Interview Question: "Why Did You Choose Nursing as a Career?"

female nurse holding a stethoscope
•••

 Science Photo Library/Getty Images

When preparing to interview for a nursing position, it’s helpful to review questions you might be asked. One of the things that interviewers often ask nursing candidates is "What made you choose nursing as a career?" If you have an interview for a nursing position, you want to arrive confident and prepared for your interview. Reviewing questions that interviewers might ask will help you do that.

What the Interviewer Really Wants to Know

When an interviewer for a nursing position asks you “Why did you choose nursing as a career?” the interviewer is trying to learn the personal reasons you may have for becoming a nurse.

The interviewer is also trying to learn what characteristics and skills you have that make you good at what you do.

Your answers should provide the basis for a discussion about your passion for nursing, your qualifications, and your skill set.

How to Answer the Interview Question “Why Did You Choose Nursing as a Career?”

Because there are so many factors that go into choosing a career, you can answer this question in a variety of ways. When preparing an answer, try to include the reasons the work interests you as well as what strengths you possess that make you an excellent nurse and the best candidate for the job.

You will likely be asked questions relating specifically to nursing, as well as a certain number of general interview questions, so you should prepare some ideas about how you would like to answer them.

Don’t try to memorize an answer, but jot down a few ideas and talking points that relate to your own experiences and strengths.

Examples of the Best Answers

Reviewing sample answers can help you to formulate your own thoughts and give you ideas of what to include to impress the interviewer.

I wanted to do something in my career that is challenging, interesting, and makes a difference in people's lives daily. In the nursing profession, you deal with many aspects of patient care, and I enjoy the variety in the routine.

Why It Works: The interviewer will be pleased to know that the candidate wants to make a difference in people’s lives. The candidate also makes a point to mention that patient care is a priority.

Dealing with patients and their families and helping them through what is often a difficult time for them is extremely satisfying for me.

Why It Works: This works because the candidate is letting the interviewer know that working with patients is of primary importance.

My mother is a nurse and seeing the satisfaction she feels every day by helping people in her job inspired my own interest in the field. I knew from the time that I was very young that nursing was something I wanted to do with my life.

Why It Works: This is a good answer because it shows the candidate’s passion for the nursing profession along with a family history of working in the nursing field.

Through college and nursing school, my interest in nursing and commitment to the field became even stronger as I found that I also had an aptitude for the work. I believe my ability to communicate with people and to explain things clearly in both a technical and non-technical way is one of the things that makes me a good nurse.

Why It Works: This is a very good answer that shows that interviewer the candidate’s confidence and awareness of the strengths possessed that enhance the candidacy.

I chose nursing as a career because I love learning new things. As a nurse, I am always challenging myself to keep current on medical trends and training so that I can provide the best care to my patients. Every day as a nurse, I learn something new from my colleagues and patients, which inspires me to explore deeper knowledge of the techniques and procedures I use.

Why It Works: This works because the candidate shows a willingness to keep current on skills and education necessary in the medical field.

Tips for Giving the Best Answer

Analyze the job posting. It’s a good idea to look carefully at the job posting, and the hospital website to get a feel for what they are specifically looking for in the person who fills the open position, as well as the general culture of the hospital.

Skill Set. Be prepared to discuss your clinical skill set, as well as your personal qualities, that make you qualified for the job. The interviewer may ask you to provide examples of situations where you applied those skills. You should have a list of your nursing skills with you, preferably on a copy of your resume.

Patient Scenarios. You will be asked about challenges you have met and problems which you have solved in patient care contexts. Be ready to share specific patient scenarios where you intervened with difficult cases and individuals to help generate positive outcomes.

Team Player. Nurses must be effective team members and get along with challenging personalities. Be prepared to share examples of how you have dealt with difficult colleagues.

Practice Your Answer. Prepare an answer to this question and practice your answer.

What Not to Say

Avoid Negativity. Don’t complain about difficult patients, other nurses you’ve known, doctors, or other hospitals.

Avoid Physical Complaints. Don’t complain about the grueling physical aspects of the nursing profession. You chose this career and are applying for this job.

Possible Follow-Up Questions

Key Takeaways

  • Be prepared to discuss both your clinical skill set and personal characteristics that make you a good nurse.
  • Take a list of your nursing skills with you.
  • Have some sample patient scenarios and why they were challenging in mind.
  • Don’t complain about past jobs, patients, people, the nature of the work, or anything else.
  • Go over sample interview questions to prepare for your interview.
  • Prepare an answer to this question by making notes and practice it.