makeshift123

10+ Year Member
Aug 14, 2008
215
1
Status
Pre-Medical
So the age-old question of "what's your biggest weakness?" is bound to come up in an interview, so I thought i should prepare my answer. obviously i'm not gonna memorize what i'm gonna say (or this next paragraph) but is this a good weakness to point out or is "too weak/cliche?":

I think my biggest weakness is/was being timid and having a fear of speaking in front of people. A lot of people notice my shyness and quietness, including my english professor freshman year who commented on one of my papers: "you have excellent insight, but i wish you would articulate your ideas in class discussions." i think i've overcome this weakness by becoming a TA for an organic chem class. I had to stand up in front of a class of 60 people for an hour and a half every week and lecture in organic chem. I also have clinical research experience, where I had to talk to patients face-to-face to determine if they were eligible for any clinical trials. so even though i still consider myself shy, I learned to become more comfortable speaking in front of a group of people and improved my interpersonal skills through these two experiences.


whattya think?
 

copperfrog09

10+ Year Member
Apr 7, 2008
725
0
Status
Medical Student
They will most certainly not ask you for your weakness.
what?? I got asked this several times. I was led to believe it was a pretty typical question? To the OP, yes, that is a great one. The most important thing to do is mention how you have dealt with/ improved it, which you have a GREAT answer to :)
 
About the Ads

p30doc

Ever true and unwavering
10+ Year Member
Aug 22, 2007
2,372
52
Status
Attending Physician
I've been asked in 1 out 8. Like many things whether the question comes up is probably school/interviewer dependent.
 

cbrons

Ratatoskr! *Roar*
10+ Year Member
Jul 29, 2007
6,580
3,665
DEFEND MIDDLE LANE!
Status
Non-Student
So the age-old question of "what's your biggest weakness?" is bound to come up in an interview, so I thought i should prepare my answer. obviously i'm not gonna memorize what i'm gonna say (or this next paragraph) but is this a good weakness to point out or is "too weak/cliche?":

I think my biggest weakness is/was being timid and having a fear of speaking in front of people. A lot of people notice my shyness and quietness, including my english professor freshman year who commented on one of my papers: "you have excellent insight, but i wish you would articulate your ideas in class discussions." i think i've overcome this weakness by becoming a TA for an organic chem class. I had to stand up in front of a class of 60 people for an hour and a half every week and lecture in organic chem. I also have clinical research experience, where I had to talk to patients face-to-face to determine if they were eligible for any clinical trials. so even though i still consider myself shy, I learned to become more comfortable speaking in front of a group of people and improved my interpersonal skills through these two experiences.


whattya think?
:sleep:
I think that's a boring response, no offense. Come up with something better that has nothing to do with school. Tell them your biggest weakness is fat chicks for all I care just don't use this 1.
 

BlackDr2b

JESUS DID IT, NOT ME!!!
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Aug 24, 2006
2,616
4
Chocolate City!
Status
Medical Student
I haven't been asked this question at all but that doesn't mean it won't come up. I think as long as you are honest with them and really look inside yourself to find a real weakness, then it's good. But make sure you have an explanation on how you can use that weakness in your favor or how you have grown from it.
 

makeshift123

10+ Year Member
Aug 14, 2008
215
1
Status
Pre-Medical
i know its a boring/trite response, but it is really the only one i can think of that i can be completely honest about (i'm not saying that i dont have other weaknesses). I've always been the shy guy in class, who never raised his hand even though he had an answer because he was too nervous. i'm quiet around strangers and sometimes even my friends (unless i'm a little intoxicated lol). But being thrown into those situations where i HAD to talk and display confidence really changed my social skills b/c now i can strike up conversation with strangers, i'm not self-conscious, etc, which i think is pretty important in the medical field (social skills, that is)
 

copingmethods

10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Dec 10, 2006
807
0
Status
Medical Student
I think my biggest weakness is/was being timid and having a fear of speaking in front of people. A lot of people notice my shyness and quietness, including my english professor freshman year who commented on one of my papers: "you have excellent insight, but i wish you would articulate your ideas in class discussions." i think i've overcome this weakness by becoming a TA for an organic chem class. I had to stand up in front of a class of 60 people for an hour and a half every week and lecture in organic chem. I also have clinical research experience, where I had to talk to patients face-to-face to determine if they were eligible for any clinical trials. so even though i still consider myself shy, I learned to become more comfortable speaking in front of a group of people and improved my interpersonal skills through these two experiences.


