Interview question: Tell us about a mistake you have made...

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    I was in an interview the other day and was asked about a mistake I have made. I was kinda at a loss for words and sat there for a moment thinking of what I could say without taking too much time/silence to answer...and I thought about a time when I had made a wrong time medication error. I told them about a pt who had a Lipitor ordered for 1800 and I gave it at 0800. I went on to say that my unit manager was notified, doctor was notified as well being given a one time order for that med, that the patient also ended up being fine, and how I had to fill out all of the proper paperwork for the incident. I also went on to say what I learned from the experience and things that I put in place to ensure that it didn't happen again. But when I was driving home, I had that "why didn't I" moment and started thinking about other things I could have said that may have been a better response. Was this wrong to admit during an interview??? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! Thanks :-)
  2. 13 Comments so far...

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    I am pretty sure this question is the one that made me bomb the interview I had a few weeks ago. I gave them a time when I had a patient fall when the call bell fell of the bed because it didnt have a clip on it. It was truly the biggest mistake in my CNA career and I learned a lot about not relying on other shifts to do what theyre supposed to (this was a pt that did not want disturbed at night so we typically did not go into his room unless he rang or till morning med pass). Anyway, I did the same thing as soon as I left, thinking about how I should have come up with a more benign example instead of hanging myself out to dry, lol. Needless to say, I did not recieve a job offer from them however, it was my first job interview in 7 years and it gave me some good experience so I knew what NOT to say at the interview I had the next week, and I did get that job (although the second interview was way more friendly and they did not ask me the dreaded mistake question). I hope your interviewer respects honesty and sees the learning experience in your story better than my interviewer did. But if you dont get the job, at least next time you'll be more prepared. Good Luck!!
    pinkchris2000 and ChrissybRN like this.
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    Sorry, I don't have any advice for you, but I'd also like to ask if anyone knows WHAT an employer is looking for, exactly, when this question is asked. Especially when interviewing new grads who may not have had any opportunity to make a mistake yet. :/
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    Thank you. I was just trying to be honest, and hope they will see it in that respect. I guess only time will tell for now lol.
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    It is never easy to be put on the spot...especially when you are asked what mistakes you have made in the past!

    I think you did fine. As long as you didn't say something along the lines of, "You know, I was really nervous at the end of my shift because I had a date with this guy that I had been DYING to go out with, and my brain just wasn't working right. I like, TOTALLY forgot to give my 1800 meds. But it was cool and stuff because I DID report it off to the oncoming nurse, and she completely understood. She told me that she would give all of the meds as soon as she was done taking report."

    Med errors are certainly nothing to take lightly. The point of my silly quote is that you DIDN'T do this, but you admitted to an error (accountability) and then you took the necessary steps to correct it (responsibility). You further developed a plan of action to ensure the error was not repeated (prevention and safety measures implemented). Shows good judgment on your part.

    I think your answer was perfect. (Bravery)
    opossum, sparklie.lady, hikernurse, and 1 other like this.
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    It feels reassuring to hear that. I thought I should have mentioned the first time I had a needle stick(clean needle of course), only because it was injury to myself, and not "potential" injury to a pt. Thanks for your words of encouragment!
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    Thank you PchezRN for posting this question. Does anyone else have a good way to answer this question. I personally have a lot of anxiety in making mistakes and am going to do everything I can to not make a life threatening mistake. I have also been told that it's not a matter of if but when.
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    What they are looking for is people that make mistakes. We all make them. but the real thing they want is what you learned from it, how you handled it and that you recognized it and addressed the issue. I could not imagine hiring someone that states they have not made any mistakes or can not realize the gravity in not learning from said mistakes.

    I think you handled it wonderfully.
    NRSKarenRN likes this.
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    Thank you! It feels great to hear that. I knew they didn't want to hear you have never made a mistake before because...well...let's be honest, the nurse who says he/she has never made a mistake before, is a dangerous nurse in my book. I was just curious to see if anyone thought that admitting a med error was the wrong kind of error to say. It was my second interview for a hospital i've always wanted to work for! It was also a peer interview that was very formal, and they asked about 30 written structured behavioral situational questions the hospital wanted them to ask, which really threw me off gaurd. I was expecting it to be more informal and the nurses asking me questions that they wanted to know about the candidates. I guess I sit and wait for either a call back with a job offer or a denial letter in the mail. I am going to remain optimistic about it though. I feel it's the best way to be at this point
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    oh that was a horrible question.......a good one on the interviewers account though. Its like when they ask you about your negative qualities.......well done on coping though!!
    PchezRN likes this.


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