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crying during an interview - game over?

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical Allopathic [ MD ]' started by kemist, Mar 1, 2008.

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  1. kemist

    kemist

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    Talking about why I want to be a doctor brings out a lot of emotions in me. When doing a mock interview the other day, I started to tear.

    My mock interviewer asked what my career goals are after med school, and I answered:

    "After completing residency I want to enroll in Doctors Without Borders. When I return I will work towards opening a private practice that caters to medicaid and uninsured patients."

    It brought out a lot of memories of my impoverished childhood and chronic illness. Given the personal nature of medical school interviews, I fear theres a strong possibility my softest emotional buttons will be pushed.

    Do adcoms reject a teary eyed candidate the moment he leaves the room?
  2. mfrizzo3

    mfrizzo3

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    No they would not reject you.
  3. jelly476

    jelly476

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    what kind of question is this? of course they dont mark you off if you cry. theyll probably just ask you why you're crying, and if you simply explain that its because you feel so strongly on a topic/have a backgorund in it, they'll understand and probably like you for it. it will probably help you get in if you show genuine emotion. just dont be fake about it though, theyll see right through that.
  4. Maxx4

    Maxx4 Have I annoyed you yet?

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    I'm not an adcom but I find it unprofessional. Surely you can express yourself without crying. I think it comes off as weak.
  5. UFMed

    UFMed Life Coach

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    i would try not to cry...but if the tears are building up naturally- release the flood gates. just don't make it a habit of crying... i too think it may be a little much.
  6. BigRedPremed

    BigRedPremed Senior Member

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    I wouldn't mark you down for crying but I would see you as too idealistic. When you are shouldering 160,000 in debt, you don't have the luxury to be working at third world countries or for the uninsured.
  7. RySerr21

    RySerr21 i aint kinda hot Im sauna

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    so i take it you won't be voting for hillary clinton?

    to the OP: if a presidential candidate can cry (twice), then you can cry during a med school interview.
  8. 135892

    135892 Guest

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    No reason to kill his idealism this early :cool:
  9. 135892

    135892 Guest

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    "cry"
  10. Maxx4

    Maxx4 Have I annoyed you yet?

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    I never had any intention to. ;)
  11. malicious1116

    malicious1116

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    .
    Last edited: Jun 26, 2012
  12. Cegar

    Cegar

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    If I were interviewing you, I would be rather disgusted.

    Blech. Crocodile tears.
  13. HumidBeing

    HumidBeing In Memory of Riley Jane Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor

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    Believing so strongly in something that your sensitivity shows isn't likely to get you knocked off the list of acceptable applicants. If those are your goals, then you should be prepared to answer questions on how you expect to keep your private practice catering to medicaid and uninsured patients afloat. Private practice is a BUSINESS, a business which requires considerable capital investment, staffing, stocking, and insurance costs which are not likely to be covered by medicaid payments and those unable to afford insurance. You will also need enough income beyond the costs of doing business to be able to live.

    Your goals are admirable. I'm not knocking them. It's normal for us pre-meds to be naive. Still, it's best to investigate and understand as many of the practicalities and possibilities of our plans as we can before being put on the spot by an interviewer. You obviously can show them that you have 'heart'. You'll want to show them that you're grounded, as well.
  14. Textuality

    Textuality

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    I think for people who typically never cry, it can be hard for them to understand that some people's "cry reflex" can just be really sensitive. For example, I cry at sad movies, touching novels, and happy occasions like weddings. Believe me, if I could stop it, I would, but it's like trying not to sneeze or suppressing a coughing fit. I think my empathy/emotion nerve is just a little too sensitive sometimes, but I'm not really sure how to adjust it. It's not something I can "turn off". To be fair, the tearing up doesn't really affect my mental capacities or judgment in any way, it just makes my face wet and the guy sitting next to me mildly uncomfortable and under the impression that I need to be comforted,

    So I think it probably depends on who your interviewers are. Crying can mean a lot of things depending on the person I think, it could be a sign of weakness under stress, or it could just be a personality quirk. If I were an interviewer, I would just see if the crying was having an effect on how well the interviewer could continue to answer my questions. As long as it doesn't make them turn into a blubbering idiot, it'd be fine with me. But there are probably others out who look down on people who can't "control themselves". I guess you just have to hope your interviewer is the understanding sort who isn't quick to cast judgment.
  15. randomized1df374d41

    randomized1df374d41

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    Personally, I think it is pretty bad. I know you will have a few years before you would have to break bad news to a patient or their family, but this is a poor start. With so many applicants, adcoms need reasons to reject someone, post interview anyway. You will likely be in higher pressure or more emotionally straining situations as a physician, and it would be quite worrisome to see a candidate break down in an interview.