whattya think?
I think that's a great one, especially since public speaking was the weakness I've mentioned when asked that question! I think you have exactly the right idea - what I've done was first told them what the weakness was, then explained what I've done throughout college to try to improve my public speaking skills (presentations, etc.), and how I will continue to try to improve it in med school. They have always seemed to appreciate both the honest response as well as hearing my thoughts about how to improve on this.
 

jinx520

10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Aug 26, 2008
5,864
10
State of Hotness
Status
Non-Student
OP, I think your "weakness" and its remediation is excellent, BUT...

only as long as you are talking about a real weakness and the steps you took to correct it. It's good of you to be thinking ahead and trying to come up with well-thought out answers (which you should be doing), but only if this is really true for you.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, instead of trying to come up w/ an answer to the weakness question and worrying about, "is it too lame? Too cliche?" or whatever, just talk about what is true FOR YOU. No matter what the question or the situation you are talking about, you will come across as a sincere person who has a lot of insight about himself/herself, and also is willing to take steps to correct deficiencies.

BTW, I think that becoming a TA to overcome your discomfort of public speaking is very brave. Many people hate public speaking, but not too many people will do anything about it.
 

cbrons

Ratatoskr! *Roar*
10+ Year Member
Jul 29, 2007
6,580
3,665
DEFEND MIDDLE LANE!
Status
Non-Student
i know its a boring/trite response, but it is really the only one i can think of that i can be completely honest about (i'm not saying that i dont have other weaknesses). I've always been the shy guy in class, who never raised his hand even though he had an answer because he was too nervous. i'm quiet around strangers and sometimes even my friends (unless i'm a little intoxicated lol). But being thrown into those situations where i HAD to talk and display confidence really changed my social skills b/c now i can strike up conversation with strangers, i'm not self-conscious, etc, which i think is pretty important in the medical field (social skills, that is)
now were talking. Now come up with something non-school related. Actually just call them out. Be like, "Hah, another one of those stress questions, eh? Well, I will just answer by saying that I am aware of my shortcomings and I'm working on improving them everyday."
 

Pinkertinkle

2003 Member
10+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
Oct 16, 2003
5,004
81
Status
Attending Physician
Just tell them your greatest weakness is when asked about a weakness during an interview you dont have a good answer.
 
About the Ads

202781

Guest
10+ Year Member
May 6, 2008
778
0
Status
Pre-Medical
So the age-old question of "what's your biggest weakness?" is bound to come up in an interview, so I thought i should prepare my answer. obviously i'm not gonna memorize what i'm gonna say (or this next paragraph) but is this a good weakness to point out or is "too weak/cliche?":

I think my biggest weakness is/was being timid and having a fear of speaking in front of people. A lot of people notice my shyness and quietness, including my english professor freshman year who commented on one of my papers: "you have excellent insight, but i wish you would articulate your ideas in class discussions." i think i've overcome this weakness by becoming a TA for an organic chem class. I had to stand up in front of a class of 60 people for an hour and a half every week and lecture in organic chem. I also have clinical research experience, where I had to talk to patients face-to-face to determine if they were eligible for any clinical trials. so even though i still consider myself shy, I learned to become more comfortable speaking in front of a group of people and improved my interpersonal skills through these two experiences.


whattya think?
I was asked this at I think 2 of my 5 interviews. I responded to the answer honestly and gave my actual biggest weakness. I think they were happy to have at least one person not answer with a total cliche.

