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I'm having a hard time finding a "greatest weakness" to talk about that is an appropriate answer. I know we're supposed to talk about a weakness that we can show we're working on and can talk about how we already improved.

Backstory: I come from a very poor family and had to start working very young and was in control of the house and budget as a child. I've never been bad with time management, budgeting, or leadership because of this. I continued to work full time through undergrad, sometimes while working 60 hours while studying history and biology. I now have a "big girl job" and I lead 5 cancer clinical trial subgroups in protocol review.

In undergrad I went through intensive psychotherapy and really worked on myself. Gained a lot of interpersonal skills and self esteem, worked on my emotional intelligence and my overall mental health. Started working out in undergrad as well and took control of my physical health (lost more than 90lbs, can bench about 190, went from not being about to run 1/4 of a mile to being able to run 5 miles).

My original weakness that I mentioned in my mock interview is that I've never been a patient. I've never had surgery or spent the night in a hospital (except as a baby) and I didn't go to regular doctors appointments until college. All of my ailments have been relatively mild and I just don't have the same experience that most patients have. I can relate to them, but I feel there is still disconnect.

My *real* weakness that I can't say in an interview is that I don't abide by authority hierarchies if there isn't a good reason. I don't go along with the "we all know it's wrong, but he's the boss, so don't question him" BS that you hear about all the time in medicine. I will not say this in an interview because they'll probably kick me off the zoom right there.


My interview is in 2.5 weeks, someone please help lol
 
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They just want to see that you can think critically about yourself and be reflective.
My original weakness that I mentioned in my mock interview is that I've never been a patient. I've never had surgery or spent the night in a hospital (except as a baby) and I didn't go to regular doctors appointments until college. All of my ailments have been relatively mild and I just don't have the same experience that most patients have. I can relate to them, but I feel there is still disconnect.
You could reframe this and say that you are non-confrontational and that you're working on speaking up to share ideas more often or something. Idk.
 
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I'm having a hard time finding a "greatest weakness" to talk about that is an appropriate answer. I know we're supposed to talk about a weakness that we can show we're working on and can talk about how we already improved.

Backstory: I come from a very poor family and had to start working very young and was in control of the house and budget as a child. I've never been bad with time management, budgeting, or leadership because of this. I continued to work full time through undergrad, sometimes while working 60 hours while studying history and biology. I now have a "big girl job" and I lead 5 cancer clinical trial subgroups in protocol review.

In undergrad I went through intensive psychotherapy and really worked on myself. Gained a lot of interpersonal skills and self esteem, worked on my emotional intelligence and my overall mental health. Started working out in undergrad as well and took control of my physical health (lost more than 90lbs, can bench about 190, went from not being about to run 1/4 of a mile to being able to run 5 miles).

My original weakness that I mentioned in my mock interview is that I've never been a patient. I've never had surgery or spent the night in a hospital (except as a baby) and I didn't go to regular doctors appointments until college. All of my ailments have been relatively mild and I just don't have the same experience that most patients have. I can relate to them, but I feel there is still disconnect.

My *real* weakness that I can't say in an interview is that I don't abide by authority hierarchies if there isn't a good reason. I don't go along with the "we all know it's wrong, but he's the boss, so don't question him" BS that you hear about all the time in medicine. I will not say this in an interview because they'll probably kick me off the zoom right there.


My interview is in 2.5 weeks, someone please help lol

One way to re-frame that is: I’m a good listener/I’m attentive and so I learn a lot from my peers and advisors/superiors in both professional and educational settings, particularly because I understand that there is a lot to learn from others based on their perspective. What this also means is that sometimes I have a hard time being vocal about my opinions or questions with superiors, but this is something I’m been actively working on (and seen improvement with through ____ or during ___ activity).

I’m not sure what you think but just one thought!
 
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I'm having a hard time finding a "greatest weakness" to talk about that is an appropriate answer. I know we're supposed to talk about a weakness that we can show we're working on and can talk about how we already improved.

Backstory: I come from a very poor family and had to start working very young and was in control of the house and budget as a child. I've never been bad with time management, budgeting, or leadership because of this. I continued to work full time through undergrad, sometimes while working 60 hours while studying history and biology. I now have a "big girl job" and I lead 5 cancer clinical trial subgroups in protocol review.

