How to Answer 3 Dreaded Interview Questions (Nursing Job Interview Skills Series)
People often dread interviews for a few simple reasons. One of them is having to answer one or more of the questions everyone hates to answer. You know the questions: What is your greatest weakness? Tell me about a time you had a conflict with a co-worker and what you did to resolve it. These are a couple of the difficult questions you are likely to hear during an interview. Being prepared for them will not only build your confidence but also will help you answer seemingly hard questions with ease.
What is your biggest weakness?
When asked about your biggest weakness, you first need to be honest. Do you think anybody wants to hire someone who really thinks he or she doesn’t have a weakness? (No way!) We all have weaknesses. Acknowledging weaknesses is actually a good thing. If you had a glaring weakness (e.g., no background in the specialty, no management experience, etc.) and failed to acknowledge it, employers would take it is a bad sign or red flag. In reality, weaknesses are ok, but blindness is not. Sharing a weakness and also sharing how you plan to overcome it is a purposeful way to acknowledge it while providing viable solutions to addressing it.
A potential employer can feel a lot more comfortable with the fact that you have put forethought into an issue and taken action to resolve it rather than simply being aware of a weakness. This could be defined as self-leadership. What have you already done to address this weakness? Showing that you have proactively addressed issues makes a weakness seem like something in the past and potentially, in the future, could be seen as a strength with continued efforts. Make the interviewers feel comfortable with the awareness that you are personally concerned about some of your weaknesses and doing something about them.
Weaknesses don’t have to be major character flaws. They could be something as simple as needing to grow in the area of organizational skills, in time management, or in learning a specialty. These “weaknesses” might have simply not been tested much. All of these weaknesses have a wide variety of resources to help you grow in a particular area. Pick a few and start growing today. Concisely state your weakness and your plan to overcome it.
Conflict with a co-worker or patient?
This is personally my most dreaded question. Most people don’t like this question because we try to get along with our co-workers and often avoid those with whom we have a difficult time working. In reality, we have a lot of conflicts with other people we work with and we need to manage those situations and relationships professionally. In any leadership role, you will be responsible for addressing this issue head-on.
The goal here is showing how you addressed a situation that needed to be addressed and did it in a professional manner. Ideally, the person with whom you had a conflict would respond in an appropriate way, but that isn’t always guaranteed. The main points of emphasis here are an acknowledgment of a conflict, an action or intervention you took, and the results of that action (basically the SHARE model). Be sure you are specific with how you addressed the issue in a professional and appropriate manner.
Tell me about yourself.
This seemingly easy question can cause people to stumble. Sometimes the open-ended, broad questions are the most difficult! Given that this question is wide open, you can use it to your advantage. If you look at some of your skills that would be helpful for the interviewer to know about but likely won’t come up naturally during the interview, this would be a great time to bring them up. Maybe it is some side work you do, or volunteer experience, or even hobbies such as a sport. If you have formal roles in the community or in your place of worship, you could note those things as well. This will allow the interviewers to see more of who you are. It will help them feel more comfortable with your personality and character.
Again, don’t just share these experiences but explain to the interviewer why they are important to you. For example, I enjoy working out and partaking in a healthy lifestyle, and I enjoyed serving my community the past few years by leading at the Community Center. These show my character and desire to make an impact in my community. All of these things show something about you while also showing the interviewers how those things are a practical asset to you as a potential job candidate.
If there are other questions that you are worried you might be asked, plan for them. If you struggled to answer a question previously, be prepared to answer it for your next interview. Interviews are all about preparation. My grandpa had a saying that stuck with me. He always said that “nobody has time to do things right the first time, but they always have time to go back and do them over.” We don’t want to put the necessary time to interview the first time, but we will willingly spend even more time by preparing for more interviews in the future. Treat every interview as your last. (Get that job offer!) By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail. Instead, prepare well.