BTW I was accepted at the schools.
 

cavalier329

Guest
10+ Year Member
May 31, 2008
233
2
Status
Pre-Medical
my biggest weakness was that i had no organization when it came to taking notes and studying.

realized how big of a weakness it was after my 3.0 first year which at that point, I worked through it. Now I tutor kids on how to be organized and study. Ironic? Probably.
 

copingmethods

10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Dec 10, 2006
807
0
Status
Medical Student
now were talking. Now come up with something non-school related. Actually just call them out. Be like, "Hah, another one of those stress questions, eh? Well, I will just answer by saying that I am aware of my shortcomings and I'm working on improving them everyday."
It's not a stress question whatsoever, they're just looking for some self-reflection.
 

dhbighit

10+ Year Member
Sep 11, 2007
108
0
Status
Medical Student
Makeshift, I think that your original response is great. Calling them out.... not a good idea. You don't have to have some heroic answer for every question, just be honest.

And yes, focus on how you have overcome this, which you did, most importantly.
 

cavalier329

Guest
10+ Year Member
May 31, 2008
233
2
Status
Pre-Medical
i agree...if its true then go for it.

I think its fine. My BS meter hasnt gone off and its pretty reliable.

Good luck!
 
Last edited:

Narmerguy

Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Jul 14, 2007
6,878
1,306
Much better than those "My greatest weakness is that I'm so strong" BS answers.
 

NTF

Moderator Emeritus
10+ Year Member
Jul 1, 2008
1,849
77
Status
Attending Physician
I was asked the question at 2 out of 7 interviews.

I think they're more interested in seeing how self-reflective you are and seeing if you can articulate it thoughtfully and sincerely.

Don't come up with a canned response and do express how you've been actively trying to improve that part of yourself.

Your answer sounds fine.
 

Retsage

10+ Year Member
Aug 7, 2008
808
3
Status
You didn't describe your biggest weakness. You described your biggest weakness in the past. It's no longer a weakness for you.
 
1

154465

So the age-old question of "what's your biggest weakness?" is bound to come up in an interview, so I thought i should prepare my answer. obviously i'm not gonna memorize what i'm gonna say (or this next paragraph) but is this a good weakness to point out or is "too weak/cliche?":

I think my biggest weakness is/was being timid and having a fear of speaking in front of people. A lot of people notice my shyness and quietness, including my english professor freshman year who commented on one of my papers: "you have excellent insight, but i wish you would articulate your ideas in class discussions." i think i've overcome this weakness by becoming a TA for an organic chem class. I had to stand up in front of a class of 60 people for an hour and a half every week and lecture in organic chem. I also have clinical research experience, where I had to talk to patients face-to-face to determine if they were eligible for any clinical trials. so even though i still consider myself shy, I learned to become more comfortable speaking in front of a group of people and improved my interpersonal skills through these two experiences.


whattya think?


No.

The answer is always "erectile dysfunction".

If you don't have the numbers, you still have the sympathy vote.
 
About the Ads

cyclin M

megaman
10+ Year Member
Nov 24, 2008
337
1
Bunker
Status
Pre-Medical
You didn't describe your biggest weakness. You described your biggest weakness in the past. It's no longer a weakness for you.
So do you suggest people say:

"gee my biggest weakness is that I'm a procrastinator and I have terrible social skills, oh and by the way these are, rest assured, my current weaknesses that I've done nothing to improve on in any way, shape or form."

:rolleyes:

:thumbdown:

OP, your blurb is fine. Just go with it.
 

Zona Pellucida

10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Nov 17, 2008
2,446
3
Status
Medical Student
Is it also a weakness to be too much the other way?

I'm a loud mouth Italian that is always joking with my professors and it usually results in a good relationship with my professors and I, as I am not a shy person at ALL.