    When I explain my reasoning for going into medicine to someone who will really listen, a similar thing happens to me, but it didnt happen in interviews. How well did you know the mock interviewer?
  16. PreMD86

    PreMD86 'Pre' free!

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    The question is whether those tears are sincere and appropriate. If you tear up while talking about wanting to serve the underserved, you better believe the interviewer's next question is going to be, "I see you're very emotioal about this issue, is there any previous personal experience that has led you to want to pursue docs w/o borders?"
    And guess what? You're answer better be more meaningful than "watching hotel Rwanda really touched me"

    Interviewers are lean, mean B.S recognizing machines. As long as it's sincere, go ahead and cry them a river.
  17. nevercold

    nevercold

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    I hate to say it, but I agree. Being able to maintain your composure is important and you need to find ways to do so. Having dealt with the recent death of a family member or friend is a reasonable cause for becoming upset, but being unable to compose yourself just while answering questions about the medically underserved or "why medicine?" would be a bit problematic.
  18. Drogba

    Drogba

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    Unfortunately, I think saying you want to join MSF and then proceeding to cry will, simply put, make you look fairly ridiculous. It's almost akin to saying "I want to save the woooorld!" and breaking down sobbing... You are going to need to learn to control your emotions a little bit better if you plan on working in the areas of the world MSF goes to.
  19. Cegar

    Cegar

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    The French are heartless.
  20. Harry Bahgina

    Harry Bahgina Needs a shave

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    When did it become acceptable for men to cry at interviews?
  21. 135892

    135892 Guest

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    Its not acceptable, real men never cry
  22. masterMood

    masterMood Removed

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    oh wait you're a guy? Rather possess an inactive masculine part? Gahhhhhhhhhhhhh.

    The only time men are allowed to cry is when a) they got an STD b) they got kicked in the balls or c) when they get married

    BOOSH!
  23. Cegar

    Cegar

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    Oh my God the swab test is the most painful thing my penis has ever experienced.
  24. littlealex

    littlealex little tiny alex

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    I don't think they'll reject you for it, but man, get it together. It's pretty pathetic to not be able to talk about your life's ambition without getting teary eyed. There are a lot of people who grew up under-privileged that don't cry in an interview.

    You're going to become a DOCTOR. You should be someone who is calm and observant, who can handle emotional trauma and deal with it in private. It may not be easy but get it together.

    Imagine being a doctor, treating a patient who happened to ask you "so why did you want to be a doctor?"

    OP: "I... I... *sniff* I... *sniff* I just wanted to helpp *sniff* help others who are *sniff* under privileged *cries*."


    If I were interviewing someone for something like this, I would do my very very best to judge him neutrally, but I think in my mind I'd think "Wow I gotta tell all my friends."
  25. HumidBeing

    HumidBeing In Memory of Riley Jane Moderator Emeritus Lifetime Donor

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    This thread is starting to collect inappropriate, misogynistic, and totally unhelpful posts.

    OP, keep practicing with the mock interviews. You will eventually get to the point where you become desensitized to the prompt and are able to give a well thought out answer without springing a leak. That's where you want to be - honest and sincere, not sounding scripted. Perhaps you will be one of the fortunate ones who do NOT have $160,000 debt hanging over your head after graduation. You will still have the feasibility issue about how to fund your dreams.
  26. Shejeboshease

    Shejeboshease Member

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    the trick is to sound sincere and honest without being cheesy. if i were an interviewer, and my interviewee starts crying...i would think of two things: one is that he or she is a really good actor or two: he or she is a little too naive; either way i wouldn't like it. its like you don't tell them that you are a very confident person; you give them examples and express your confidence with your tone and personality to prove that you are confident. by saying its ok to cry, you are essentially trying to prove that you are a genuinely emotional candidate with great commitment in medicine. a better way to achieve that goal is to explain with examples and sincere goals how your past experiences would help you to become to the best doctor you can.
  27. MSU2012

    MSU2012

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    I also started crying in a mock interview. It was mainly because I was really really nervous. And, like others above said, I was nervous because the mock interview was with someone I knew and I felt like she could see how terrified I was and how I didn't have good answer, etc. In real interviews it was much easier to put forth a confident face.

