maybedeadcat

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Hi! I'm officially preparing for an interview and I'm having a little trouble with this question, not because I have no weaknesses, but because I'm worried I'll come off looking bad.

My first thought is to discuss my ongoing needle phobia (I know) and how I've been slowly desensitizing myself to prepare for med school and beyond. But I don't want to shoot myself in the foot. (Side note- A LOR from a physician I shadowed discusses this issue and how we worked on it together, so it's not like it's a total secret from adcoms)

Should I look for something else? Thanks!
 

LizzyM

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This is not so much a question about your weaknesses as it is about your self-awareness, your ability to be self-critical, and your willingness to do something about it. You seem to have everything going for you in the response you've been thinking about for this question.
 

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"I care too much" and "I work too hard" are always great answers

But actually, don't do that. Be honest (unless of course your biggest weakness is something like heroin) but don't forget to talk about what you are doing to overcome that weakness
 

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GrapesofRath

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These are actually bad answers IMO.
Literally those are two of the worst things you could give to an ADCOM in this kind of essay.

Perspective is everything here. Showing how you've managed your weakness and what it has revealed about you and how it has influenced you for the better. I'd imagine this is probably a type of question that does a good job weeding out a fair number of applicants and I think some ADCOMs have said so on here in the past as well; this really is an important prompt.
 
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Goro

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100% agreed. Actually, it's very simple: since when is an asset a weakness????

If anyone still doesn't understand, see the wise LizzyM's post above.

Literally those are two of the worst things you could give to an ADCOM in this kind of essay.

Perspective is everything here. Showing how you've managed your weakness and what it has revealed about you and how it has influenced you for the better. I'd imagine this is probably a type of question that does a good job weeding out a fair number of applicants and I think some ADCOMs have said so on here in the past as well; this really is an important prompt.
 

coldcase331

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@Goro What if one of your biggest weaknesses growing up was being shy? I have worked on this weakness throughout college and it is barely noticeable anymore, although there might be a moment or two where it shows. I know that the last thing an ADCOM wants to accept is a shy doctor, but this would be me being honest with myself. Any thoughts?
 

Goro

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I'm a shy person too. Not everyone is outgoing. The key thing is to demonstrate what you're done to overcome this. As the sage LizzyM often points out, Adcoms like resilience and measures taken to overcome adversities.


@Goro What if one of your biggest weaknesses growing up was being shy? I have worked on this weakness throughout college and it is barely noticeable anymore, although there might be a moment or two where it shows. I know that the last thing an ADCOM wants to accept is a shy doctor, but this would be me being honest with myself. Any thoughts?
 

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I was VERY shy, "full" introvert on the personality scales, whole nine yards. Working in EMS and becoming a TA at a large school have really brought me out of my shell. I plan to use that as my answer. I am much more confident in my ability to make decisions, speak up when it is needed and feel MUCH more comfortable talking in front of an audience. There was a point in which I would get nauseated prior to small in-class presentations!

Probably my most valuable experiences as a pre-med.
 

danib2k15

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Truthfully, my biggest weakness is that I stress out when things do not go according to plan. I have always been somewhat anxious (and truthfully neurotic although of course I wouldn't state this). I know this isn't a very positive weakness but it is the truth. Would it be ok if I talk about this and how several experiences like my father's illness and passing have forced me to confront this problem and helped me develop coping mechanisms to handle stressful situations. Ex: I had planned to participate in research for my year off- unfortunately this process has not gone smoothly. it has taken 2+ months to get approved to work and my PI may leave the institution due to funding difficulties. Because I have been working on this I have been able to maintain a positive attitude, not succumb to moping/negativity/stress and instead work towards finding solutions/alternatives to problems (finding other opportunities to fill my time while I wait - volunteering, shadowing, etc.)
 
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Not knowing how to let go of activities that I've started :(. It's such an awfully hard task for me because as an introvert/shy person from the start it's so hard to stand up for your happiness. Also, I don't want to let down the people that count on me, afterall, I really appreciate people giving me a chance to prove myself. Solution? I use my time efficiently to the best of my knowledge now. I get chills if I just sit around all day or that someone gives me things to do without explaining the significance. I also ask questions intelligently without pissing off the person answering them (atleast I hope I do). I write down most of what mentors say and try making most of the activities by not only developing new knowledge but also independent skills that demonstrate reliability. Overall, I focus now on setting deadlines and meeting them. If things take too long to progress, I don't just ignore them but rather discuss them with the PI or if that isn't possible, I add on other activities to supplement my unproductiveness.
 
