Nursing interview: 'Tell me about yourself' (with answers)

Updated 5 June 2023

'Tell me about yourself' is a general interview question that recruiters might ask during a nursing interview. Your reply allows them to learn more about you and ensure you have the qualities of a successful nurse, such as empathy and patience. Understanding how to answer this question and studying sample responses may improve your interview performance. In this article, we explain why an employer might ask during a nursing interview, 'Tell me about yourself', discuss how to answer this question and share example responses that you can use to prepare for a nursing job interview.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

Why employers ask during a nursing interview, 'Tell me about yourself'

Learning why employers ask 'Tell me about yourself' in a nursing interview may help you better prepare for your interview and secure a nursing job. This is a general question that you may hear during the first phase of a job interview. When an interviewer asks you this question, they want to learn more about you and discover elements of your personality that they may ask about later during the session.

Related: 10 nursing interview questions (with sample answers)

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How to answer 'Tell me about yourself' as a nurse

The way in which you answer this question can inform the recruiter about your background, such as why you pursued a career in nursing. Here are some basic steps to take before and during the interview to answer the question:

1. Review the role's requirements

As you're preparing for a nursing job interview, read through the job description several times. This helps you understand the role's requirements and decide which of your qualities you want to mention when an interviewer requests that you tell them something about yourself. For example, if you're applying for a nurse manager role, you might emphasise your leadership qualities. This can include the ability to use shift management software or knowledge of motivational strategies that work well in healthcare settings.

Related: Job specification: definition, features and examples

2. Discuss your employment history

Talking about your employment background is an excellent way to start answering 'Tell me about yourself' in a nursing interview. In this way, you can use your current position to introduce yourself and mention how long you've worked in nursing. It also helps you inform recruiters about your career focus or specialisation, such as adult or paediatric nursing.

Related: How to write work experience on a CV (tips and example)

3. Explain why you became a nurse

When an interviewer wants you to introduce yourself, consider using this as an opportunity to explain why you became a nurse. This might be especially beneficial if the reason for pursuing your career demonstrates your dedication, ambition and genuine passion for nursing. As part of discussing the start of your nursing career, you can mention who or what inspired you to pursue healthcare.

Related: Interview question: 'Why do you want to be a nurse?'

4. Mention your educational background

Another effective approach to answering this question involves discussing your educational history. After briefly explaining your work experience, list the qualifications you hold. Completing an undergraduate course is a requirement for all nurses, so mentioning your formal education helps recruiters make sure you're qualified for the role. It's also advisable to mention the titles that you hold. For example, you may introduce yourself as a registered nurse and a member of the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Related: A comprehensive guide to nursing degrees (with jobs)

5. List your values in life and at work

Use your answer to the 'Tell me about yourself' question to list your core values. By mentioning values that the organisation with which you're interviewing also represents, you position yourself as an ideal candidate whose career goals are likely to align with the employer's objectives. As a healthcare specialist, some values you might discuss include empathy, altruism or a willingness to comply with the nursing code of ethics. In addition, consider centring your answer around the six Cs in nursing, which are as follows:

  • commitment to quality of care

  • compassion

  • care

  • competence

  • communication

  • courage

Read more: 17 core nursing values: what they mean and their importance

6. Discuss your strengths as a nurse

As you're introducing yourself and sharing facts from your life and career, you might structure your answer to talk about your strengths as a nurse. When deciding which qualities to share, consider the facility where you want to work and the employer's goals. For example, if you know that the organisation plans to increase the size of its nursing team, adaptability might be a beneficial characteristic. Depending on the stage of your career, consider mentioning knowledge-based, transferable or personal strengths.

Listing some of your personal qualities, such as being able to work well both independently and in a team, or an ability to remain calm under pressure, may be a suitable strategy for newly registered nurses who are yet to join the workforce as full-time healthcare employees. Discussing knowledge-based skills, such as languages or the ability to train others, is an effective tactic for experienced nurses applying for senior or leadership positions. Transferable strengths, such as problem solving or organisation, are an asset regardless of the position.

Related: How to answer questions about the weakness of a nurse

Example answers

Studying example responses allows you to determine how you might structure your answer to try to impress recruiters and maintain their interest. Here are a few examples you can use as inspiration when deciding how to talk about yourself during a nursing interview:

Example 1: paediatric nurse

'I'm a registered nurse with over 10 years of experience in paediatric nursing. Working in healthcare has always been my desire, as I grew up in a home full of healthcare specialists. My mother was an adult nurse, and my father worked as a paediatric oncologist. It was one of his cases that made me think that paediatric nursing was the right field for me. Just before I chose my A-level subjects, my father treated John, a 5-year-old patient whom he diagnosed with bone cancer.

It was a challenging experience not only for John but also for my family members because my father would tell us about John and how brave he was while undergoing painful treatment. The only thing that bothered my father was that there weren't enough qualified paediatric nurses to support John in between chemotherapy sessions. The thought of that really affected me, and it was what helped me make the decision to go to nursing school. Even now, I'm grateful for that. Helping and supporting children and their families is what I was born to do.'

Related: How much does a paediatric nurse make? (With duties)

Example 2: mental health nurse

'I started working as a general nurse at a local hospital four years ago, just after graduating from university. Working at a public healthcare facility allowed me to gain a lot of experience and observe how nurses from different specialisations operate. After two years, I transferred to mental health nursing, which seemed the most challenging and interesting out of the four main specialisations in the field. As a mental health nurse, I can build longer-lasting relationships with my patients, which is something I'm good at.'

Related: What does a mental health nurse do? (With primary duties)

Example 3: ER nurse

'I am a registered nurse with over six years of clinical nursing experience. I also have a postgraduate diploma in emergency nursing. I'm an open-minded and confident person who can make quick and effective decisions under pressure.

As an ER nurse, my top priority is to keep my patients alive and comfort them until a doctor handles their injuries or illness. To date, I've worked at a private clinic that supported emergency patient cases from a nearby public hospital whenever it had a case overload. I function well under pressure and believe that working full time at a public healthcare facility can allow me to use that ability to help people.'

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