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Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by shoeclothes, Nov 13, 2002.
When an interviewer asks what are your weaknesses, how should I respond?
but obviously don't say anything moronic like "I panic in emergency situations, cry frequently, and should not be trusted." (Not that I do these things....)
Everyone knows what they need to work on, I'm going with something like, "I'm generally introverted which can be a problem in some situations, but is sometimes beneficial also." Then explain how it's good and bad. They want to hear honest answers, no one is perfect, it's better if you know where you are in need of work though than to be ignorant of it. Just show you realize your faults.
3. Minor technical skill
Any of the above. Describe how it is a real weakness, ie. how it harms you, and how do you plan to fix it.
don't use those BS answers. you'll have them rolling their eyes before you even finish the first word. be honest for goodness sake.
or "I care too much about other people, I forget about myself"
Well, I think that question is a veritable pandora's box for someone who does not know you.
I dont think med admissions should really ask that question, because what will happen is that most people will give some lame answer (I care too much about grades, etc). And then occassionally some otherwise awesome candidate might bust out a "i am at times a sexist/racist/homophobe" or a "i cheated on something, didnt get caught" or "my real name is slobodan milosevic" type answer.
And most people DO have lame weaknesses. It is as if its worse to not have made a HUGE mistake, but have made several smaller mistakes instead (I am the latter)
For my first few interviews I gave lame weaknesses... i.e. I care too much about grades, blah blah blah...
Then finally come interview #7 (or whatever) I got so tired of all the BS I just let loose and said "Well... I'm loud, opinionated, stubborn, blunt, and tend to get very frustrated with people who don't act on reason... " My interviewer just laughed and said "well... that's not so bad."
I guess we'll see when the letter comes in teh mail
I had 'em rolling in the aisles with "I have poor organizational skills." However, I followed up with a detailed explanation of how I have worked over the years to overcome my handicap using technology and willpower. I am now an MS1. Apparently, they bought it.
Captain what medical school are you going to?
i will say my greatest strength is also my greatest weakness: my optimism. it helps as motivation when the going gets rough, but sometimes it moves me away from reality.
this won't work against me, right?
I think they might see thru a "weakness" like optimism or workaholic that is really a plus in disguise. And be much more appreciative of a fairly serious weakness that you are aware of and try to mitigate-- because that would show a refreshing self-awareness and maturity. For example -I have difficulty listening to people w/o becoming bored & impatient--so am taking efforts to improve this...
No, as long as it's a real weakness and your response in minimizing the weakness shows a sense of personal development. A "lame" answer suggests that it is not really a negative characteristic. They might be BS for some people, perhaps because they lack the quality or couldn't think of a great way to make a solid argument, but being BS or not depends on your reasoning and honesty.
Dr. Grkovich, I am at USUHS.
I thought that I would share an experience I had with being honest about my weaknesses. When I first applied in 1994, I had to interview with someone on the pre-med committee so that he could write me a composite committee letter based on the interview and my other letters of recommendation. I did not know the interviewer that well, but I did have him as a professor for two semesters of organic chemistry. I got As both semesters but I never really spoke to the professor. Anyway, at the interview he asks me what my greatest weakness was. I felt that giving the standard "I'm a perfectionist" "I'm a workaholic" "I sometimes take on too much work" etc. was total b.s. So I decided to be honest rather than give some b.s. answer and I said my biggest weakness was that I am a slow reader. I still feel that I read very slowly, and at the time I felt that it was the reason that I didn't score as well as I wanted on the MCAT (I could not finish any of the sections in 1994). Anyway, later when I was interviewing at medical schools, one of my interviewers said, "well, professor X says in your committee letter that you're a slow reader, how do you expect to cope with all the material you'll have to read in medical school and do well on the boards?" I was stunned that the committee letter writer included my weakness in the letter. I always assumed that the committee always serves as your advocate (another lesson from this experience, don't assume that the committee is always acting in your best interest even if you don't know them that well -- get to know the members of the committee if possible). As many of you know, I did not get in to any medical schools that year. I have suspicions that the committee letter was weak in several areas. I don't really know why the professor who wrote it would write a weak letter, but I think because he didn't know me he was basing a lot on my interview (I know my other letters were strong because the writers sent me curtesy copies). And I think at the time I was not very good at interviews for several reasons. But one problem might be that I was unwilling to "play the game" and give the same b.s. answers to questions like "what is your biggest weakness." I personally admire someone who gives an honest answer to that question, but if you do give an honest answer I wonder if some interviewers get the impression that you don't care that much. They might think, "if this guy is not willing to play the game, he must not care that much about getting in." So now I always give more of a b.s. answer. I usually say something like, "I used to have problems staying organized, but then when I worked as a prosecutor and was carrying 170 cases at a time and I had to be ready to go trial on any one of them, I had to cure this problem, and now my organizational skills are quite a bit stronger." It doesn't really answer the question. I tell them what used to be a weakness, but isn't a weakness now. I've never had someone follow up with "hey you didn't answer my question." They usually move on. The bottom line: it's a b.s. question deserving of a b.s. answer.