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I honestly have no weaknesses that can be said during a medical school interview. That being said can somebody post a weakness that is acceptable to state during the greatest weakness secondary question/interview question so I can work on building that weakness over the next year so I can state it with honesty and integrity during the interview
 
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maybedeadcat

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This is not so much a question about your weaknesses as it is about your self-awareness, your ability to be self-critical, and your willingness to do something about it. You seem to have everything going for you in the response you've been thinking about for this question.
Wow, the LizzyM seal of approval! Thanks :)
 
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gonnif

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I honestly have no weaknesses that can be said during a medical school interview. That being said can somebody post a weakness that is acceptable to state during the greatest weakness secondary question/interview question so I can work on building that weakness over the next year so I can state it with honesty and integrity during the interview
That's ridiculous. Everybody has weakness, issues, concern of acceptable social, academic, or professional nature that can be discussed. Not having the ability to be self-evaluating and self-critical is really a weakness that should ban people from medical school. It falls under the same category as super confident/arrogant applicants who imply perfection when answering these kinds of questions and they become the kind of medical students and residents that dont admit to their errors. These are the ones I go out of my way to ensure they are denied acceptance
 

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That's ridiculous. Everybody has weakness, issues, concern of acceptable social, academic, or professional nature that can be discussed. Not having the ability to be self-evaluating and self-critical is really a weakness that should ban people from medical school. It falls under the same category as super confident/arrogant applicants who imply perfection when answering these kinds of questions and they become the kind of medical students and residents that dont admit to their errors. These are the ones I go out of my way to ensure they are denied acceptance
My greatest weakness is a lack of weaknesses.

:p
 

gonnif

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My greatest weakness is a lack of weaknesses.

:p
Oh, you thought you made a mistake once but it turned out you were wrong.

Its hard to accept applicants like that as they need two seats: one for themselves and one for their egos
 
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Goro

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Hubris, ego, arrogance, and an inability to introspect????



I honestly have no weaknesses that can be said during a medical school interview. That being said can somebody post a weakness that is acceptable to state during the greatest weakness secondary question/interview question so I can work on building that weakness over the next year so I can state it with honesty and integrity during the interview
 

Goro

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Humor doesn't travel well over the electrons, alas.

You guys do realize that these posters are joking about not having weaknesses, right?
 

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"You know, sometimes I just get this urge to plagiarize; but I've managed to limit myself to small things, like term papers, which I'm very proud of."
 
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Chelsea FC

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Mine is that a am authoritarian in my style , want to tie this to my lawlessness childhood and in my efforts to change I have overdone it. Plan to use my current work with Habitat for humanity this year to learn to work in a group and be flexible, especially when you are a cog in a greater machine like an individual is in this volunteer project ..
 
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Mad Jack

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I honestly have no weaknesses that can be said during a medical school interview. That being said can somebody post a weakness that is acceptable to state during the greatest weakness secondary question/interview question so I can work on building that weakness over the next year so I can state it with honesty and integrity during the interview
Just tell them that it's incredibly hard to be so damn flawless because everyone, in comparison, is such a disappointment.
 
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gonnif

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Oh, you thought you made a mistake once but it turned out you were wrong.

Its hard to accept applicants like that as the need two seats: one for themselves and one for their egos
Hubris, ego, arrogance, and an inability to introspect????
You guys do realize that these posters are joking about not having weaknesses, right?
Humor doesn't travel well over the electrons, alas.
I have two very large peeves with applicants in ECs, PS, Secondaries and especially interviews that brings out the obnoxious New Yorker in me.

First is arrogance, ego, etc. I read it all the time in essays and it immediately clouds how I view the rest of this applicant. Being confident about what you have done is different then an arrogant bastard about it.

Second is lack of sincerity. If I dont see/feel passion, desire, energy, in your essays, I want to get out a red pen and an ink stamp for "REJECTED"

I have seen brilliant over achievers who make Sheldon from Big Bang look modest. But I have seen these brilliant applicants talk about their OCD ways of studying as a weakness because it keeps them from other things in life. Understanding weakness in yourself and realizing they exist in, IMHO, essential for dealing with patients who see physicians as some of the most vulnerable, weakness moments in their lives.

This has been an SDN vent; we now return you to your regularly scheduled thread
 

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If I could answer, "I suck at memorizing things." and still get multiple acceptances, I'm pretty much anything will work if backed up appropriately.
Is this a bad answer? That's what I would answer as well.
 

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Sometimes I can be rather abrasive, which gets in the way of progress and too often I look at the world with rose tinted glasses. It takes my SO to keep me grounded sometimes. :p
 
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Mad Jack

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If I remember correctly, my biggest weakness was my tendency to focus on school above all else, which is something I genuinely needed to focus on, as I worried my interpersonal relationships and health would suffer, and that I planned to handle it by doing my best to set aside time for my friends and loved ones, and by trying to make time to work out and eat right.

