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Help with the Strength & Weakness interview question.

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by Code Caffeine Code Caffeine (Member)

Code Caffeine has <1 years experience and works as a New Graduate RN.

1,609 Visitors; 44 Posts

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Hi all,

I have been thinking about how to answer the What is your biggest weakness question in case I am asked. My thought is as a new graduate nurse, I have a ton of clinical weaknesses with time management being the biggest. If frame the answer as "As a new graduate nurse, my biggest weakness is time management, but I am actively working on ways to improve my time management skills by researching the best ways to get organized and other nursing strategies to improve time management."

Is this a good answer OR do I stay away from Time management as an answer all together and focus on a personality flaw? What are some examples of this? This is a tough question and I really want to get it right.

Thank you!

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Sour Lemon has 9 years experience.

711 Likes; 2 Followers; 28,846 Visitors; 4,073 Posts

Mine was that I often have to remind myself to express appreciation towards the people on my "team". I'm not someone who requires a lot of praise, so I'm not naturally sensitive to other people's need for it.

It was a genuine answer. The director who asked me said she was the same way. It really just depends on who's interviewing you.

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llg has 40 years experience as a PhD, RN and works as a Nursing Professional Development + Academic Facult.

242 Likes; 5 Followers; 57,549 Visitors; 12,974 Posts

I think "time management" is fine. It is expected that a new grad will struggle with time management: so, admitting that it is something that you are working to improve is not a bad thing. Just be sure to emphasize that you are improving and look forward to mastering this skill as you get a little experience. Don't dwell on the negative aspects much: emphasize your positive attitude about conquering it.

Also, it's usually good to be prepared to answer a follow-up question or two about whatever weakness/strength you choose to discuss. That's one way I assess whether or not the candidate is making up a fake answer, etc. I ask them to give an example of how that weakness has hurt them in the past, what they are doing to improve, etc.

Good luck!

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NICU Guy has 4 years experience as a BSN, RN and works as a NICU RN.

223 Likes; 1 Follower; 30,799 Visitors; 3,237 Posts

During interviews my weakness is that "I fail to ask for help when I need to. I just work hard and efficiently as possible. I don't want to bother people even though if they needed help I would gladly help them. Asking for help when I need it, is something I need to work on."

Edited by NICU Guy

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Emergent has 25 years experience and works as a Emergency Room RN.

1,270 Likes; 6 Followers; 62,643 Visitors; 2,587 Posts

During interviews my weakness is that "I fail to ask for help when I need to. I just work hard and efficiently as possible. I don't want to bother people even though if they needed help I would gladly help them." It is a strength that is disguised as a weakness.

How about "I'm a perfectionist to a fault."? ;)

I hate these stupid questions. This one is particularly annoying.

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2 Likes; 3,166 Visitors; 380 Posts

@guyinbabeland. I would disagree. It's definitely a weakness and would be seen as such, not a strength

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NICU Guy has 4 years experience as a BSN, RN and works as a NICU RN.

223 Likes; 1 Follower; 30,799 Visitors; 3,237 Posts

@guyinbabeland. I would disagree. It's definitely a weakness and would be seen as such, not a strength

I phrased it wrong. I know it is a weakness, but it is one that may not looked upon too harshly. If you said "My weakness is that I can never get to work on time" or "I love to socialize with my coworkers and it puts me behind in my work" would cause an interviewer to not consider you.

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Nurse Beth has 30 years experience as a MSN and works as a Nursing Professional Development Specialist.

363 Likes; 10 Followers; 82 Articles; 224,941 Visitors; 1,696 Posts

Your answer is good. A couple of tips- you can avoid using the word "weakness" altogether and frame it as an opportunity for improvement. What will then be remembered about you is completely positive.

Have a second, different response prepared. An interviewer may ask "Tell us about another weakness".

I don't recommend using "I'm a perfectionist" as it has become a cliche. Likewise, avoid a "weakness" that is not germane to the position, as in "I'm not good at presentations". Be genuine, as in "I have set a goal of being a better delegator. I can see that it takes a team working together to provide the best care. Every shift I push myself out of my comfort zone and ask for help. It's getting easier".

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llg has 40 years experience as a PhD, RN and works as a Nursing Professional Development + Academic Facult.

242 Likes; 5 Followers; 57,549 Visitors; 12,974 Posts

I strongly recommend that you not use the "perfectionist" answer. I almost always hold that against a candidate as I know they are giving me a B.S. answer -- and I want to see them discuss an honest answer. People using the "perfectionist" answer often have a lot of difficulty answering follow-up questions about that weakness and the conversation gets very awkward when I ask them to discuss it further. Then, the candidate and I are sitting there, with the candidate getting all flustered because we both know I have just caught them in a lie.

Start with the truth. Pick something that you truly would like to improve on and talk about your desire and work to improve it. That keeps the conversation positive and gives the impression that your "weakness" won't be a "weakness" for very long. But if you are being honest, the interviewing will see that and feel positively about your way of handling an area that you need to work on.

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Code Caffeine has <1 years experience and works as a New Graduate RN.

1,609 Visitors; 44 Posts

Thank you Nurse Beth!

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