In undergrad I went through intensive psychotherapy and really worked on myself. Gained a lot of interpersonal skills and self esteem, worked on my emotional intelligence and my overall mental health. Started working out in undergrad as well and took control of my physical health (lost more than 90lbs, can bench about 190, went from not being about to run 1/4 of a mile to being able to run 5 miles).

My original weakness that I mentioned in my mock interview is that I've never been a patient. I've never had surgery or spent the night in a hospital (except as a baby) and I didn't go to regular doctors appointments until college. All of my ailments have been relatively mild and I just don't have the same experience that most patients have. I can relate to them, but I feel there is still disconnect.

My *real* weakness that I can't say in an interview is that I don't abide by authority hierarchies if there isn't a good reason. I don't go along with the "we all know it's wrong, but he's the boss, so don't question him" BS that you hear about all the time in medicine. I will not say this in an interview because they'll probably kick me off the zoom right there.


My interview is in 2.5 weeks, someone please help lol
So far I'd say your greatest weakness is a lack of introspection.
 
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So far I'd say your greatest weakness is a lack of introspection.
I'd say the two years of psychotherapy made me very good at introspection. It's just finding something that isn't an outright lie or embellishment or something that would not immediately get me rejected. My biggest weaknesses are my mental illness and dyslexia. Going to be a real pain going through medical school with that, but I obviously can't say that.
 
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They just want to see that you can think critically about yourself and be reflective.

You could reframe this and say that you are non-confrontational and that you're working on speaking up to share ideas more often or something. Idk.
Problem with this is that I am 100% confrontational and always have been
 
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There is hierarchy in medicine, at least in academic medicine, for good reason. You don't know what you don't know. It is not acceptable as a trainee in clinical medicine to run off the rails and challenge authority just because you "don't abide by hierarchies," no matter how popular it is these days to decry it. At the end of the day, it's the attending's name on the chart, and as long as that's the case, it's not up to trainees to go rogue.

There is usually ample room for discourse and debate, but in the end the hierarchy needs to be respected.

So no, I would not say that in your interview.
 
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There is hierarchy in medicine, at least in academic medicine, for good reason. You don't know what you don't know. It is not acceptable as a trainee in clinical medicine to run off the rails and challenge authority just because you "don't abide by hierarchies," no matter how popular it is these days to decry it. At the end of the day, it's the attending's name on the chart, and as long as that's the case, it's not up to trainees to go rogue.

There is usually ample room for discourse and debate, but in the end the hierarchy needs to be respected.

So no, I would not say that in your interview.
I definitely understand the attending having the final say on treatment, that's not what I'm saying. I'm saying (for example at my last hospital) a ER doc refused to give pain meds to any black patient for any reason. I was told REPEATEDLY not to report him. I did and was pushed out of the department and was placed in L&D. And I would do it again, because he was in the wrong.
 
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deleted1063986

I hate this question. I answered this question truthfully at one of my first interviews last cycle and the interviewer responded with "Well, people who aren't good at [insert weakness I used here] shouldn't be doctors." I then said I would work on developing these skills in medical school. I got rejected from that school.

Just say you need to work on time management or something.
 
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I hate this question. I answered this question truthfully at one of my first interviews last cycle and the interviewer responded with "Well, people who aren't good at [insert weakness I used here] shouldn't be doctors." I then said I would work on developing these skills in medical school. I got rejected from that school.

Just say you need to work on time management or something.
I also hate this question. I think it encourages students to either lie about their weaknesses to find something palatable or be punished if they're honest.
 
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I also hate this question. I think it encourages students to either lie about their weaknesses to find something palatable or be punished if they're honest.
EXACTLY!!!!!! They say they are looking for introspection, but, as @make_things_better's experience makes clear, they are really looking for you to out yourself and help them weed you out as they look for reasons to eliminate people from the pool. As I get closer and closer to being in the middle of it (am definitely applying next cycle after pushing back at the last minute this time around), it is becoming increasing clear that the winners are those who are best at reading between the lines and mastering the game. The key to this question is to find something plausible and then being able to sell it, rather than baring your soul and expecting brownie points for doing so.
 