How could I spin that into a weakness?

I'm applying this summer just trying to think ahead.
 

jinx520

10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Aug 26, 2008
5,864
10
State of Hotness
Status
Non-Student
Other good weaknesses:

(1) Loss of bowel control when under stress

(2) Chronic vaginitis

(3) Excessive ear hair not amenable to clipping

(4) Very poor fashion sense

(5) Unable to pronounce the word "aluminum"

(6) Cataplexy

(7) Sympathetic pregnancy symptoms whenever around laboring women

(8) Stuttering, but only when speaking German

(9) Farts smell like Salisbury Steak

(10) Lactose intolerance makes it difficult to attend "Ice Cream Socials"

What's wrong with how I pronounce aluminium? :confused:
 

rabidpanda13

10+ Year Member
Nov 24, 2008
165
0
the dirty south
Status
Pre-Medical
would it be horrible to say that your weakness is that you have a very "addictive" personality...as in my bad grades were caused by a drug addiction which i have since kicked. it's honest but would they look poorly on that?
 

TooMuchResearch

i'm goin' to Kathmandu...
Lifetime Donor
10+ Year Member
Oct 21, 2008
5,857
1,993
Townsville, USA
Status
Attending Physician
would it be horrible to say that your weakness is that you have a very "addictive" personality...as in my bad grades were caused by a drug addiction which i have since kicked. it's honest but would they look poorly on that?
Yes, that is a horrible response. Don't bring up any past or current drug problems.
 

Forthegood

ProcrastinationAficionado
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Sep 6, 2008
844
7
Lexington, KY
Status
Medical Student
UGH....Asking someone their biggest weakness at an interview is a stupid question. Perhaps try a deflection into something you work on. Perhaps you say your handwriting has been a big issue in the past, and your actually going to take a class on it this summer to try to write better/faster. Something like this catches people off guard, and its more of a personal touch that isn't negative about your character.
 

michigator04

10+ Year Member
Dec 9, 2006
256
2
Status
Resident [Any Field]
Yes, that is a horrible response. Don't bring up any past or current drug problems.

Yeah. I have to think this would be a major red flag. If you have a criminal record, then an explanation has likely already been asked for, and if you don't you should be thankful, and consider keeping it to yourself during an interview.

Keep in mind that if you really do have an addictive personality, med school/residency might not be the best place for you. The stress levels and easier access to certain drugs might be a problem.
 
Last edited:

michigator04

10+ Year Member
Dec 9, 2006
256
2
Status
Resident [Any Field]
The classic "greatest weakness" question shows up sometimes, but it is a waste of time IMO. I was asked this (off a script) during an interview, and after I gave some lame answer about procrastination/study habits and all that jazz, my interviewer laughed and said that he gets the same answer from about 90% of the interviewees (accepted, btw).

The only useful reason I can see a school asking this is as a trap. Some of them do ask it in a different format/wording to try to elicit more honest, off the cuff answers. It seems to me that its like a presidential debate, say something mildly intelligent, just don't give them a memorable gaffe.
 

Forthegood

ProcrastinationAficionado
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Sep 6, 2008
844
7
Lexington, KY
Status
Medical Student
My personal biggest weakness is icecream. I may not do ANYTHING for it, but I will consider just about anything...:laugh:
 

Kaustikos

Archerize It
10+ Year Member
Jan 18, 2008
12,197
4,165
Always Bespin
If you want to find out your biggest weaknesses, you need to ask people close to you - friends, relatives and enemies

My fiancee helped me figure out 2 of mine, the other 2 were more obvious. It's just that that sometimes it's difficult to see them.

The one you listed is okay, but I would ask someone close to you and see what they say.
 
About the Ads

njbmd

Guest
Moderator Emeritus
5+ Year Member
15+ Year Member
May 30, 2001
9,050
151
Gone Walkabout!
Visit site
Status
Attending Physician
Questions about "strengths" and "weaknesses" are common in professional interviews. In your short time on earth, you must have had someone, perhaps a parent, point out your weaknesses.

