesitant with new technology. I’ve been dedicating time to familiarize myself with the latest healthcare IT systems to stay current and efficient.”
  4. Saying ‘No’: “I sometimes find it difficult to say no to additional responsibilities, as I am very committed to my work. I am learning to assess my workload more realistically and communicate my limits clearly.”
  5. Emotional Involvement: “I am deeply empathetic, which is crucial in nursing, but I sometimes get emotionally involved with patients’ situations. I’m working on strategies to maintain a professional distance while still providing compassionate care.”
  6. Feedback Reception: “I take feedback very seriously and sometimes can take it too personally. I am improving at using constructive criticism as a tool for professional growth rather than a setback.”
  7. Physical Stamina: “The demanding nature of nursing sometimes challenges my physical stamina. I am focusing on improving my physical health through regular exercise and proper nutrition to better meet the demands of my role.”
  8. Impatience for Results: “I am very goal-oriented and can become impatient when results are not immediate. I am learning to appreciate the process and understand that some situations take time to improve.”
  9. Detail Orientation: “My attention to detail is very strong, which is essential in nursing, but it sometimes slows me down. I’m working on finding the right balance between being thorough and efficient.”
  10. Conflict Resolution: “I prefer a harmonious workplace and sometimes avoid conflict longer than I should. I am developing my skills in conflict resolution to address issues promptly and constructively.”

These responses not only acknowledge areas for improvement but also demonstrate a proactive approach to personal and professional development, which can be very appealing from a hiring manager’s perspective.

Explain How to Overcome Your Weakness

When answering the interview question about weaknesses, the key lies not in the weakness itself but in how you demonstrate your commitment to professional growth. This approach shows hiring managers that you are self-aware, reflective, and proactive about improving yourself, qualities highly valued in any profession, especially in nursing. It’s essential to frame your weaknesses as areas of ongoing development rather than as fixed or insurmountable flaws.

By discussing the specific steps you’re taking to address these weaknesses, such as seeking training, adjusting work habits, or engaging in self-care, you not only present yourself as a candidate who is honest and realistic but also as someone who is actively engaged in becoming a better nurse.

This proactive stance can significantly impact the positive perception of your candidacy, as it aligns with the healthcare industry’s emphasis on continuous improvement and high-quality patient care.

My Comprehensive Nurse Interview Resource

How to handle this question, and many more, are what I explore in my course, Hired: The Ultimate Guide to Mastering Nurse Resumes and Interviews.

In the course, I go through the top questions you get asked in an interview and how to navigate them with sample answers. Some of those common nursing interview questions are: tell me about a difficult time with a coworker, tell me about a time when you went above and beyond, tell me about yourself and why you went into nursing, what are your strengths and weaknesses, and tell me about a mistake you made.

I also discuss cover letters, questions you should ask them, red flags to watch for, and things they are legally not allowed to ask you during an interview. 

Final Thoughts on Weakness as a Nurse Interview Question

I hope this article will help you come up with authentic answers. Addressing the topic of weaknesses as a nurse interview requires thoughtful preparation and strategic communication. By dedicating sufficient time to reflect on and refine your response, you can transform this potential challenge into an opportunity to demonstrate self-awareness, a growth mindset, and commitment to professional development.

Remember, honesty tempered with a proactive approach to improvement showcases your resilience and dedication as a nurse. I encourage you to embrace this chance to discuss your weaknesses with confidence, knowing that your ability to self-assess and strive for excellence sets you apart as a valuable asset in the healthcare landscape. You got this. 💪

Are you done with the guesswork of applying and interviewing for nursing jobs?

hired: the ultimate guide to nurse resumes and interviews course cover

Hired from FreshRN is a self-paced, online course for ambitious nurses who want to be the ideal candidate for their dream job. Amber Nibling, MSN RN-BC, and Kati Kleber, MSN RN have interviewed hundreds of nurse applicants and they give you the inside scoop of what interviewers are thinking. Learn everything you need to know to impress potential employers (and yourself) by learning what the hiring team expects from you, so you can not only meet, but exceed those expectations.

Start Lesson #1

More Resources

  1. Acute Care vs Critical Care Nurse: Picking the Right Nursing Specialty for You
  2. Types of Nursing Jobs and Where to Find Them: A Comprehensive Guide for New Graduate Nurses
  3. 10 Steps to Getting Hired as a New Grad Nurse
Picture of Kati Kleber, founder of FRESHRN

Hi, I’m Kati.

Kati Kleber, MSN RN is a nurse educator, author, national speaker, host of the FreshRN® Podcast, and owner of FreshRN® – an online platform created to educate, encourage, and motivate newly licensed nurses in innovative ways.

Connect with her on YouTube, Pinterest, TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook, and sign-up for her free email newsletter for new nurses.


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