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I would say this is actually a good question, coming from personality-wise things. Along with the failure one. (Ethos: multiple accepts after one cycle now MS1 at my top choice). They're also trying to see if you've been challenged, wrong, mistaken, immature, if you even recognize it and if you can confidently admit to imperfections, and how you treat yourself afterward. I argue that AT LEAST the four years of medical school and 3+ of residency will be you needing to deal with this on a weekly, if not daily, basis. Maybe you feel outed or your true answer wasn't good enough, I can't speak to each interviewer's impression. Some people may still be perfectionists or judgers out there and that makes me sad. But one experience does not a majority make. If your affect screams a certain thing, maybe they want to know if you're self-aware or not. Even better if you have a story/evidence for how you've already applied what you've learned about yourself to continual challenges of it. Do you know what provokes your weaknesses or not? Are you in control of your emotions and goals? Or are you already so mature and seasoned that you have absolutely zero things to work on with yourself? (Not this answer!!!) I think these are important to consider when evaluating if a person can sustain medical education and the resultant career.
 
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Problem with this is that I am 100% confrontational and always have been

And some people are just hard-wired like that. It very much is what it is. That being said, you will have to:

1) Do your best to soften those hard edges. And it sounds like you are already working on it.
2) Figure out a way to make it work long enough to move your goals forward. I was watching an episode of a popular TV show (+1 if anyone can guess it) lately and the quote, "You are not good enough at this game to be too good for this game" really spoke volumes about moving forward. In order to get to whatever next level in your career you want to achieve, you will have to swallow some ridiculous stuff once in a while. You need to come up with strategies to survive and thrive in these situations. Call it acting, call it fake it until you make it, but they are necessary skills if you find that you are naturally not good at things like this.

David D, MD - USMLE and MCAT Tutor
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Introspection is a required trait for a doctor.
Yup, adcoms on SDN have been pretty consistent in expressing this viewpoint, and I have no doubt it's true, but as a future applicant I'm certainly going to keep in mind that a med school interview is not a therapy session, and that anything I say can and will be used against me. :cool:
 
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It's not so much the weakness itself that the question is asking, but the scenario surrounding it and how have addressed it (or will address it). As long it's a reasonable thing it won't backfire on you; don't overthink it.
 

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I'm having a hard time finding a "greatest weakness" to talk about that is an appropriate answer. I know we're supposed to talk about a weakness that we can show we're working on and can talk about how we already improved.

Backstory: I come from a very poor family and had to start working very young and was in control of the house and budget as a child. I've never been bad with time management, budgeting, or leadership because of this. I continued to work full time through undergrad, sometimes while working 60 hours while studying history and biology. I now have a "big girl job" and I lead 5 cancer clinical trial subgroups in protocol review.

In undergrad I went through intensive psychotherapy and really worked on myself. Gained a lot of interpersonal skills and self esteem, worked on my emotional intelligence and my overall mental health. Started working out in undergrad as well and took control of my physical health (lost more than 90lbs, can bench about 190, went from not being about to run 1/4 of a mile to being able to run 5 miles).

My original weakness that I mentioned in my mock interview is that I've never been a patient. I've never had surgery or spent the night in a hospital (except as a baby) and I didn't go to regular doctors appointments until college. All of my ailments have been relatively mild and I just don't have the same experience that most patients have. I can relate to them, but I feel there is still disconnect.

My *real* weakness that I can't say in an interview is that I don't abide by authority hierarchies if there isn't a good reason. I don't go along with the "we all know it's wrong, but he's the boss, so don't question him" BS that you hear about all the time in medicine. I will not say this in an interview because they'll probably kick me off the zoom right there.


My interview is in 2.5 weeks, someone please help lol
It seems that a couple of your weaknesses were lacking confidence in yourself and not tending to your physical well-being during your early years. You recognized that it was an issue, made a plan to address it, and subsequently put yourself in uncomfortable situations to experience the personal growth that you did. As a result of your active self-improvement, you made close friends, lost weight, became physically fit, and now have immense empathy for those who are dealing with the same struggles (i.e many of your future patients).

