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Preparing for an interview....weaknesses???

Career   (106,384 Views 9 Comments)

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I am trying to prepare for an interview for a school nursing position....I've worked in the hospital for 5 years. I know a lot of employers like to ask "What are your strengths and what are your weaknesses?" Well I could honestly list and elaborate on about 5 strengths, but I am having a hard time thinking of weaknesses I could discuss. I'm really not trying to be conceited, but my employee evaluations every year have been great, and I am having a hard time coming up with something that would be ok to say. The only thing I have thought of is that I am not bilingual. Does anyone else have any suggestions for acceptable weaknesses? thanks

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RN_Amy has 5 years experience as a RN and specializes in Emergency/Anaesthetics/PACU.

57 Posts; 1,827 Profile Views

I too have trouble with this question.... however my educator came up with a great response.

"I set myself extremely high standards and at times, find it difficult to work with people who don't work to this standards"

Or something to that effect....

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Dempather is a RN and specializes in Emergency Room, Cardiology, Medicine.

182 Posts; 4,759 Profile Views

Always answer in the sense that you make yourself look great. An example:

I focus a lot on caring for others. Sometimes, in doing so, I focus less on myself and more on them.

... yada, yada..

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llg has 42 years experience as a PhD, RN and specializes in Nursing Professional Development.

5 Followers; 13,158 Posts; 58,530 Profile Views

As someone who has interviewed (and hired) a lot of job applicants in my life, I can tell you that I hate hearing the type of answers that the previous 2 posters suggested. When I hear responses like that, I know they are "made up" and "practiced" by the applicant in order to avoid having to discuss a real learning need. I recognize "BS" when I hear it. Do yourself a favor and don't insult the intelligence of the interviewer by giving a "BS" answer.

When I ask that question, I want a person's honest answer -- though I understand that a person will "spin it" in a way that doesn't sound too bad. I want to hear what their learning needs are, the areas in which they want to develop, etc. If a candidate truly thinks they are perfect and have no need to learn anything, then I suspect that the person doesn't have much insight into their behavior and/or will not be receptive to learning new things.

Having insight into your own behavior, strengths, weaknesses, how others perceive you, etc. is an important skill for success in the workplace. It is an important key element in learning to regular your behavior so that you can be effective. People who ask that interview are looking to see whether the applicant has that ability. Giving them a "BS" answer shows them that you do not.

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MrChicagoRN has 30 years experience as a RN and specializes in Leadership, Psych, HomeCare, Amb. Care.

2,589 Posts; 28,462 Profile Views

llg said:
As someone who has interviewed (and hired) a lot of job applicants in my life, I can tell you that I hate hearing the type of answers that the previous 2 posters suggested.

Having insight into your own behavior, strengths, weaknesses, how others perceive you, etc. is an important skill for success in the workplace. It is an important key element in learning to regular your behavior so that you can be effective. People who ask that interview are looking to see whether the applicant has that ability. Giving them a "BS" answer shows them that you do not.

+1 I've always been less concerned about what the weakness is (unless it's a total lack in a core competency), then what it tells me about the person.

Read any article about interviewing. Things like "working too hard" isn't a good answer unless perhaps if it includes something like "I put everything into my job, which makes me tired & interferes with my family life, but I'm trying to achieve a better balance." or "i need to work on organizing/prioritizing my workday so I can take my lunch breaks & leave on time."

or

"Sometimes I'm such a perfectionist that I expect everyone else to do the job exactly as I would do it, even when they are doing a good job. And that sometimes leads to conflict."

Did anyone see "The Office" last week? Excellent example of how to NOT answer the questions.

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texas_lvn specializes in Med/Surg, ER and ICU!!!.

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I was a nurse for HH for 2 years and decided to go to Acute setting. I came out and told them that my skills needed help. She laughed, and stated "Dear, I hire for attitude. Skills can be taught but attitude can't". I got the job, and am loving every minute of it.

School----how about learning when the inoculations must be received, but then say, I know that any weakness I have can be worked on and can eventually be a strength.

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Daytonite has 40 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in med/surg, telemetry, IV therapy, mgmt.

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Ha! Ha! Ha! Well, some of these responses have been interesting! I have interviewed and hired a lot of people as well as been the one being interviewed. I'm on the side of those who say you should talk about a weakness that makes yourself look good. One of mine is that I have to stay busy, so I often end up never taking breaks. I can't sit down unless I've made one last check on all my patients just to make sure every thing is OK and usually there's something that they need, so I never get to take a break. Another of my weaknesses is that I think I am a slow learner. I'll give you an example. When I started having patients with chest pain I got frustrated with myself for always forgetting one little thing or another to assess in them but didn't realize it until I would sit down to chart the episode. After two or three times of this I finally sat down and worked up my own little flow sheet to carry around on my clip board. Now, I just pull it out when ever I have a patient who gets chest pain, follow it and never forget anything. I'm a big list maker. Recognizing a weakness is one thing; doing something about it also nets points and reveals a lot about how you deal with your shortcomings. Positive attitude is always a winner.

These kinds of questions do not have cut and dried answers. They are specifically designed to be open ended to get you to elaborate, open up and reveal information about yourself.

If you want to know what your weaknesses are, think about all the times that you mentally wanted to kick yourself in the pants when something happened at work and you said to yourself, "I should have done xxx." What you failed to do in that particular situation can be viewed as a shortcoming, or a weakness, but the thought of it as being such came and went long ago. Our minds are self-protective of our esteem and self-worth in that way. Things about the way you practice nursing that you know you need to improve can also be thought of as current weaknesses.

Hope that helps to give you something to think about.

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48 Posts; 2,166 Profile Views

Thanks for the advice....I'm think I'm going to go with not being bilingual (kind of a big deal now here in Texas) and the fact that I'm not incredibly outspoken and have a hard time confronting people sometimes. I actually had a nursing professor tell me in college that I would never make it in grad school if I didn't "speak up and get my ideas out there. I've had a few instances at my current job where I felt like someone kind of "walked all over me" and I didn't speak up about it. I'm getting better at it though!

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neneRN has 8 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Emergency, Trauma.

642 Posts; 7,544 Profile Views

I fairly recently changed roles, and I answered this question with one of my weaknesses being lack of experience in this particular position. Assuming school nursing is new to you, I would answer that lack of experience in this setting is your weakness, followed by how your strengths will assist you in learning quickly, adapting, etc. Its a straightforward answer that interviewers will appreciate. Worked for me!

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