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5 Common Weaknesses in Medical Interviews

Published on
May 2, 2024

Though medical school interviews hold a reputation for being too exhausting, a good performance in your medical interview guarantees entry into your dream medical school. During a medical interview, the interviewer has no clue about your academic achievements and makes a decision based on your character traits that are deemed worthy in a doctor. In fact, medical interviews ensure you are as good in person as you have already appeared to be on your transcripts and personal statements or portfolios.

It is important to be aware of weaknesses that can unintentionally come across negatively to your interviewers. So, here’s a list of 5 common weaknesses in medical interviews that you can focus on to strike a chord with the interviewer, giving you insight into what could hold you back in your medical interview.

1. Medical Interview Arrogance

The road to medical interviews is not easy, it involves multiple internships and extra-curricular activities to reach this stage in the application process. A common setback during a medical interview that most students struggle to come to terms with is collaborating with others and not being receptive towards other perspectives. This may be the case when you are too assured of your views and do not take other views into consideration. ‘Arrogance’ is a good medical interview weakness to discuss as you can highlight your struggle to reward other people for their achievements. However, it is best to mention this weakness whilst discussing strategies you have implemented to overcome this.

Example of a Medical Interview Weakness on Arrogance

Start off by taking inspiration from real-life scenarios and refrain from using phrases like, 'I will be a good doctor as people always like me.' Instead, use appropriate examples to demonstrate how you began working on this setback. For instance, an excellent example for a medical interview weakness on arrogance would be:

'I used to work part-time as a receptionist at a pharmacy while completing my bachelor's. It demanded constant customer assistance and keeping tabs on the latest product arrivals. In addition, the role required me to maintain a strict deadline and work in collaboration with other interns while juggling my university assignments. As I had prior experience working as a receptionist, I behaved like a know-it-all in the initial days of my work. However, this inhibited me from developing a good relationship with my colleagues, and hence, I reached out to the pharmacist and began working on my tone and approach within the workplace. Instead of sounding too self-righteous, I began channelising my knowledge into helping other co-workers. Hence, I always try to use my knowledge to help others than imposing my views or demeaning others.

2. Lack of Compromise In Your Medical Interview

It can be difficult to come to terms with your weaknesses, let alone discuss them with a stranger. Yet, this is exactly what you have to do in your Med interview. The interviewers question your limitations and test your comfort level about addressing your shortcomings. Having said that, lack of flexibility is a genuine weakness that most of us find tricky to overcome. Most often while answering a medical interview question, we may tend to project our prejudices on the response rather than providing an informed overview. This may hinder your chances of receiving a medical school offer as medical interviewers seek character traits that are unbiased and open to new suggestions. 

Therefore, during a medical interview, it is best to display a mindset that is politically unbiased and leave your personal prejudices out of the picture. For example, if you are questioned about rural health issues in Australia, try and have a balanced response. Open-mindedness also depicts your credibility as a doctor.

In contrast, if you are struggling with compromise, try to reflect upon your past experiences; whether it was volunteer service or extra-curricular activities that required you to be accommodative of others. 

Example of a Medical Interview Weakness on Lack of Compromise

You can start off by phrasing a statement around:

'I have struggled with accepting people's opinions on matters and found it very difficult to change my views. However, since I joined a basketball team/ school choir group, I began noticing the importance of acknowledging other opinions. One such instance is during team selection. As the team captain, I was confused as to who should make the team during the try-outs. I felt the pressure on me as I had to make a quick decision, however, my team pitched in and provided insights, and guided me towards choosing the right player. And that’s how I managed to learn the essence of teamwork and collaboration. This quality is highly essential in a doctor, i.e., to discuss with their peers’ other possible outcomes to diagnosis, hence ...'

3. Immaturity In Your Medical Interview

There's a famous saying that goes, 'There's a child in all of us.' As much as we enjoy adulthood, the liberty of leading an independent life, we all strive to be child-like, free of responsibilities and having little to no concern for worldly stresses. Though you aspire to be a doctor, you may have been oblivious to the world around you, which is not an ideal quality to present during a medical interview. Being immature can translate to your inability to adorn leadership roles. 

Medical interviewers expect an applicant with a balanced persona, who has an understanding of local and global health issues, and a calm demeanour to act responsibly during a medical crisis. One way to improve your knowledge and understanding of world issues is by reading online blogs and articles from legitimate sources, such as medical journals and publications. This will help you stay updated with the latest news or medical discoveries etc. Additionally, provide a substantial example of a time during an internship or extra-curricular activity that demanded you to take charge or manage a team and delegate day-to-day tasks. 

4. Disorganised Thoughts and Actions During Your Medical Interview

Time management is an essential skill and medical school can become a stressful journey if not managed competently. In addition, the role of a doctor demands that you are able to swiftly organise ideas and dissect issues to get to the core of a problem. Therefore, it is imperative to be effective and juggle different tasks from a premed stage.

On the flip side, if you wish to discuss time management in the medical interview, highlight a real-life scenario that impeded your daily growth. Focus on scenarios where you procrastinated a task and didn’t meet the deadline, leading to implications at your work. By doing so, you demonstrate to the interviewer that you are aware of the setback and how it impacts your tasks. Once you have addressed the issue, discuss the approach that helped you improve time management. 

A great way to improve time management is developing a strategy when assigned a task. Prepare a plan, create a to-do list of tasks you must accomplish, allot strict deadlines and remember to reward yourself once you finish a task successfully.

5. Having Closed Body Language During Your Medical Interview

Your body language matters. Closed or negative body language portrays you in a negative light when answering questions. You may have all the medical knowledge and possess considerable skills to excel in the medical field, however, if you fail to communicate your ideas effectively, your chances of getting a good interview score may not come to fruition.

Some of you may be too shy or nervous to face new challenges and portray closed body language. Therefore, closed body language depicts your inability to hold an engaging conversation. This affects the tone in which you describe your responses when presented with medical interview questions. One way to improve this weakness is by changing your body posture. A person's posture speaks volumes about their personality; a person sitting with crossed legs and folded arms in a hunched position may come across as less confident than a person who makes eye contact and sits upright. 

The second method to incorporate is perfecting your medical interview tone. As easy as it sounds, this skill can be challenging to master. Medical interviews can become a daunting experience if you don't control the direction of the conversation. Try to break the ice by expressing your go-getter attitude and build a genuine rapport with the interviewer.

Frequently Asked Question

Addressing the question about your greatest weakness in a medical school interview can be challenging to navigate. While you want to be genuine, being too honest about a significant weakness could undermine your candidacy. The key is to strike a balance between honesty and positivity, showcasing your self-awareness and willingness to improve. Check our article on What's Your Greatest Weakness?, where we have discussed the purpose behind this question and outline winning strategies for effectively addressing it.

Where to from here?

The best medical school interview weakness is the kind that doesn't raise any red flags about your failures. Instead, it puts a positive spin on approaches you have implemented to overcome these setbacks. The reason the interviewer questions you about your weaknesses is to understand how well you connect with yourself and whether you have invested time to reflect on them. 

We hope that our article provided you with a rough sketch of how to approach medical interview questions around weaknesses. Furthermore, remember to not show a defeatist personality but be optimistic about encountering challenging situations in the future. Check out some of our articles on: