I recently had the opportunity to talk to a few program directors and attendings who do candidate interviews both for fellowships and for residency positions, not to mention interviewing for faculty positions. And the question that I was most concerned about was the most infamous question in all of interviewing: what are your weaknesses?
This is the most patently ridiculous question that an interviewer could possibly ask, but I thought I might as well find out the motivation behind such a loaded question.
The answer almost uniformly was that it gives the candidate an opportunity to reveal some professional areas for growth. Another responded that it seemed like something valuable to learn about someone.
I read MB's post about it, and I have to say, I agree. It is such a ridiculously stupid question, because it is inviting a person at best to shame himself, and at worst to outright lie. The classic way to escape this question is to turn it into a strength: I'm too detail-oriented. I'm a workaholic. You get the idea, and if you've interviewed for med school, you've probably done this.
The people I talked to said this was a stupid answer, but hell, if everyone gives the same answer, then maybe people will stop asking it. But sometimes, I look at this question as a challenge. And the last time someone asked me this, my response was: I'm not the smartest candidate you'll interview, not by a longshot. I'm not the sharpest or the most qualified, but I'll be just as good a doctor if not better because if all you were looking for were the smartest and the sharpest, you wouldn't be interviewing me right now.