THis is a really hard ? because you want to sound truthful but you also want a "good" weakness. My good weakness is my selflessness. Now it may sound like bull but I am too easily giving and helpful to people that it affects my life, i.e. impedes my studying sometimes, etc. My family and friends always tend to come to me for help and I ALWAYS help. You don't on the other hand, want to say, "I go out a lot and get drunk!!"
Another weakness is getting involved in too many activities, i.e. EC's. A friend of mine said this on a Cornell interview and she got in.
Hope this helps....definitely be yourself!!!
I'm sorry but if I were an interviewer and some student gave me this answer I'd roll my eyes and quickly try to wrap up the interviewer and get on with my day... or I'd say something antogonistic like "hmm... perhaps another weakness is your inability to come up with a real answer to this question."
Even if it is true... there's no way you could word this such that it wouldn't sound like total BS.
Not that I've never given BS answers to questions
i hadn't planned on using this, but i think it really is my greatest weakness. do you think it's really bad to say that your greatest weakness is being shy? it sounds sorta bad in a profession that deals with people all the time! i don't think it will be a problem when i'm a physician, b/c it's not like i'm at a loss for words if there is a task at hand or something specific to talk about. i'm just sometimes pretty bad at small talk b/c i hate being fake, which i guess is another weakness since society expects you to be fake and smile all sweetly if you're a girl. it's like torture for me to have to kiss someone's ass or pretend i like something when i don't. i'd rather not speak at all than be fake... geesh, that sounds like a bad one too. i may have to go with the not being organized answer.
i think it's best to answer those questions shortly and truthfully.
don't go into explaining the whole issue of society wanting you to act like this and that.
Just say, "Well, sometimes I feel I'm a bit shy, and I guess there are social situations in which I was a bit more outgoing."
Simple! it doesn't hurt, and it's truthful. And it doesn't sound like B.S.
I said something to the effect of : I'm sometimes irresponsible- I misplace things all the time. I'm careless with my money- I have no idea why I buy certain things. And when I'm pressed, I tend to be selfish with my time."
If they ask you how you overcome those weaknesses- then be prepared to answer. But don't make it a BS answer. I know if Iwas a student interviewer(not that I'd have this kind of power), I'd seriously reject some of you folks who give that "I work too hard" or "I'm too selfless?!?!" They're not looking for the 'right' answer, they're looking for truthful candidness and a GENUINE person.
well that's just my humble opinion.
how about "i don't like confrontation"?
Greatest weakness?...well, if it's Harvard I guess I could just quote my mine-sweeper score...
Captain? That is in Maryland right? I am actually thinking about applying when I finish pre med. I am also going to apply to regular Medical Commisioning program. I got out of the Air Force last year and joining the reserves this weekend(weekend warrior) so hopefully I might have an upper hand on civilian applicants. How do you like it? Are you receiving 2nd lieutenant pay?
Everybody's got weaknesses. How have you dealt with them? How are your problem solving skills, your dedication to improvement?
I'm not naturally a very (organized, patient, mathematically inclined, prompt, socially outgoing...) person. Things that I've found helpful in dealing with that have been when I've worked hard to (develop systems, slow down and focus, compensate with additional time and energy in my math classes, carry a watch and keep an appointment book, go out of my way to interact with strangers and place myself in group situations....).
Think of it as an opportunity to tout your successes in recognizing and addressing an area which needs improvement.