I personally would be very satisfied with such an answer. It is candid, relatable, shows immense personal growth, and should not raise many eyebrows. Avoid talking about your psychotherapy sessions and mental health. Similarly, do not talk about your difficulties with authority figures.

Believe it or not, adcoms actually do value candid introspective answers. But, there is a major difference between being candid and shooting yourself in the foot. Sadly, many do not know the difference. Cop-outs like "working too hard" or "being too nice" never impress and will turn many interviewers off. Others also fault answers that appear too polished. And of course, there will be those who unknowingly self-sabotage their application by going with answers like being "unable to handle stress", or in one case (true story), "being cutt-throat".

Just my thoughts.
 
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I'm having a hard time finding a "greatest weakness" to talk about that is an appropriate answer. I know we're supposed to talk about a weakness that we can show we're working on and can talk about how we already improved.

Backstory: I come from a very poor family and had to start working very young and was in control of the house and budget as a child. I've never been bad with time management, budgeting, or leadership because of this. I continued to work full time through undergrad, sometimes while working 60 hours while studying history and biology. I now have a "big girl job" and I lead 5 cancer clinical trial subgroups in protocol review.

In undergrad I went through intensive psychotherapy and really worked on myself. Gained a lot of interpersonal skills and self esteem, worked on my emotional intelligence and my overall mental health. Started working out in undergrad as well and took control of my physical health (lost more than 90lbs, can bench about 190, went from not being about to run 1/4 of a mile to being able to run 5 miles).

My original weakness that I mentioned in my mock interview is that I've never been a patient. I've never had surgery or spent the night in a hospital (except as a baby) and I didn't go to regular doctors appointments until college. All of my ailments have been relatively mild and I just don't have the same experience that most patients have. I can relate to them, but I feel there is still disconnect.

My *real* weakness that I can't say in an interview is that I don't abide by authority hierarchies if there isn't a good reason. I don't go along with the "we all know it's wrong, but he's the boss, so don't question him" BS that you hear about all the time in medicine. I will not say this in an interview because they'll probably kick me off the zoom right there.


My interview is in 2.5 weeks, someone please help lol
I wonder if your biggest weakness is a sort of constant, white-knuckled egoic striving due to a deep need for validation that you hide below your tough exterior
 
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deleted1063986

I'm genuinely curious what went in the brackets.

[holding their liquor]
[evading capture]
[concealing their misanthropy]
[killing me softly with their song]
It wasn't anything like that. Perhaps it wasn't the best answer I could come up with, but I don't think it deserved the reaction it got. It was something about not being able to carry conversations very well, which is something I have had to work on in doctoring sessions as a medical student at an equally great school.

I was asked this question one other time on the interview trail and my answer was that I have trouble with confidence. That answer was met with a disgusted look.

I like @Moko's advice but using a weakness you've already overcome also seems like a cop-out to me when the question is what IS your greatest weakness.
 
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Probably very true, but wouldn't admitting that be a problem when interviewing for admission into a profession with a pretty strict hierarchy that has to be followed?
It could be a touchy subject, but I have a feeling that attitude may come across anyway. I think it’s better to admit that you have recognized your weakness and are working to overcome it than to appear not to be aware of it.
 
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Believe it or not, adcoms actually do value candid introspective answers. But, there is a major difference between being candid and shooting yourself in the foot. Sadly, many do not know the difference. Cop-outs like "working too hard" or "being too nice" never impress and will turn many interviewers off. Others also fault answers that appear too polished. And of course, there will be those who unknowingly self-sabotage their application by going with answers like being "unable to handle stress", or in one case (true story), "being cutt-throat".
Interviewer: What would you say is your biggest weakness?

Applicant: Oh Jesus, oh Hell, don't make me choose. I'm sloppy and totally not into details. I can't handle criticism worth a damn. I don't take orders and have a hard time following instructions. I'm a little loose with the truth when I feel it will be to my advantage. I have been called mean and spiteful by more people than I can count. Cashiers think I'm rude. I'm a horrible procrastinator and frequently don't follow through with things. I hate children and old people. I have trouble forming long-term relationships, and I'm prone to self-sabotage. I blame others for my own failures and shortcomings, but I'm manipulative enough to oftentimes get away with it. I sent my therapist into therapy. You're cute, want to get a drink or five after this is over?
 
