fbpx

The Nurse Becoming Podcast 

#087 How to Answer “What Are Your Weaknesses?” in an Interview

When an interviewer asks, “What are your weaknesses?”Are you prepared to answer? 

This question is tricky because it requires not only self awareness and humility to take an honest look at yourself, but it can also be a vulnerable place to be in when you are interviewing for a job that you really want. 

 

Today’s podcast episode will show you:

  • How to answer the dreaded interview question, “What are your weaknesses?”
  • Why interviewers ask about your weaknesses (This is what they’re really looking for!)
  • How to uncover what your weaknesses actually are.
  • A Script that you can use, straight from my Interview Prep 4-Step Method
  • Types of answers to avoid giving in an interview.
  • How to frame your weaknesses in a positive light, and more!

 

LINKS & RESOURCES MENTIONED TODAY: 

Listen to more episodes here!

 

Why do interviewers ask about your greatest weakness?

The truth is, the interviewers care less about your actual weakness than they do about your emotional intelligence and maturity. The hiring manager is trying to gauge how self aware you are, whether you can take action on things that need improvement, and whether you can even admit that you have areas that need improvement.
When you prepare your answer with this perspective in mind, discussing your weaknesses is not so intimidating.

 

Answer honestly. (Or it will backfire).

Before we get into how to prepare your answer, try your best to answer this question truthfully. I know it’s tempting to come up with the answer that they might want to hear. But leading with honesty and integrity will rarely steer you wrong.

 

Interview Prep 4-Step Method:
How To Talk About Your Weaknesses In An Interview


Step One: Reflect

Write down a list of your weaknesses. Take pen and paper, open up a Google Doc, or the Notes app on your phone – whatever is easiest – just sit down and get reflective about yourself.  This can be uncomfortable, so perhaps reward yourself at the end or do this while you’re listening to some nice music. 

While thinking about your weaknesses, these could be things that you’re not confident about, or feedback you’ve been given from supervisors before, or general things that you know you’re not the best at. 

Consider hard skills like EKG interpretation or IV placement, as well as soft skills, like being confident, trouble with saying “no:, personality conflict, and having patience. Don’t rush this part. And since this list will be just for you, nothing is really off limits. 

“Leading with honesty and integrity will rarely steer you wrong.”
– Amanda Guarniere

 

Step Two: Identify weaknesses you are working on improving

Read through your list and circle or highlight the weaknesses that you are either actively working on improving, or have concrete plans to work on. For example, I’m not great at EKGs, so I’ve enrolled in an EKG course which is a concrete plan for me to become better at this. 

This step will be important for what comes next – framing your answer for your interview!

 

Step Three: Narrow down your weaknesses to 2-3 responses

With a little bit of strategy, choose a couple of weaknesses to focus on during your interview. This is going to be different for everybody, and the ones you choose should mostly be related to the role that you’re in, and the role that you’re going for. 

Aim to wear the perspective of whoever the interviewer is going to be and try to put yourself in their shoes by picking the ones that you would be happy to hear that an employee is working on. 

For example, if you are a nurse who just graduated from NP school, and you’re applying for your first NP job in the outpatient setting, you’re not going to tell them that you’re not good at IVs, because the interviewer won’t really care. They don’t want to hear that you’re focused on something that’s not quite relevant to the role you’re interviewing for. 

Really try to be a little bit vulnerable by sharing weaknesses as they relate to your future role, and that you are actively working on improving.

 

Step Four: Script your answer and practice!

Now, the fourth and final step is to prepare and practice your answer. 

Many of the NPs that I work with find it helpful to have a script framework to follow along when it comes to responding to difficult questions. Script frameworks can help you to be familiar and certain about your response, without being totally word-for-word rehearsed.

Here is a general script that you can use to talk about your weaknesses:

Start by saying, “My greatest weakness is ___insert weakness here__”.

Give a background sentence or two about maybe how you discovered that this is a weakness or how it has affected you. You’re not going to say too much else, just two sentences about the weakness itself. Then you’re going to quickly pivot to this framed statement,

“To help myself improve in this area, I __insert what you’re doing__”. 

Talk about what you have already done or what you’re doing to improve. 

Be explicitly clear in pairing the weakness with the positive action. “This is my weakness: + “this is what I have done to help myself improve”.

Once you come up with the script, review it a few times to be comfortable with it; you can practice it out loud. Consider preparing two, maybe three of these responses, so that in case you’re asked about more than one weakness, you’ll be prepared and not caught off guard. Always be extra, extra prepared!

 

Let’s recap.

  1. Get reflective and write down a list of all your weaknesses as it relates to your job or professional career journey.
  2. Read through and identify those weaknesses that you are actively working on improving or that you have plans to work on.
  3. Narrow down to two to three weaknesses that you plan to focus on in your response. And the way you decide this will mostly be based on the type of role you’re in, and the type of role that you are applying for and that you’re interviewing for.
  4. Prepare and practice your answer scripted out a little bit in advance, and prepare two or three responses so that you are not caught off guard.

 

I really think this is a foolproof way of discussing your weaknesses in an interview. You will still probably get nervous and that’s okay. But it will be really helpful that you have thought about this in advance because you won’t be at risk of your mind going blank or having to make it up on the spot.

Would you like to hear more interview content? Let me know! Tag me on Instagram @theresumerx or send me a message!