The majority of nurses find challenging to answer the “Tell me about a time you failed” nursing interview question. Mainly, because we don’t like to admit our own failures, right?
Always be honest and tell a true story about how you have failed.
It’s not the actual failure that the interviewer is interested in. You should explain how you have learned from the experience and why you’ll never repeat the same mistake ever again.
Below you will find a few tips that will help you nail your interview and five sample answers to this tricky question.
How to Answer About Nursing Interview Question Tell Me About a Mistake?
Tell me about a time you failed is a nursing interview classic. It is an extremely important question and there are a few things that the interviewer wants to hear you say.
Here are the main dos and don’ts when answering tell me about a time you failed a nursing interview question.
- Do have an answer that you have prepared beforehand.
- Don’t say that you didn’t tell anyone about your failure, but everything turned out just fine. Let the interviewer know that you owned your failure and that you took responsibility for it.
- Do be completely honest about your experience.
- Don’t tell a story that is way too harsh (if the failure involves you committing a crime, for example). Before answering, think about what the person would learn about you after you present the story (the answer should not set off plenty of red flags).
- Do explain how you have learned from your mistakes and what you have done to prevent these things from happening in the future.
- Don’t use this question to brag about yourself. Answers like “I work too hard” or “I care too much” are annoying and are not what the interviewer is looking for.
- Don’t excuse yourself or tell a story where you were the victim of circumstances.
- Do finish the answer by telling how you have grown from the experience. The hiring manager wants to hear that you won’t be making the same mistake over and over again.
Tell Me About a Time You Failed Nursing Interview Answers
1. You failed to listen to the patient’s family
I was having a busy shift and had a hard time trying to manage all the patients that I was assigned.
When the wife of one of the patients started telling me about how her husband is doing, I didn’t take into consideration what she was saying.
She said that her husband wasn’t eating at all, but I didn’t pay attention to her words as the patent’s vital signs were good.
Soon, the patient’s health started to decline.
I even had to call a code.
Now I know that listening to the family is extremely important as, at times, the information that they’re giving can help prevent such situations.
2. You failed to consult your colleagues
I was a new nurse and I had to take care of a patient with severe sepsis.
It was my first experience of that kind and I got overwhelmed by the number of things that I had to take care of.
I administered the prescribed medications and IV fluids and assessed the patient’s physiological status, but forgot what exactly I should pay attention to when monitoring the blood levels.
I’ve spent too much precious time trying to figure that out on my own, instead of simply asking my more experienced colleagues.
Now I know that I should not be afraid to consult someone when I’m doubting what I’m doing.
See also: Tell Me About Yourself Nursing Interview
3. You failed at your administrative tasks
The patient just came out of surgery and I observed heavy drainage coming from the wound.
I changed the dressing but forgot to record the heavy drainage and the dressing change.
Turns out, the evening nurse changed the dressing again, but she didn’t realize that the patient’s wound was seeping more than it should have because of my mistake.
I am thankful that the patient’s condition did not get more serious.
I have learned that nurses should never compromise on quality simply to be able to get everything done as fast as they can.
See also: What Are Your Values Nursing Interview Question
4. You failed to ask for help
During the time when our hospital was flooded with people who needed help, we all were working extended shifts.
I failed to take strategic naps and I wasn’t able to sleep even when I came home.
As a result, I felt too fatigued to work, but I didn’t tell anyone about it.
The quality of my work suffered a lot. At one point, I fell asleep during the night shift (thankfully my coworker woke me up).
If I had reported to the manager that I am unable to work, so that he could find a solution, the patients would have received better care.
Now, I will always ask for help or report to the manager, if I ever feel like I can’t fulfill my responsibilities.
See also: Assistant Nurse Manager Interview Questions
5. Your patient passed away
When a patient passes away, that always means that we have failed.
I knew that a patient was going to code.
When he did, my overhead phone was dead, and I was alone, so I had to start CPR on my own.
Every time when we lose a patient, we gather together to go through our actions to determine what exactly can be done next time, so that such a situation never repeats itself.
If I was sure that the patient was going to go to code, I had to make sure that I wasn’t alone or at least that it would always be possible for me to call for help.
Conclusion: Tell Me About a Time You Failed
Now you should know how to answer these kinds of questions.
Choose the right mistake to talk about and convince the interviewer that you have grown and that failure has made you implement certain changes in the way you work.
In a nutshell, it’s not the actual failure that the interviewer is interested in.
The question is about how you were able to handle and, later on, learn from the situation.
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