Interview Question: "Why Do You Find Nursing Rewarding?"

Nurse holding swaddled baby
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Congratulations! Your cover letter and resume got you noticed, and you’re ready to prepare for an interview for your dream nursing job. You’ll be asked a number of questions at your interview, and one very important question may be, “Why do you find nursing to be a rewarding profession?”

What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know

The interviewer wants a truly positive answer about your experience with nursing and why you find it rewarding. What is your favorite part of nursing? Is it patient care? Administration? Working with families? Working with your medical team? A specialty?

Whatever you find rewarding in the profession of nursing, be passionate and knowledgeable about it when you prepare your answer for the interviewer.

Perhaps it’s nursing in general that you find rewarding. Think hard about the answer to this question. Prepare your answer and practice it before your interview.

How to Answer the Interview Question “Why Do You Find Nursing Rewarding?”

There are several ways you can answer this question. You might focus on how you feel when you work with a specific patient population or witness a specific joyful outcome.

For example:

“The most rewarding thing for me as a nurse is seeing the joy when a family first holds their baby. The first volunteer job I had back in high school was helping in the maternity ward at the hospital in my hometown. The very first time I saw a new mother with her baby, I knew that I wanted to go into nursing to share this special time with families. Throughout my years as a maternity nurse, I have seen many heartbreaking times as well, and being able to help those families cope with loss has been very difficult, but also rewarding.”

There are other ways to answer this question. If it is nursing in general that you find rewarding, develop your answer with that slant. If you have a desire to eventually go into nursing administration, focus on the fact that you find nursing so rewarding that you would like to be in management.

You also want to read and study the common questions asked in a nursing job interview.

Examples of the Best Answers

Here are some sample answers that will help you frame your own response when preparing for your interview.

As an Emergency Room nurse, one of the primary jobs that I have, besides helping the on-call doctor to treat patients, is interacting with the patients and their families. Often, the families need to wait for a diagnosis, and they look to the nurse for explanations and messages from the doctor. I find it very rewarding to be able to help the patients, as well as their families, be calm and well-prepared for when the doctor can speak with them.

Why It Works: It is clear in this answer that the applicant is sincere in his or her concern for the patients and their families. She is detailed enough in her answer to assure the interviewer that she finds this part of the job very rewarding. The interviewer would see the applicant as being genuine in his or her description of the favorite part of nursing being able to help people through stressful situations or through communication with doctors.

I find helping patients through recovery after surgery, which is often one of their greatest challenges, to be most rewarding. Many times, no matter how well-educated the patient is, and how well-prepared they are for what to expect during recovery, the reality of their post-surgical rehabilitation is overwhelming. I once worked with a patient after knee surgery who had some complications, which resulted in the need for an extended hospital stay, and much more physical therapy that she had been prepared for.

I was concerned for her mental state and recommended that she speak with our social worker. After she had been released, she sent me a very nice note, thanking me for putting her in touch with the social worker and letting me know that it had a positive impact on her recovery.

Why It Works: The applicant is obviously very knowledgeable about nursing and her answer to the question is sincere and honest. It works because the interviewer would see that he or she is a sincere person.

I love working with children, and the most rewarding part of being a pediatric nurse is watching how they process their illnesses and injuries, as well as how willing they are to take charge of their recovery. I remember one young patient who had been given a difficult diagnosis, and she had a lot of questions about her treatment. Her fantastic attitude, as well as the support of her parents, most likely contributed to her remission. I learned so much from that little girl, and I believe that I have been able to help other children better for having known her.

Why It Works: This answer projects the applicant’s passion for nursing clearly. An interviewer could clearly see how the applicant found the profession rewarding.

Tips for Giving the Best Answer

Exhibit Enthusiasm and Passion. If you exhibit enthusiasm and passion for nursing as a profession, it will be obvious that you find it rewarding.

Highlight Your Qualifications. This question gives you an opportunity to talk about your best qualifications for the nursing position.

Nursing as a Career. You can briefly discuss your excitement about nursing as a career when answering the question about how rewarding nursing is for you.

Prepare and Practice. Prior to your interview, prepare your answer and practice it.

What Not to Say

Don’t Search. Don’t be unprepared for this question and appear to be searching for an answer.

Don’t Discuss Salary and Perks. It’s not appropriate to discuss salary and benefits during the first interview unless the interviewer brings it up first.

Don’t Go into Specifics. Be complete, but brief. If the interviewer wants more specifics, he or she will ask for them.

Possible Follow-Up Questions

Key Takeaways

  • When describing what makes nursing rewarding, be enthusiastic and passionate.
  • Weave your own qualifications into your description of what you find rewarding about the nursing profession.
  • Be positive and brief. Don’t be too specific.
  • Give an example of how nursing has been rewarding for you.