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It seems that a couple of your weaknesses were lacking confidence in yourself and not tending to your physical well-being during your early years. You recognized that it was an issue, made a plan to address it, and subsequently put yourself in uncomfortable situations to experience the personal growth that you did. As a result of your active self-improvement, you made close friends, lost weight, became physically fit, and now have immense empathy for those who are dealing with the same struggles (i.e many of your future patients).

I personally would be very satisfied with such an answer. It is candid, relatable, shows immense personal growth, and should not raise many eyebrows. Avoid talking about your psychotherapy sessions and mental health. Similarly, do not talk about your difficulties with authority figures.

Believe it or not, adcoms actually do value candid introspective answers. But, there is a major difference between being candid and shooting yourself in the foot. Sadly, many do not know the difference. Cop-outs like "working too hard" or "being too nice" never impress and will turn many interviewers off. Others also fault answers that appear too polished. And of course, there will be those who unknowingly self-sabotage their application by going with answers like being "unable to handle stress", or in one case (true story), "being cutt-throat".

Just my thoughts.
Do you think I could still use those examples even though confidence and self esteem haven't really been issues since I was 18? Thank you for the help!
 

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It could be a touchy subject, but I have a feeling that attitude may come across anyway. I think it’s better to admit that you have recognized your weakness and are working to overcome it than to appear not to be aware of it.
VERY valid point!!! :)

TBH, I have my own issues with this (surprise, surprise! :cool:) but generally have to be pretty comfortable before it manifests itself.

In an uncomfortable, nerve wracking setting like a med school interview, I'd be far too intimidated to actually have it come across. I think my feeling would be that, assuming someone like @thecatdoctor has the self-awareness to be cognizant of the issue, I'd mask it and find something else to discuss rather than be honest and disclose it.

Of course, many people so afflicted actually have no self-awareness (they are right, everyone else is wrong, and there is no problem!). :cool: That's a whole other can of worms, and I wouldn't want to be lumped in with them, hoping for points for evidencing self-awareness.
 
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How would you score yourself on possible related issues, such as defensiveness and response to criticism?
I definitely think my vibe comes off much more defensive on the internet than in person. I'm generally not an internet person so that communication is a little fuzzy. And when it comes to general criticism (in person) I think I pretty well now. I took it a lot worse in high school when I was theatre kid than I have as an adult in the workplace or at school. Employer and advisor appointments have generally gone well over the years. Big exception to that is a very sexist thesis professor I had as a sophomore who referred to me as "The Breasts" since I was the only woman in the class.

I also know you made this last post assuming that I am dense and aloof as a joke. I am trying to answer honestly because I would like some actual help.
 
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I definitely think my vibe comes off much more defensive on the internet than in person. I'm generally not an internet person so that communication is a little fuzzy. And when it comes to general criticism (in person) I think I pretty well now. I took it a lot worse in high school when I was theatre kid than I have as an adult in the workplace or at school. Employer and advisor appointments have generally gone well over the years. Big exception to that is a very sexist thesis professor I had as a sophomore who referred to me as "The Breasts" since I was the only woman in the class.

I also know you made this last post assuming that I am dense and aloof as a joke. I am trying to answer honestly because I would like some actual help.
FWIW, I totally get where you are coming from, empathize, and have been pretty clear regarding my feeling about the hidden agenda embedded within the question beyond testing our introspection skills.

That said, you should realize that @LunaOri is totally awesome, really knows what she is talking about, has a ton of experience, and, at least in my experience, doesn't joke around. I am 1,000% sure she is trying to help. Her points are totally valid, but, as I said, in your shoes I'd probably do what I can to mask a weakness I think adcoms would react negatively to, and give them something I think they'd find more acceptable, rather than demonstrate awareness and hope to get points for it.

