golftrippy

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About half-way done with my interviews here and the question the question that keeps popping into my mind is "how important are these interviews for ranking?" At least in internal medicine, it seems like most interviews are just 1/2 hour conversations and they mostly revolve around things already present in your application. I have only gotten one tough question. After experiencing 7 of these days, I can't imagine that the interview can serve much more purpose than a screen for applicants and at most divide them into "good interview" vs. "ok interview" vs. "social reject." I feel like the application itself must still serve as the biggest factor as long as you don't screw up the interview, at least in IM. Thoughts?
 
Sep 16, 2010
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About half-way done with my interviews here and the question the question that keeps popping into my mind is "how important are these interviews for ranking?" At least in internal medicine, it seems like most interviews are just 1/2 hour conversations and they mostly revolve around things already present in your application. I have only gotten one tough question. After experiencing 7 of these days, I can't imagine that the interview can serve much more purpose than a screen for applicants and at most divide them into "good interview" vs. "ok interview" vs. "social reject." I feel like the application itself must still serve as the biggest factor as long as you don't screw up the interview, at least in IM. Thoughts?
The PD at my home program told us that the interviews are more to sell their program than for you to sell yourself. They want to make sure that you are personable, have good eye contact, are professional, etc, but it'll only give you a few points on your application. Only if your interview is a total flop, will it substantially affect your rank. She said they basically rank by your stats, and step 2's are really important.

But thats just 1 opinion from 1 PD. It may be markedly different at other programs.
 
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considering most applicants do not even release their step 2 scores to programs, I can't imagine step 2 factors in that highly to rank lists except for a few programs that are now requiring it..but I agree that your application as a whole is the most important factor and your fit with their program
 

Bike on a Trek

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A....at most divide them into "good interview" vs. "ok interview" vs. "social reject." I feel like the application itself must still serve as the biggest factor as long as you don't screw up the interview, at least in IM. Thoughts?
The application gets you the interview and rough ranking (say into tertiles)--so congratulations.

Make an assumption that almost everyone interviewed is likely going into a program's rank list. OF COURSE the interview day and interviews are important. If everyone is rankable, why wouldn't a program put "good interview" applicants ahead of "ok interviews"? It is NOT the difficulty of questions or probing to find out new facts not in your application that it is important. What is important is whether you can make a personal connection with the interviewer without a forced effort, whether you come across as someone they would want as their trainee, whether you seem like someone who would fit in with future peers, and whether you can articulate a good (not bs) reason for why their program is one that excites you (if you were a program director, getting applicants who are excited to be there IS important). You can't get any of that from the application. Interviewers are humans too, and they want to find a reason to like you. The interview makes a difference even if it is "only" 30 minutes (I suspect it doesn't take you 30 minutes to decide about someone you meet at a party). High scores and overstated extracurriculars on paper without a personal connection that shows you "fit" will lower your match ranking.
 

Pkboi24

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The PD at my home program told us that the interviews are more to sell their program than for you to sell yourself. They want to make sure that you are personable, have good eye contact, are professional, etc, but it'll only give you a few points on your application. Only if your interview is a total flop, will it substantially affect your rank. She said they basically rank by your stats, and step 2's are really important.

But thats just 1 opinion from 1 PD. It may be markedly different at other programs.
So by this logic, interviews gotten by "letters of interest" are merely pity invites?
 

JacobSilge

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I am going to go out on a limb here and say that how important the interview is varies greatly from program to program.

Besides, I'm sure that with the massive volume of applications that most programs are getting, interview invites are probably largely driven by numerical factors, such that the 30-45 minute interview might not matter all that much but it does ensure that someone actually read the application!
 

jdh71

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You might be surprised how many people look good on paper but are weirdos when you meet them
 

ProgCoordinator

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You might be surprised how many people look good on paper but are weirdos when you meet them
Amen! I've seen candidates who look like rock stars on paper totally bomb the interview day. Sometimes even going unmatched. The flip side being that a candidate who is somewhat weaker on paper can knock it out of the park during their interview day. Not to mention that you may visit a program that you'd anticipated would be your first choice. Only to find that you were totally turned off. Interviews are rather like blind dates.

As someone else had said above, so much can vary from program to program as far as how important the interview day is. But look at it this way...unless a candidate got the interview solely because someone pulled strings and they've got absolutely nothing else going for them (Halley's comet rare), the invitation was extended because the candidate's application represents them as being a good fit for the program. So getting the invitation is the first hurdle and once a candidate has gotten over that it's almost like a new game. The application will come back into play during ranking, but it will be balanced by the interview.

