If you’ve been in the nursing game long enough, the same lame questions will manage to show up in interview after interview. Where do you see yourself in five years? What’s your greatest weakness? You know, the small-talk questions that fill up the time between the really important questions.
But all those seemingly meaningless questions actually have a purpose — which is why most hiring managers use them. What are interviewers really trying to find out with these asinine questions? We’ve put together a list of the seven “stupidest” interview questions to help you discover their underlying meanings.
1. Can You Tell Me a Little About Yourself?
Why It’s Stupid: The question is entirely too general. There is no way you can cover every facet of your life and personality in the allotted interview time. There is also no way for you to tell what specifically the interviewer wants to know about you without asking them to narrow their focus, which is usually the reason for the follow-up questions.
What It Really Means: The interviewer is testing your all-important ability as a nurse to interact with others. By putting you on the spot, your answer gives the interviewer an idea of how you present yourself in a social setting and a glimpse of what you think the most important facts about yourself are.
2. What Are Your Greatest Weaknesses?
Why It’s Stupid: Let’s be real — absolutely no one is going to give an honest answer to this question. Why would you openly talk about your greatest weaknesses in front of the person who is making a hiring decision? The most common answers to this question are filled with fluff and what we think the interviewer wants to hear.
What It Really Means: The interviewer is trying to see how honest you are, as well as trying to determine if you are able to overcome obstacles. If you say that your greatest weakness is ”working too hard,” that’s not an obstacle. If you give a legitimate weakness, such as not being able to keep track of all your charts, then you can provide examples of how you have overcome that weakness and are now an expert at charting.
3. Where Do You See Yourself in Five Years?
Why It’s Stupid: No one can tell where they are going to be that far into the future. Life happens. Things change — especially in nursing. Which is why this question frustrates most job interviewees. But the question also seems to set a trap, making the interviewee answer in terms of where they see themselves within that particular hospital or organization, afraid that any other answer will disprove their loyalty.
What It Really Means: No hospital or clinic expects you to swear a lifetime allegiance to them during your interview. The question is a chance for you to speak to your long-term goals, give them a better idea of your nursing career development plan and how it could progress with the organization. It also gives you a chance to speak to your strengths and highlight the areas where you believe you’ll grow the most.
4. Why Do You Want to Work for This Hospital?
Why It’s Stupid: Most interviewees get annoyed with this question because it seems redundant. You wouldn’t be interviewing if you weren’t interested in working for that hospital, right? So it shouldn’t matter why you are interested, only that you fit the job description.
What It Really Means: The interviewer isn’t trying to gauge your interest in the position, but is more interested in your motives for applying. If you’re just looking for a paycheck, that makes it easier for the interviewer to go with a more ambitious applicant who is excited about their specific nursing opportunity. If you’re applying to escape your current nursing job, what’s to say you won’t be miserable with this hospital staff? It’s a way for the interviewer to weed out those interviewing for the wrong reasons.