There is no good or bad weakness. Everyone is simply stronger or weaker in something. There must be something that you have struggled with over the course of your life. Figure out what it is and answer the question that you are asked as honestly as you can.

Of course, if your "weakness" is heroin or cocaine, you might have a itty, bitty problem getting into medical school.
 

shopaholic133

10+ Year Member
Dec 26, 2008
1
0
Status
Pre-Medical
so I don't want this to turn into a debate on ADHD and people's opinions on whether its a real diagnosis. BUT I was diagnosed when I was 9 and have since worked to overcome it with meds/behavioral therapy when I was younger. Do you think its a weakness that i could talk about if asked in an interview? I wasn't asked the weakness question in my first one so I didn't bring it up. I'm still being treated for it with meds, idk if they'd look down on that. what do you all think?
 

CourageKid

Don't mind me
10+ Year Member
Sep 21, 2008
181
0
Status
Medical Student
Is it also a weakness to be too much the other way?

I'm a loud mouth Italian that is always joking with my professors and it usually results in a good relationship with my professors and I, as I am not a shy person at ALL.

How could I spin that into a weakness?

I'm applying this summer just trying to think ahead.
I said that one my weaknesses is learning how to delegate. I made sure to emphasize that I can still be a team player, but that when I'm in charge, it's hard for me to let things go sometimes.
Not totally related to your situation, but something you might be able to spin if you lack of shyness puts your in leadership positions.
 

Forthegood

ProcrastinationAficionado
10+ Year Member
5+ Year Member
Sep 6, 2008
844
7
Lexington, KY
Status
Medical Student
shopaholic... i'd tread lightly on that subject. In general, people don't want a sick doctor, just as you won't want a healthy patient.

Just don't overemphasize it, or better yet if you do mention it, talk about how you have overcome it. Sounds like a tear-jerker if played correctly.
 

miiki21

10+ Year Member
Apr 15, 2008
29
0
Status
Pre-Medical
Makeshift123 - My weakness is very much like yours, and when asked at interviews, I replied truthfully. Make sure, however, that you're truly "over" this weakness. If you're going to be nervous and shy during the interview, I definitely wouldn't recommend highlighting it with an explanation of our weakness. If, on the other hand, your interview goes well and you're confident throughout, then go for it. At one place, when I told my interviewer that I used to be very shy in high school and overcame it through blahblahblah, she was really surprised because she "definitely couldn't sense it through the interview". Got into those schools, btw. :)
 

DrSno

Membership Revoked
Removed
10+ Year Member
Jun 27, 2008
832
0
Status
I tried to prepare for this question before my interviews but I honestly could not think of one. I asked my parents, friends, and an adviser to help me and they couldn't come up with one either. Luckily I only got asked this question at one school and I struggled to BS something on the spot. I used the adviser's idea of being a perfectionist.
 

Kakoy

10+ Year Member
Aug 18, 2008
80
39
USA
Status
Attending Physician
ugh, I hate this question. I actually asked my friends and my parents. Most of my biggest weakness are not relevant to medical school.

On of my best friend's was that she used to be shy. Right now, she is not shy at all. So, if you think you will still act shy at the interview, I wouldn't mention it. It emphasize it too much.
 

suizyme09

I haz a flavor
10+ Year Member
Aug 20, 2008
147
3
Columbus
Status
Pre-Medical
shopaholic... i'd tread lightly on that subject. In general, people don't want a sick doctor, just as you won't want a healthy patient.