Although an interviewing candidate isn't exactly starting back from square one on interview day, I think it's best for you to go into it with the mindset that you've got a clean slate. Don't go in there feeling like you have to prove something because your submission has really already done that or you wouldn't have gotten the interview.

:luck:
 

SalseraDoctora

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Ha the blind date thing is so right! Do you want to marry the handsome, wealthy jerk who does nothing but talk about himself? Or do you want to marry the sweet, kind, doofus who you might initially be a little embarrassed to introduce to your friends? Or are you going to stick with the one who is attractive, seems bright, and has a lot of potential? :D
 

atsai3

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Although an interviewing candidate isn't exactly starting back from square one on interview day, I think it's best for you to go into it with the mindset that you've got a clean slate. Don't go in there feeling like you have to prove something because your submission has really already done that or you wouldn't have gotten the interview.

:luck:
You're right, the interviewing applicant is not at "square one". Full stop.

No sense in saying anything about a "clean slate" mindset. Some posters on SDN seem to think or hope that the interview is the great equalizer and that once you are invited for an interview you are on equal footing with all of the other interviewees. That's kind of like wishing for "full resurrection" grading, which is what my undergraduate chemistry class was like: no matter how poorly you did on interim & midterm exams, homework, and class participation, your grade on the final could fully resurrect your overall grade. In the context of applying for residency programs, that would be a stupid policy. Clearly someone with a more competitive application package (better grades, better board scores, better letters, etc) is going to receive greater consideration than someone with a less competitive application package (worse grades, worse board scores, worse letters, etc). However, this is not deterministic -- it's not like the interview counts for nothing. For example, interviews may help us weed out personality-disordered applicants, applicants who have problems with impulse control, applicants whose scores/publications/letters may poorly reflect reality, etc. But I should reiterate that someone with a more competitive application package is going to receive greater consideration than someone with a less competitive application package.

-AT.
 

ProgCoordinator

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You're right, the interviewing applicant is not at "square one". Full stop.

No sense in saying anything about a "clean slate" mindset. Some posters on SDN seem to think or hope that the interview is the great equalizer and that once you are invited for an interview you are on equal footing with all of the other interviewees. That's kind of like wishing for "full resurrection" grading, which is what my undergraduate chemistry class was like: no matter how poorly you did on interim & midterm exams, homework, and class participation, your grade on the final could fully resurrect your overall grade. In the context of applying for residency programs, that would be a stupid policy. Clearly someone with a more competitive application package (better grades, better board scores, better letters, etc) is going to receive greater consideration than someone with a less competitive application package (worse grades, worse board scores, worse letters, etc). However, this is not deterministic -- it's not like the interview counts for nothing. For example, interviews may help us weed out personality-disordered applicants, applicants who have problems with impulse control, applicants whose scores/publications/letters may poorly reflect reality, etc. But I should reiterate that someone with a more competitive application package is going to receive greater consideration than someone with a less competitive application package.

-AT.
I don't disagree with you. Very good and true point of view. Here's a gem: Several years ago we had a Chief who'd summed it up like this: "Once we get to the interviews, we're basically weeding out the *****holes."
 

dragonfly99

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Several years ago we had a Chief who'd summed it up like this: "Once we get to the interviews, we're basically weeding out the *****holes."
The problem is that most ****holes can clean it up for a short interview.
Actually I heard that UCLA did an experiment a few years ago where they didn't have interviews for MD program, just let in people randomly by lottery (after cutting the applications down to what would be the usual pool of interviewees). Late on down the road they did a retrospective study to compare these to applicants let into their school by the usual process (including an interview). The noninterviewed group did just as well in terms of research publications, matching, USMLE scores, all the stuff that could be measured, and were not more likely to be in any type of trouble or be held back, fail out, etc.
 

atsai3

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The problem is that most ****holes can clean it up for a short interview.
Actually I heard that UCLA did an experiment a few years ago where they didn't have interviews for MD program, just let in people randomly by lottery (after cutting the applications down to what would be the usual pool of interviewees). Late on down the road they did a retrospective study to compare these to applicants let into their school by the usual process (including an interview). The noninterviewed group did just as well in terms of research publications, matching, USMLE scores, all the stuff that could be measured, and were not more likely to be in any type of trouble or be held back, fail out, etc.
That's awesome. Did they publish this anywhere? Might be a good way to save everyone (applicants AND residency programs) a lot of money and time.

-AT.