Would This Be An Acceptable Weakness In An Interview?

  1. I'm preparing for my second new graduate nursing interview, and was wondering if this would be an acceptable answer for the question "What are your weaknesses/areas you could improve?"

    This interview is for ICU. Unfortunately I was unable to complete my preceptorship/senior practicum in ICU, but I did complete it on a med/surg floor. I know I'll be up against other applicants who did theirs in ICU. I was thinking that I could explain this as my weakness in an interview. I would explain scenarios of critical patients I took care of in med/surg and how it relates to ICU.

    Is this an acceptable "weakness" or should I focus on a personality flaw? I don't want to rub anyone the wrong way by acting like my only weakness is simply that I don't have ICU experience. This is always a tricky question. Thanks!
    •  
  2. 15 Comments

  3. by   Sour Lemon
    It doesn't quite fit, IMO. Do people even still ask that question?
  4. by   AliNajaCat
    This "weakness" question made its first appearance at some HR seminar about 15 years ago, and then we saw reams of helpful advice like, "Turn your 'weakness' into a STRENGTH!!" Believe me, ever since then, all the HR people have heard people recite, "MY weakness is that I'm such a perfectionist..." "No, MY weakness is that I ask too many questions!" "No, MY weakness is that I'll stay late until it's all done!" and they can say them all in their sleep.

    You don't even know anybody is going to ask you that.

    I'd go for honesty. "I'm not sure how to answer that question. Could you give me an example?"
    "I wish I'd had more time to spend in critical care, which is why I'm applying for this job now. There's so much to learn! I can't wait."
    "I enjoyed my time in med/surg, but found myself with more questions than I had answers for. I'd like to be able to pursue more in-depth knowledge of X,Y,Z with the nursing experts in critical care."
  5. by   nurse3121
    Quote from Sour Lemon
    Do people even still ask that question?
    They do! You would think they would get tired of all the "I'm a perfectionist" answers. I was asked this question in my last interview. That is why I'm preparing so I'm not caught off guard this time.
  6. by   nurse3121
    AliNajaCat,

    Thank you for your response. I went to an interview seminar once that suggested we use the "turn your weakness into a strength" type of answer, such as "I work too hard" or "I'm too nice". I'm sure the hiring managers have heard it all.

    I know that they will probably ask about my preceptorship, or at least look to see where I did it. I feel that this already puts me at a disadvantage compared with the other applicants who did theirs in ICU. But I made it to the interview process, so I must have done something right! I just want to show that I am willing to learn and catch up to those who have more critical care experience than I do.

    I went to an interview last week and they asked me to share my strengths and weaknesses. Prior to nursing I had interviews that did not ask about weaknesses, so I thought it was interesting that this question is still being used.

    I like the answers you provided. Thank you!
  7. by   HouTx
    Our organization uses behavioral interviewing. Therefore, the inquiry that would most closely reflect the "weakness" question would be something like "Tell me about a time when you became aware of your most challenging (most important) area of competency development." Followed by "What did / are you doing about it?" They key element of that response would not be the fact that the applicant had identified a weakness or competency gap, but what s/he is doing about it. That's much more relevant than simply identifying ones weaknesses.
  8. by   Flatline
    Coming for the professional world I would highly recommend you never say the work "weakness" but rather use the the term development. You want to further develop XYZ skill or you want to achieve XYZ goal.

    You are not weak, you have no "weakness" but rather you are developing new and useful skills and knowledge in certain areas. Words have power.
  9. by   traumaRUs
    Moved to Job Interview assistance forum
  10. by   llg
    I ask the weakness question -- but I usually ask it with a "developmental slant." I'll usually start by asking about aspects of nursing that seem to "come easily for you" or that you seem to be naturally good at. Then I'll ask about things that have been most difficult for them ... that they have had to work hard at.

    What I am looking for most with those questions is honesty. I use it as a "bs detector." People who give me a rehearsed bs answer get downgraded in my interview score. I want to hire people who have insight into their own strengths and weaknesses, have plans for further developing their weaker areas, and who have enough self-assurance to discuss them with me.

    When people give me a bs answer, I sometimes put them on the spot a bit by asking follow-up questions that highlight how silly and fake their answer sounded. It's mean of me: I know. But sometimes, I can't resist. I really hate it when people bs me.
  11. by   TeeDotNurse
    I was asked what my strengths are and what I need to work on. I answered that my strengths are time management, organization and communication. I said I need to work on patience because I can be impatient but that I know this about myself and remind myself that not everyone moves at my speed and that's OK. I said that my experience being a peer tutor and working with children has helped me to learn patience. They seemed satisfied with that answer and have since contacted my references so im hopeful!

    I would just say something that is honest and you really are working/ want to work on. But nothing dangerous to patients!! Like inattention to detail lol.
  12. by   Libby1987
    Think of an example where your weakness came into play and how you handled it.

    If it's say discomfort with confrontation then describe the scenario, how your discomfort with confrontation came into play and both what you did to manage it at the time and have done to improve.
  13. by   llg
    Quote from Libby1987
    Think of an example where your weakness came into play and how you handled it.

    If it's say discomfort with confrontation then describe the scenario, how your discomfort with confrontation came into play and both what you did to manage it at the time and have done to improve.
    Strongly agree. This is the type of question I follow-up with when people give me a rehearsed, bs answer. I ask them to elaborate ... tell me how "being a perfectionist ... or being faster than everyone else ... or whatever" has hurt them, how they responded, etc. What they are planning to do to help prevent further problems with that weakness, etc.
  14. by   Workitinurfava
    I never admit to any weaknesses. That question is a double-edged sword question that could lead one into not selling them-self as a qualified applicant. For every job that I have ever gotten I have said no. I was actually questioned about it, the lady said everyone has weakness and I said I always work hard to never have any.

close