JMHO, and again, I'd never dismiss anything @LunaOri says out of hand. And, she's not even paying me to say this -- it's just been my experience with her on SDN!! :cool:
 
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I get the vibe that you are trying to come up with something you think an interviewer would want to hear as opposed to something that actually matters to you.

Also, keep in mind it doesn't have to necessarily be something "wrong" with you. You can certainly talk about something/a weakness that helped you develop as a person, like what you mentioned in high school. It doesn't have to be some mind-bending weakness or story that will shock your interviewer or bring them to tears...they just want to see your human side, and your ability to evaluate situations or aspects of yourself that may be more difficult to navigate (at least from my experience).
 
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I get the vibe that you are trying to come up with something you think an interviewer would want to hear as opposed to something that actually matters to you.

Also, keep in mind it doesn't have to necessarily be something "wrong" with you. You can certainly talk about something/a weakness that helped you develop as a person, like what you mentioned in high school. It doesn't have to be some mind-bending weakness or story that will shock your interviewer or bring them to tears...they just want to see your human side, and your ability to evaluate situations or aspects of yourself that may be more difficult to navigate (at least from my experience).
At least to me, question is not so much coming up with something they'd want to hear, as opposed to something that matters. I think it's more whether to be honest, at the risk of turning them off, versus finding something more acceptable to a med school admissions gatekeeper (i.e., avoiding something they wouldn't want to hear!).

If I am framing the issue correctly, the choice between evidencing true introspection and keeping my cards closer to my vest becomes obvious, at least to me. As with everything else in this process, YMMV.
 
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I definitely think my vibe comes off much more defensive on the internet than in person. I'm generally not an internet person so that communication is a little fuzzy. And when it comes to general criticism (in person) I think I pretty well now. I took it a lot worse in high school when I was theatre kid than I have as an adult in the workplace or at school. Employer and advisor appointments have generally gone well over the years. Big exception to that is a very sexist thesis professor I had as a sophomore who referred to me as "The Breasts" since I was the only woman in the class.

I also know you made this last post assuming that I am dense and aloof as a joke. I am trying to answer honestly because I would like some actual help.
Nope. Not what I thought.
 
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It wasn't anything like that. Perhaps it wasn't the best answer I could come up with, but I don't think it deserved the reaction it got. It was something about not being able to carry conversations very well, which is something I have had to work on in doctoring sessions as a medical student at an equally great school.
I don't know, it seems like the process may have worked, IMHO. They asked a question, you answered honestly, and they were able to better judge where you stand relative to the other applicants given their risk tolerance. Some schools seem to enjoy polishing the rough edges, others prefer students who need almost nothing in order to excel. Either way, it sound like you ended up in the right spot, so congrats for that.
 
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Med Ed

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I definitely think my vibe comes off much more defensive on the internet than in person. I'm generally not an internet person so that communication is a little fuzzy. And when it comes to general criticism (in person) I think I pretty well now. I took it a lot worse in high school when I was theatre kid than I have as an adult in the workplace or at school. Employer and advisor appointments have generally gone well over the years. Big exception to that is a very sexist thesis professor I had as a sophomore who referred to me as "The Breasts" since I was the only woman in the class.

I also know you made this last post assuming that I am dense and aloof as a joke. I am trying to answer honestly because I would like some actual help.
Since you aren't generally an internet person I think we should cut you some slack, but you should be aware that your written words are all we have to go on, and some people will parse them very finely.

For instance, earlier you stated that you are "100% confrontational and always have been." You also seem to imply that confrontation is the only strategy you have for sticking up for yourself and others.

As someone who has been involved in admission for some time, I see this as a red flag. Confrontation is an easy but relatively immature way to handle advocacy for self or others. Sometimes its unavoidable, but ideally when we get older and smarter we figure out how to pick our battles, be patient, and play the longer game.

Every medical school occasionally admits applicants with the chronically confrontational phenotype, and these people are very challenging as students. They are argumentative and resistant to constructive feedback, and over time become isolated as they gradually alienate themselves from peers and faculty. These are some of the folks who cause us to breathe a big sigh of relief when they match and graduate.

Does this describe you? I don't know, we've obviously never even met, and this type of communication always loses something in translation. But based on what you have shared in this thread it seems like a possibility, and that may explain some of the reactions you have had on this thread.
 