    However, I did actually tear up in one real interview. It was while responding to a question I was asked about the death of a patient I had become close to while working overseas. I kept my composure and continued with my answer while wiping my eyes calmly, then bolted straight to the restroom afterward before going out to where the other interviewees were waiting. I do not think the crying spell hurt me, as my interviewer said at the end that I was the kind of person we needed more of in this profession and that he would be proud to see me on campus in the fall. He actually got ahold of my e-mail from admissions and sent me a personal congratulations note after I was accepted.

    So, will crying ruin all your chances? Not necessarily, as long as you are genuine and handle yourself professionally. Ideally it would not happen, but if it does you need to make the best of it.
  28. DulyNoted

    DulyNoted

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    In a student interview, I choked up and took 10 seconds or so to collect myself. I am a guy and _never_ cry. Really. Close relatives passing away, relationships ending, physical pain, nothing. I can not remember the last time I shed tears.

    In this instance, though, we were discussing a secondary essay loosely related to a grandparent's death and a bunch of memories of this person flooded back to me at once. I caught myself quickly, the student interviewer handled it well, and we changed the subject. I don't think it reflected poorly on me, but what do I know.

    To the OP: Your situation is quite different and I think it would be looked upon negatively if you break down in tears after being asked "Why medicine?". Actually, were it me interviewing you, I would probably start laughing and excuse myself from the interview. I would recommend you request a second interview and not answer "Why medicine?" in that way.

    Additionally, enrolling in DWB sets you up to volunteer a few weeks (months?) out of the year and is not something you really "return from" in the way you are thinking, at least to my knowledge. Finally, a private practice dedicated to treating the uninsured is not a viable business model, with a very few exceptions.
  29. Drogba

    Drogba

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    Hopefully there won't be many (or any) uninsured to treat by the time the OP gets out of med school.
  30. Maxprime

    Maxprime Higgs chaser

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    Don't cry in an interview - it's just bad form. It's great to be passionate, but nobody wants a med student that seems like they can't talk about why they want to be a doctor without balling their eyes out. My first thought would be "how is this kid ever going to tell someone their child just died?" It makes you sound like someone that just wants to help people in the field of puppy dogs and smiles that is modern medicine. Regardless of whether or not it's true, in a 20 minute interview it's what they walk out of the room thinking - not necessarily what you want them to know.

    A good rule of thumb: If you're the only one crying, you probably shouldn't be. If you can talk about why you want to be a doctor and coax an interviewer into tears, join in and wait for your acceptance letter. I wouldn't be on that happening though.

    As for the guys crying - next time you do something stupid, apologize with tears instead of flowers and it will go over much better.
  31. decafplease

    decafplease Medical Student

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    :rolleyes:
  32. decafplease

    decafplease Medical Student

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    :thumbup:
  33. Drogba

    Drogba

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    Seriously! Wouldn't that just SUCK if there were no uninsured...

    Let me rephrase. By the time the OP finishes residency there should be 60M+ uninsured for them to treat (cue attack on CPS methodology). :thumbup:
  34. Laker4Life

    Laker4Life DoctaKobe

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    As long as you are sincere then you'd be OK. Just don't fake it like Hillary Clinton. :laugh:
    Oh, if you are a man, then ... uh uh, it doesn't look good at all.
  35. 135892

    135892 Guest

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    Yeah, otherwise you'll have the exact same fate
  36. Laker4Life

    Laker4Life DoctaKobe

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    This is what I'm talking about: it doesn't look good at all.

