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Do Not Give This Answer to “What’s Your Weakness?” in an Interview

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Do Not Give This Answer to “What’s Your Weakness?” in an Interview

You really, really want the job. You know you’d be perfect for the position, if only they’d give you a chance!

But first the interview.

Your stomach’s churning just thinking about how to answer the “What’s your weakness?” nursing interview question. It IS a nerve-wracking question, but it doesn’t have to be if you’re prepared. In fact, it is a golden opportunity!

Good news! By the end of this post, you’ll be able to confidently answer the “What’s your weakness?” nursing interview question as well as know the answer not to give. You’ll also want to read The Top Interview Questions and Answers before you interview.

They Don’t Want to Know Your Weakness

Do Not Give This Answer to "What's Your Weakness?" in an Interview

Do Not Give This Answer to “What’s Your Weakness?” in an Interview

The first thing to understand is- they don’t really want the truth!

They definitely don’t want to know your personal weaknesses (you binge on ice cream, you’re insecure, you get jealous). You won’t get points for candidly coming clean and telling them you forget your mother’s birthday.

It’s designed to see if you demonstrate self-awareness and are willing to adapt.

Be Confident

The manner in which you answer the question is telling. It isn’t about confessing your weaknesses, exposing yourself, and being vulnerable. It’s about demonstrating confidence, honesty and composure when asked a difficult Behavioral Interview Question.

Think of it as a great opportunity for you to shine and nail the interview! Using the guidelines below, you stay in control the entire time.

Do Not Give This Answer to “What’s Your Weakness?”

Specifically, do not say “I’m a perfectionist” only because it’s been overused as an example and you will come off as having googled your answer. Which, of course, you did, but they don’t need to know that.

By the same token, avoid “I work too hard.” Or “I’m a workaholic.” Just no.

Principles for Talking About a Negative

Then how should you answer this question?

[Tweet “Whenever you have to talk about a negative, turn it into a positive as soon as you can.”]

Don’t dwell on the negative

The ultimate guide to landing your nursing job

No more than a third of your words should be spent on describing your weakness. A brief, matter-of-fact statement is best. Don’t repeat yourself and don’t go into detail.

When they think about you, you want them to have positive associations.

End on a positive note

  • Frame your weakness as an opportunity you’ve identified for professional improvement and growth (self-awareness)
  • Give an example of what action steps you’ve taken (positive)
  • Describe the progress you’ve made in a story or example   (positive)

In this way, you have skillfully turned a negative into a positive while still owning it.

What’s your greatest weakness: choosing yours

When choosing your weakness, pick something work-related and fixable.

Make sure that it’s not something critical to the job, but that it is something germane to the job.

For example, don’t say “I struggle with math calculations” because you are going to be passing medications and your aptitude and safety will be brought into question.

Don’t say “I’m no good with Power Point” because this is not a skill for a bedside nurse. It will be seen as chickening out or skirting the question.

Your goal is to present a genuine weakness that does not damage your potential for the position but also does not come across as unrealistic or staged.

What’s your greatest weakness? answer examples 

“English is my second language. I read and write well, but I want to be more comfortable with idiomatic English. I’m taking an English as Second Language course at the community college.”

” I don’t always delegate as much as I should, because I always want to do everything myself! I’ve come to see that delegating is important in order to work as a team and get everything done. Every shift on my last rotation, I made it a point to delegate more each day. It’s still out of my comfort zone, but I’m improving daily.”

“I’m working on my time management skills. I’m learning to batch my duties whenever possible, and to carry enough needed supplies with me. When I anticipate what my patients might need, I’m better prepared and save time.”

Here’s the extremely popular post Top Interview Questions– a must read for anyone interviewing.

More TIPs

Note that none of the examples above used the word “weakness” when answering “What’s your greatest weakness?” Focus on the positive.

Be prepared with two answers, as they may ask “What are your greatest weaknesses (plural)?” You want to sound honest and authentic, not over-rehearsed.

Good luck, friend! Feel more comfortable with how to answer the “What’s Your Greatest Weakness?” nursing interview question?

Here are some related articles:

Tell Us About Yourself

Uncensored Thoughts of a Nurse Interviewer

The Secret Nurse Managers Look for in a Candidate

10 Crucial Insider TIPs You Need to Land Your First Job in Acute Care

Why Should We Hire You?



Until next time friend,

Nurse Beth

Author, “Your Last Nursing Class: How to Land Your First Nursing Job..and Your Next!

Come visit me at Ask Nurse Beth career column at for all kinds of  entertaining and informative career questions and answers, and to submit your own question :)







About Beth Hawkes (146 Articles)
Nice to meet you! I'm a Nursing Professional Development Specialist in acute care, a writer, speaker and career columnist.

15 Comments on Do Not Give This Answer to “What’s Your Weakness?” in an Interview

  1. Do you think it’s appropriate to say your greatest weakness is: “confidence in my skills, I have found if I watch an experienced nurse first, then I always push myself to do this task the next time. This worked for me during my preceptorship.” ? I don’t want to come off as weak with a lack of confidence, but it truly is something I have to work on every day.

  2. I always feel bad about asking this question when I interview people, but their answer is always telling to me and I always get interesting responses. Great tips!

  3. These are awesome! I never know what to say!

  4. That’s my very very very least favorite part of an interview. Oh how I hate that question! Excellent tips to make it a little less scary and a little less “I work too hard and care too much”.

  5. I love that you pointed out that we should a function instead of a quirk in our personality when revealing a weakness to potential employers. This is a wonderful tidbit!

  6. I definitely agree that the question does challenge the interviewee to self-reflect (or be able to). We are all not perfect and have things to work on, but recognizing things that we need to work on is step one (and many people fail to do this step).

  7. The “what’s your weakness” question is what I think can really make or break the interview. I agree with trying not to do the cheap thing, “I’m not good with powerpoint.” I’ve PROBABLY done the cheap thing before. I’ve always been told to use that question to your advantage, show that you’re confident and willing to work hard to overcome whatever ‘thing’ is holding you back.

    Great tips!

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