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Goro

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Every medical school occasionally admits applicants with the chronically confrontational phenotype, and these people are very challenging as students. They are argumentative and resistant to constructive feedback, and over time become isolated as they gradually alienate themselves from peers and faculty. These are some of the folks who cause us to breathe a big sigh of relief when they match and graduate.
Or we breathe a sigh of relief when they get expelled for unprofessional behavior or failing rotations (no mean feat either, given how we try to salvage our most problematic students.) This phenotype was held by our all-time worst student, BTW. But the last time I looked, that person hasn't been fired from their current position, so there is hope.
 
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I don't know, it seems like the process may have worked, IMHO. They asked a question, you answered honestly, and they were able to better judge where you stand relative to the other applicants given their risk tolerance. Some schools seem to enjoy polishing the rough edges, others prefer students who need almost nothing in order to excel. Either way, it sound like you ended up in the right spot, so congrats for that.
I suppose. To me, the question puts the applicants in between a rock and a hard place. I understand the value in recognizing one's own weaknesses and bettering oneself, but asking the question in an interview setting requires the applicant to either:
1) expose a real weakness, which could be viewed as a red flag
2) spin an answer more positively, which could be viewed as avoiding the question (also a red flag)
 
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OK, a lot of talk still about feeling like this question can sometimes have no good answer. I state a release here for the interviewers that are crotchety and terrible and just want to see perfect people- thats a problem in itself. But if you feel like relaying your weakness and your state of personal growth in the moment will out you to the interviewer negatively, maybe think about what that means. They want to see if you know who you are and if you have a realistic plan about how you're going to make it out of medical training alive, nonetheless thriving and well-liked by patients and faculty. Appreciate their experience watching many go through this process. Maybe they worry the weakness you offer is not conducive to the path, or that you're not aware at all it's not conducive, or you're aware but you're so headstrong and set on fitting yourself into this career that you don't ignore the issue it might become. Or maybe they think this person needs another year or two to work on this before they enter the biggest challenge of their life. Maybe I'm too optimistic, but I really believe the majority are looking to be an additional check for if you're truly in the right place, versus testing and tricking you to slash the pile down as much as possible. I know this may not be well-received but just think about it. I hope that the majority of answers that reflect an introspective, mature, realistic, leveled, amiable person who has the skin to get through will be viewed favorably no matter what they are.
 
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KnightDoc

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But if you feel like relaying your weakness and your state of personal growth in the moment will out you to the interviewer negatively, maybe think about what that means. They want to see if you know who you are and if you have a realistic plan about how you're going to make it out of medical training alive, nonetheless thriving and well-liked by patients and faculty. Appreciate their experience watching many go through this process. Maybe they worry the weakness you offer is not conducive to the path, or that you're not aware at all it's not conducive, or you're aware but you're so headstrong and set on fitting yourself into this career that you don't ignore the issue it might become. Or maybe they think this person needs another year or two to work on this before they enter the biggest challenge of their life. Maybe I'm too optimistic, but I really believe the majority are looking to be an additional check for if you're truly in the right place, versus testing and tricking you to slash the pile down as much as possible. I know this may not be well-received but just think about it. I hope that the majority of answers that reflect an introspective, mature, realistic, leveled, amiable person who has the skin to get through will be viewed favorably no matter what they are.
This all sounds extremely reasonable, but it's probably unrealistic to expect any of us to willingly put ourselves through this process only to eagerly embrace being rejected for our own good, in the humble, subjective opinion of an esteemed, highly experienced interviewer.

Either we truly lack the required introspection necessary to make the disclosure, or, yes, we are headstrong and aren't going through this just to be slapped down at the interview. Thanks anyway, but this sounds like the strongest reason yet to play cards close to the vest and to give a safe, acceptable answer to the question!! Most of us truly aren't looking for an "additional check" after committing so much time and effort to this endeavor. We just want a freaking A!!!! We all want our shot, even with the knowledge that a tiny minority of us won't make it through. :cool:
 
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Med Ed

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I suppose. To me, the question puts the applicants in between a rock and a hard place. I understand the value in recognizing one's own weaknesses and bettering oneself, but asking the question in an interview setting requires the applicant to either:
1) expose a real weakness, which could be viewed as a red flag
2) spin an answer more positively, which could be viewed as avoiding the question (also a red flag)
If it makes you feel any better, every interview question presents an opportunity to raise a red flag.
 