    [​IMG]
  37. moe_4eva

    moe_4eva doprepd on my haed

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    FAIL

    Ummm.... how do I even begin with this? If you don't deal with your emotions, it'll eat you alive. It's true that some people deal better by digesting what they have done in private. Others break down and cry. Still others make jokes about it (I fall in this last category).

    It isn't about how you deal with the emotions of the job, but when it is appropriate to deal with those emotions. Obviously, breaking down and crying in front of a patient is inappropriate, and we should be able to control our emotions in those situations. However, if someone has a really bad day and I find them crying in a closet, I won't blame them. Or, if they need to go home and bitch to their significant other or friends about the crap they have to deal with, fine by me.

    No offense, but it is a very closed-minded approach to believe that you can only deal with emotional trauma in private. ALOT of people would end their careers in medicine very quickly due to stress and breakdowns if they went by your logic.

    With that said, I will agree that you should be able to control your emotions in the interview room. If you've practiced it enough, you should have no issues holding back a tear. You are in a professional situation among potential coworkers, and I would personally find it a bit inappropriate, although I would understand and personally wouldn't mark the OP down for it.
  38. nevercold

    nevercold

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    This is when it is acceptable to get a bit teary-eyed and it sounds like DulyNoted dealt with the emotions appropriately.
  39. kevster2001

    kevster2001 Senior Member

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    What the other guy said makes sense though. I interpreted it as dealing with the emotional issues in your own private time, not necessarily doing it by yourself. It seems like the professional thing to do.

    As for the OP, everybody has sob stories. Unless is a recent family tragedy, save the waterworks. Getting teary eyed over helping the poor just screams cheesiness.
  40. AlaskaGrown

    AlaskaGrown AlaskaGrown

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    I teared up during the Hopkins student interview answering the question, "Of what are you most proud?" ... It also took me a few moment to compose myself ... Accepted. I guess it depends on the interviewer and the situation. It was unexpected and the only time I cried during an interview. I wouldn't recommend crying during interviews due to the seriousness of our perspective career field, but sometimes a question hits an emotional nerve and there's nothing you can do about it. The idea that men shouldn't cry or express their emotions is a sad, unhealthy cultural misconception.
  41. Mamy

    Mamy

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    wow. this post has made me really paranoid about my own interview.
    During my interview with a retired physician, I was talking about the passing of one of my friends and I started to choke up, but no tears. The interviewer told me to toughen up, but when I apologized, he said he wasn't being serious. Now I'm wondering if he really was serious....:scared:
  42. littlealex

    littlealex little tiny alex

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    Uh no, you fail.
    I didn't say not deal with your emotions, I said do it in private, as in on your own time, not on the clock. Okay, if something truly shocking and terrible just happened to you, go ahead, cry in a professional setting, I'll look the other way. But this is in response to "why do you want to be a doctor."

    Hell, I don't care what this is in response to, it's just unprofessional. Go cry to your friends and family about it to help you deal with it. Don't do it in public.

    We all slip up here and there, but I would had thought by the time you're 20 years old, you'd already had developed adequate controls of your emotions. Medicine is a stressful job, and I'd rather not be someone who wears his emotions on the sleeve.

    "*sob* a baby just *sob* died earlier *sob* it was so terrible *cries* so what brought you to the *sob* hospital today Mr. Johnson?"

    Can men cry? Sure, we're people. That's not what this is about. This is about crying to a routine question at the medical school interviews.

    And again, I didn't say I would mark the OP down for it. Read my damn post son. I said I would do my best to judge him neutrally, but then go and tell all my friends about it later.
  43. Anka

    Anka Senior Member

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    Don't cry during an interview. It'll be viewed, at best, as weak. At worst, that you're emotionally unstable and can't keep your sh** together. I would be thinking to myself (1) is this girl going to start crying during her clinical rotations? and if she does, is she going to write me up "being abusive" toward her? (2) how is this girl going to handle the stress inherant in being a doctor?

    A huge part of the purpose of the interview is to screen for pathology. Things like not being able to hold back tears (depression), showing up dressed in a clown suit (histrionic personality disorder), etc. are red flags.