Just don't overemphasize it, or better yet if you do mention it, talk about how you have overcome it. Sounds like a tear-jerker if played correctly.
I would love to have a healthy patient...as long as I can still bill them!:thumbup:

I got asked this question in an interview. I had a prepared story about how I often try to jump into things without being fully prepared ( I get over eager about trying new things and I don't like having someone hold my hand and walk me through the process). I relayed that into my lab work and talked about how I found that if i didn't take the time to learn none of my experiments worked which helped me change my ways a bit. Yours seems fine. I felt like mine was a load of BS but oh well haha
 

Kaustikos

Archerize It
10+ Year Member
Jan 18, 2008
12,197
4,165
Always Bespin
Makeshift123 - My weakness is very much like yours, and when asked at interviews, I replied truthfully. Make sure, however, that you're truly "over" this weakness. If you're going to be nervous and shy during the interview, I definitely wouldn't recommend highlighting it with an explanation of our weakness. If, on the other hand, your interview goes well and you're confident throughout, then go for it. At one place, when I told my interviewer that I used to be very shy in high school and overcame it through blahblahblah, she was really surprised because she "definitely couldn't sense it through the interview". Got into those schools, btw. :)
Not always the case. Keep in mind, that some "weaknesses" are general character flaws that don't make you perfect.That's what they're trying to get at.

I tried to prepare for this question before my interviews but I honestly could not think of one. I asked my parents, friends, and an adviser to help me and they couldn't come up with one either. Luckily I only got asked this question at one school and I struggled to BS something on the spot. I used the adviser's idea of being a perfectionist.
Lucky it worked because that is one of the most cliched/worst weaknesses adcoms hear :smuggrin:
 

spospo

Going to extremes
10+ Year Member
7+ Year Member
Jun 13, 2006
763
0
35
The 'kane
Status
Medical Student
makeshift

i've always struggled w/ being shy. i hated every class in undergrad where participation was part of the course grade. when asked in my interviews, i was truthful about it. i didn't use elaborate explanations of how i am overcoming it, but i did say that it was something i struggle with almost every day (because it is) and that IT IS SOMETHING I WANT TO CHANGE. i also said that i'm okay one on one (as with the interview), but groups larger than maybe about 6 or 7 quiet me down. i think i used both the term "shy" and "not as outgoing as I'd like to be." unlike what miiki21 said, i don't think you need to be over your weakness in order to talk about it. the question is "what is your biggest weakness?" not "what used to be your biggest weakness?" most interviewers understand that weaknesses can be overcome for short periods of time. people with a fear of public speaking can overcome it to give a speech yet still have that fear as soon as the speech is over.

it's good to know what your answer will be, but as others have said, just make sure it doesn't sound rehearsed.
 

medhearter

10+ Year Member
Dec 22, 2008
564
1
Status
Medical Student
i think that you should bank on a question like this and do more than just show how you "overcame" this weakness, by also showing how this experience shed light on a new philosophy that you have taken on and a new level of maturity that you have come to dealing with this

i'm not sure what your answer would be to that
but as an adcom, i'd be really impressed if you expanded on your experience of overcoming this weakness in a more empowering fashion than just saying "you did it"
 

bruinhd

10+ Year Member
May 20, 2008
141
0
Status
Medical Student
They will most certainly not ask you for your weakness.
I was asked this. I said that my biggest weakness is that I'm awesome, and sometimes this conflicts with the ambitions of others who are less awesome.

Just kidding.

Be honest, is what I always say. Seriously, don't try to use some elaborate bull**** because they have detectors for it just like you.

The key when telling them your weakness is also finishing it by shedding positive light on it, and/or how you recognize it and put effort into fixing it. Let me give you an example:

"I would have to say my biggest weakness is that I never step into the leadership role in a group. It used to frustrate me a lot because sometimes I get discouraged that some who lack important leadership qualities find the need to trample over others to get that role for themselves, then fail to dispatch people for their best qualities like a true leader. I have recognized the fact that I fail in this respect, and in the past year or so have been pushing myself to jump into that role. What I have found is that I am a great leader when I actually compel myself to do it! Here's a great example, last march, yada yada yada...."

Does that sound right?
 
About the Ads