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I know! But I wasn’t talking about the perspective of the applicant. I wouldn’t think you’d go through the trouble if you believed yourself unready. Just wanted to put it out there because I personally believe pursuing a medical career is more about continually discerning if it’s a good fit for you in multiple facets, not just saying the right stuff to secure the A. That’s just what made me successful right away and what I got great feedback on, so I acknowledge maybe it was just the avenue that worked for me. Completely alright if you disagree. If you and OP feel better giving a prepared, “safe” answer, completely your prerogative. I know that many succeed this way! But many interviewers see it coming a mile away and it’s not a great look. OP sounds like they have a lot of experiences they can draw from so it could still be genuine. But OP also fully acknowledged that they have issues with hierarchy they feel would get them bounced quick if honest about. Then they made it sound like they didn’t actually think it’s a “weakness”, it’s just a thing they don’t like about the current system. This is where I wonder, is that just being headstrong ignoring a bad fit or can OP use his honest answer and turn it into a calm discussion about what attitudes they could employ to survive and/or implement change to lessen intimidation tactics in hierarchical teams? Of course, you have to read the room. Again, up to you to decide what will work best for you and your story.
 
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Goro

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I know! But I wasn’t talking about the perspective of the applicant. I wouldn’t think you’d go through the trouble if you believed yourself unready. Just wanted to put it out there because I personally believe pursuing a medical career is more about continually discerning if it’s a good fit for you in multiple facets, not just saying the right stuff to secure the A. That’s just what made me successful right away and what I got great feedback on, so I acknowledge maybe it was just the avenue that worked for me. Completely alright if you disagree. If you and OP feel better giving a prepared, “safe” answer, completely your prerogative. I know that many succeed this way! But many interviewers see it coming a mile away and it’s not a great look. OP sounds like they have a lot of experiences they can draw from so it could still be genuine. But OP also fully acknowledged that they have issues with hierarchy they feel would get them bounced quick if honest about. Then they made it sound like they didn’t actually think it’s a “weakness”, it’s just a thing they don’t like about the current system. This is where I wonder, is that just being headstrong ignoring a bad fit or can OP use his honest answer and turn it into a calm discussion about what attitudes they could employ to survive and/or implement change to lessen intimidation tactics in hierarchical teams? Of course, you have to read the room. Again, up to you to decide what will work best for you and your story.
You would be surprised who many people apply even though they KNOW they're unready. They just believe in magic thinking, or have an attitude of "you miss every shot you don't' take", as if applying to medical school is like pick-up basketball.
 
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8YearsLate

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Just....be honest lol. Otherwise they will sense that your greatest weakness is honesty.

I said that I struggle with self-care, punctuality, and conflict resolution with the people closest to me. However, that then gave me a chance to talk about how working in medicine gives me a chance to learn self-care, that I have restructured my life to work on my tardiness (I have), and that I'm good at conflict resolution in the workplace. No one is perfect, show your human side.
 
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Deltasidearm

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As has been said before, just be honest about it. Something that isn't genuine will come across that way and doesn't reflect well. Being honest will make sure you can actually talk about it and will prevent your answer from being cliché. My biggest weakness is definitely something that throws up a warning flag in interviews but it certainly did not prevent me from getting multiple acceptances. The most important thing is to show your introspection.
 
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cj_cregg

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I think most weaknesses can be "palatable" when framed correctly. For OP, it might be something along the lines of: "I have trouble staying quiet when something is going on that I perceive as being immoral or wrong. This can be a good thing - it helps me be a advocate for patients and colleagues when they're in a tough position and may not be able to speak up for themselves, but it can also lead to unnecessary conflict and there have definitely been times when I came to realize that my perception of the situation wasn't necessarily accurate. I've been working on this by ....."

The big thing is acknowledging that you know it's a problem, and that you are taking steps to improve it.
 
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