    Crying also makes the person interviewing you uncomfortable. When a patient starts crying, there's a bunch of stuff I'm supposed to do -- slow down the interview, give them a tissue, sit quietly while they regain their composure. I assure you I don't want to be doing this stuff with my future collegue.

    That said, how do you avoid crying during an interview? It sounds like you need to avoid certain topics. If you tear up when you talk about MSF, you should probably leave that out of your answer about why you want to be a doctor -- figure out a less personal reason that you aren't going to tear up around and go from there. If you do all of the above and still cry, try not to make a big deal about it -- focus on putting your interviewer at ease and move on to the next question.

    Anka
  44. PeepshowJohnny

    PeepshowJohnny

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    I'd see this as a negative. Idealism and compassion is great, but I'd worry that someone who's so idealistic and so emotional. We all become hardened and cynical by this process that I'd wonder what would happen to someone like the OP. Emotional hardiness is very much required.
  45. Textuality

    Textuality

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    I think there's also a difference between tearing up, and all-out bawling waterworks.

    And I really don't think tearing up at an interview is that tightly correlated to how well you can "handle yourself" professionally. An interviewer is deeply probing into your personal life, beliefs, and motivation and you're also under a lot of stress, and it might be easier to hit a nerve under these somewhat scary circumstances. I've talked to many trauma patients about their extreme misfortune, and while I felt bad for them, I never teared up.

    Anyways, I still don't think it's an auto game over if you can recover from it or laugh it off, as long as it doesn't totally take you over and you spend the rest of the interview bawling.

    Haha, and for all those people saying that you have to be emotionally hardened...I thought that's what med school was for? :p
  46. Anka

    Anka Senior Member

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    You really do have to have an element of hardness going in. I've seen a few students break down crying on rotations, and it really hurt them quickly. Your crying places an obligation on anyone who saw you crying, and people resent this obligation as they would resent any weak link on the team.

    If you can't keep from crying during the "stress" of an interview, how are you going to keep from crying when you are sleep deprived, dealing with extremly sad situations which may well touch a nerve with you, and then have someone or more than one person yell at you because of something you did or didn't do? I dunno. You at least need to be able to hold it back long enough to get to the bathroom. As far as tearing up vs. crying, there are people who see you tearing up and immediately try to get some real tears out of you [not, hopefully, during an interview, but rather during rotations]. It's blood in the water, and some of the fish you'll be swimming with are sharks. All of this sucks, but you'll be a happier med student if you aren't tearing up or crying.

    So, learn to hold it back now rather than later. Try some kind of desensitisation -- watch movies that always make you cry and just refuse to cry or something.

    Anka
  47. Gut Shot

    Gut Shot

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    Exactly. A small, well timed tear may signal a degree of sincerity that is difficult to otherwise convey. Uncontrollable sobbing, on the other hand, labels you a freak.
  48. kemist

    kemist

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    Some of you are exceptionally cold meanies. :eek: I pity in advance the the sick and dying who will be exposed to your emotionless cost-function personality.

    Interviews are not a place to screen and weed out applicants with depression. It is a disease just like diabetes or MS. Barring someone from medical school based on a chronic treatable illness is not only illegal but also immoral.
  49. 154241

    154241 Guest

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    regardless, i'm pretty sure it still happens... i think it's taboo to talk about any history of mental illness because, let's face it, a med school wants to invest its resources on someone who is sure to graduate, and students with depression or anxiety or something will have a harder time with that. that's what i've always heard, at least.

    op, most of the responders have been genuinely trying to help you. i cry pretty easily, too, but i kept it in for interviews because i believe it would've hurt my chances.
  50. se2131

    se2131

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    Messages:
    308
    Status:
    Pre-Medical
    SDN 5+ Year Member
    We're not talking about depression, we're talking about being over-emotional in answering a question.

    Schools have technical standards that they require of their applicants (detailing what they expect us to be capable of).

    Behavioral Qualities
    A medical student must possess emotional health sufficient to carry out the tasks above, must have good judgment, and must behave in a professional, reliable, mature, and responsible manner.


    Quoted from one school, but every school I've seen has something to this effect. Whether it's right or not, an adcom would be perfectly justified in rejecting an applicant solely because of them crying during an interview, with some interpretation of the above.

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