It's still my biggest weakness, but I've at least managed to maintain my friendships and relationship. My health though... That's gone straight down the toilet. I'm in the worst shape of my life.
 

mimelim

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Is this a bad answer? That's what I would answer as well.
The only person that reacted negatively to it was an MS4 at Hopkins. No faculty even batted an eyelash. I talked about how I didn't like and wasn't particularly good at rote memorization and developed different ways of learning material.
 
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xerei

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As a last resort:
Take one of your strengths

Take it to an extreme

Ta da, it's now a weakness.

"I love being active in many aspects of life, but sometimes I may become too invested in too many things, and some activities or my personal life may suffer"

"I am good at empathizing with others, but I have had experiences where my subjectivity may have clouded my judgment"

Not the best examples, but I think useful if you've run out of ideas. Also, make sure you give examples of how you've worked on them.
 

The_Bird

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If I remember correctly, my biggest weakness was my tendency to focus on school above all else, which is something I genuinely needed to focus on, as I worried my interpersonal relationships and health would suffer, and that I planned to handle it by doing my best to set aside time for my friends and loved ones, and by trying to make time to work out and eat right.

It's still my biggest weakness, but I've at least managed to maintain my friendships and relationship. My health though... That's gone straight down the toilet. I'm in the worst shape of my life.
What have you done in the past to stay in shape? Is it mostly a time issue?

The reason I'm taking up running is so I can get cardio in for like 1.5 hours a week during med school.
 

Mad Jack

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What have you done in the past to stay in shape? Is it mostly a time issue?

The reason I'm taking up running is so I can get cardio in for like 1.5 hours a week during med school.
I used to lift 5 hours a week.

It's both a time and an exhaustion issue. When you lift, you need to eat more food. But eating more food takes more cooking. So either you lose more time to cooking, don't make enough food, or you eat bad food. If you don't eat right, you're tired as hell. If you do eat right, you've got less time, and you're still kind of tired. I'm going to try (after neuroanatomy) to start eating right and lifting again, but that transition period is the worst- you're so achy that you can hardly walk, you're tired as ****, etc, and that's been a barrier to me getting back into a rhythm. Last year though, I simply didn't have the time- I'm not as good at memorization as a lot of the other students, so I'm studying like, constantly, and what little time I have left (which is a decent chunk of time, actually) I chose to spend with my friends and girlfriend, rather than on staying healthy and in decent shape.

This year, I think I can prioritize better, as we don't have block exams and the way you take in information is much more flexible, or so it initially seems.
 
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What about weaknesses that might prove to be a stumbling block in medical school? I.e., the first thing that comes to mind for me is that I am not a detail oriented person, which has repeatedly proven to be a big stumbling block to me in my research. I have taken a number of steps to work on this (writing up detailed protocols/checklists, etc.), but in all honesty it's something that I still struggle with, and am still frustrated by. Most of my coworkers are naturally detail oriented, and can't give me good advice because they have a hard time comprehending why I struggle with this problem.

(On a related note, if there is anybody else who has worked through this problem, I wouldn't mind some advice!)
 

danib2k15

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Truthfully, my biggest weakness is that I stress out when things do not go according to plan. I have always been somewhat anxious (and truthfully neurotic although of course I wouldn't state this). I know this isn't a very positive weakness but it is the truth. Would it be ok if I talk about this and how several experiences like my father's illness and passing have forced me to confront this problem and helped me develop coping mechanisms to handle stressful situations. Ex: I had planned to participate in research for my year off- unfortunately this process has not gone smoothly. it has taken 2+ months to get approved to work and my PI may leave the institution due to funding difficulties. Because I have been working on this I have been able to maintain a positive attitude, not succumb to moping/negativity/stress and instead work towards finding solutions/alternatives to problems (finding other opportunities to fill my time while I wait - volunteering, shadowing, etc.)
Sorry, bumping myself to see if anyone has any input!

What about weaknesses that might prove to be a stumbling block in medical school? I.e., the first thing that comes to mind for me is that I am not a detail oriented person, which has repeatedly proven to be a big stumbling block to me in my research. I have taken a number of steps to work on this (writing up detailed protocols/checklists, etc.), but in all honesty it's something that I still struggle with, and am still frustrated by. Most of my coworkers are naturally detail oriented, and can't give me good advice because they have a hard time comprehending why I struggle with this problem.

