It seems certain things will never change in interviewing for jobs. One of them is a strange habit of inquiring about your strengths and weaknesses. Why it is strange? Because people leading the interview with you, with their fancy job titles and academic degrees, should be able to tell your strengths and weaknesses once the interview is over. At the end of the day, that’s what they are paid for. Skilled recruiter or HR manager will know whether you are a good match for the job, or they have to look somewhere else for their dream candidate. Twenty minutes of face to face talk is typically enough. So why do they ask the question then, in healthcare interviews?

First of all, not all hiring managers excel in their jobs. Some people may really need your help when it to comes to identifying your weaknesses. Secondly, they may just follow this years long habit of asking the question, without exactly knowing why. And last but not least, they may have different intentions when asking the question. They can tell your strengths, but they wonder about your level of self-confidence, humility, self-reflection. Because only people who are aware of their weaknesses can take steps to eliminate them, or at least to improve on them.

Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to this interesting question. I tried to include on my list answers for variety of professions in healthcare, including answers for people with no previous working experience (fresh graduates) and also answers for med school students. You will find also one or two unconventional answers on the list, answers you can use if your main goal is to stand out, and say something the interviewers will remember, perhaps long after the interviews have finished. Enjoy!


7 sample answers to “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” question in healthcare interviews

  1. Communication skills are my greatest strength. It is one of the reasons why I decided for mental health as my healthcare field, since I believe communication with the patients is the key here. We need to understand them before we can treat them, and medications should be just a last resort in mental health. Patience is my strong point as well, and I see it as vital, considering that mental health problems often take years to address and heal. One cannot rush things here. My biggest weakness is probably working on a team, or managing a team to be more precise. That’s something I have struggled with at school. And though teamwork isn’t that important for this career, I still hope to improve on my managerial and leadership skills down the road.
  2. Definitely empathy, emotional intelligence. I can sense how people feel, and I am always ready to listen and understand. It should help me as a nurse, or at least I hope so. But I have to improve on my attention to detail, since I have a tendency to overlook certain numbers or facts. I am aware of my weakness, and do various mind-training exercises to improve on it.
  3. My biggest strengths is no doubt my experience. I’ve been working in healthcare for over fifteen years, on different positions. And though I prefer to stay humble, one can say that I’ve “seen it all and done it all”. Any challenging situation that can occur in a hospital, you can bet I’ve been through it before. And now I do not talk only about the challenges of the job, such as missing staff, lot of patients, working crazy hours, etc. I talk also about the personal challenges work in healthcare necessarily brings to your life, such as dealing with disappointment, setback, finding work-life balance. Having said that, my greatest strength can sometimes turn to my biggest weakness. It happens when I lose humility and think that I always know what to do, and should have the final word. Needless to say, it isn’t the case., and I need to learn to listen more to others, even when they have much less experience than I do..
  4. I would probably pick my attitude to this work. People choose career in healthcare for a variety of reasons–and each of them is certainly valid. But I am not in for having good grades, for following a family tradition, or for seeking a prestigious and well paid job. I am in because I see a meaningful purpose in this job, and really hope to make a difference in life of individual patients with providing quality service, day in day out. I still have weaknesses–I am not punctual, and I struggle with computers, but I also believe that each weakness can be addressed, and until I finish my studies I hope to improve on my computer skills, and stop being late for meetings.
  5. My attention to detail is second to none. Perhaps it isn’t a bad strength to have for an eye surgeon, which is the profession I eventually hope to have. My time management skills also stand out, and should help me manage a busy day in a healthcare practice. Having said that, I have to improve on my listening skills and communication skills in general, if I really want to become an outstanding doctor one day. Let’ hope I will…
  6. Honestly speaking, I cannot tell my strengths and weaknesses as a healthcare professional. This is my first job application in the field, and I believe I need to work here for a couple of months at least, to truly understand what I do well, and what I have to improve on. No doubt I will identify some weaknesses down the road, but I can assure you my goal is to become a great doctor, and I will do all I can to eliminate my weaknesses–once I discover them.
  7. Lack of experience is my greatest weakness. I’ve been an excellent student, and did my best to prepare for a work in hospital. But I also believe that you cannot simulate certain situations at school. You have to experience them on your own skin to know how you’d react to them, and whether they won’t catch you off-guard. Certainly some of them will, and it may impact me negatively in work. But I also know that everyone starts somewhere, and we learn from our mistakes. Nobody leaves the school with ten years of healthcare experience… We all have to gain the experience, often the hard way. Yet I want to assure you that I am eager to learn and motivated to give my very best each and every day at work.

Consider your (future) profession when deciding what strengths and weaknesses you will mention

We know many fields of healthcare. And while certain strengths will help you in every possible healthcare role–such as empathy and communication skills, some skills are more valid for mental health nurse than for a dentist, or for a medical assistant. Think about the job description for a while, what exactly you will do, what you will be responsible for. It should help you to pick the right strengths to talk about it the interview.

And when you do not know what to say, you can always fall back on your experience–either you have it (and it is your strength), or you lack it (and it is your weakness). It isn’t the most groundbreaking interview answer to “strengths and weaknesses” interview question in healthcare, but it is true, and it always makes sense… Hope this helps, and I wish you good luck!


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Matthew Chulaw
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