(On a related note, if there is anybody else who has worked through this problem, I wouldn't mind some advice!)
I kind of think part of being detail oriented is being slightly neurotic (And boy is that easy in research when you could mess up an experiment at the drop of a pin). I also think it helps to just slow things down and truly focus on each and every step you're performing instead of thinking 5 steps down the road. Certainly not everyone is super detail oriented but I bet if you keep doing what you're doing it will start to come more naturally!
 

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I have two very large peeves with applicants in ECs, PS, Secondaries and especially interviews that brings out the obnoxious New Yorker in me.

First is arrogance, ego, etc. I read it all the time in essays and it immediately clouds how I view the rest of this applicant. Being confident about what you have done is different then an arrogant bastard about it.

Second is lack of sincerity. If I dont see/feel passion, desire, energy, in your essays, I want to get out a red pen and an ink stamp for "REJECTED"

I have seen brilliant over achievers who make Sheldon from Big Bang look modest. But I have seen these brilliant applicants talk about their OCD ways of studying as a weakness because it keeps them from other things in life. Understanding weakness in yourself and realizing they exist in, IMHO, essential for dealing with patients who see physicians as some of the most vulnerable, weakness moments in their lives.

This has been an SDN vent; we now return you to your regularly scheduled thread
So you're saying that OCD ways of studying is an acceptable weakness to state during interviews?

I wasn't being sarcastic in my initial response, I really have no weaknesses I am aware of that could be stated during a medical school interview. When I'm asked for my greatest strength I usually go with my outstanding ability for introspection though.

I actually went with mimelim's I have trouble memorizing things during two BA/MD interviews but the interviewers didn't take to it too well. Or maybe it was my delivery, I didn't say "Hmm (falter in mock surprise), maybe memorizing things" but instead I just blurted out "memorizing things" as if I was excited to answer the question I was prepared for
 

gonnif

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So you're saying that OCD ways of studying is an acceptable weakness to state during interviews?
*muttering, stuttering, breathing then a SCREAM!

No what I am saying is:

1) I can't imagine ANY student not have multiple weakness, flaws, challenges, etc that can easily be discussed in mixed company
2) I can't imagine a student evaluating a weakness based on what they think the adcom wants to hear.
3) I can't imagine not having the integrity to discuss a weakness that you actually face.
4) Most importantly, I can't imagine anyone who does not, apparently, have sufficient introspection really being a physician.

In short, lack of introspection is the opposite side of same coin of arrogance and ego, which are nearly absolute "reject" grounds in my book no matter what else a candidate may have to offer.

I'll try not to hold back in my future posts and let everyone know how I really feel.

We now return to our previously scheduled thread
 
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maybedeadcat

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I wasn't being sarcastic in my initial response, I really have no weaknesses I am aware of that could be stated during a medical school interview. When I'm asked for my greatest strength I usually go with my outstanding ability for introspection though.
Since you've decided to take over my thread, I don't feel bad stepping in here.

Honey. You are not Beyoncé. As much as you might like to think you are perfect, I can guarantee that you are not. The fact that you cannot come up with a flaw is a flaw in and of itself.

And you said your greatest strength is "introspection"? HA. HA HAHAHA

PS: Egomaniacs don't make good doctors.
 

danib2k15

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When people on here struggle with flaws it's usually for one of two reasons - 1. You are worried that your flaw may be inappropriate to share on interview day 2. You have not seriously thought about it.

If you do not have the capacity to recognize flaws in yourself you cannot possibly be a levelheaded thoughtful physicians who approaches things with an open mind and works well with others (respects others opinions, takes criticism, etc.)
 

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I used to lift 5 hours a week.

It's both a time and an exhaustion issue. When you lift, you need to eat more food. But eating more food takes more cooking. So either you lose more time to cooking, don't make enough food, or you eat bad food. If you don't eat right, you're tired as hell. If you do eat right, you've got less time, and you're still kind of tired. I'm going to try (after neuroanatomy) to start eating right and lifting again, but that transition period is the worst- you're so achy that you can hardly walk, you're tired as ****, etc, and that's been a barrier to me getting back into a rhythm. Last year though, I simply didn't have the time- I'm not as good at memorization as a lot of the other students, so I'm studying like, constantly, and what little time I have left (which is a decent chunk of time, actually) I chose to spend with my friends and girlfriend, rather than on staying healthy and in decent shape.

This year, I think I can prioritize better, as we don't have block exams and the way you take in information is much more flexible, or so it initially seems.
I hope you get back into the swing of things! Does your girlfriend try to stay fit? My GF runs and is a trainer, so I have some external motivation to help me along, plus I can spend time with her while I work out. Maybe try and workout together?