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Being grilled on research during the interview?

hra87

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    Didn't happen to me at any of the top 10 schools. But it can, so be prepared. Just know your stuff, it shouldn't be a big deal. But most of those research-heavy schools have the most touchy-feely "tell me about yourself" type interviews of the bunch.
     
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    TheRealMD

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      I got asked why I didn't have any. But I think I did ok.

      Now here's the thing, if you did research for 2 years, I HOPE you got something out of it, because it shows a lack of critical thinking if you use research as a checkbox and can't explain what you did. And if you don't sound too excited about it either, again more questions rise as to why you did something you dislike for so long.

      That kind of stuff.
       

      hra87

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        Were the questions pretty generic?

        Describe your research... and difficulties you faced and so on?

        I had research and only maybe half the schools (top-10) asked me about it. Of the half that did, the entire question consisted of "tell me about your research." I said ok, blah blah blah. They said ok thanks, and moved on to the next question.

        Note: not all interviews will be like this, I'm sure.
         

        pride4jc727

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          I didn't apply to Georgetown but one of the docs I shadowed during my clinical research told me and another research associate about the first time he applied and got interviewed there (he eventually got in on the second time and matriculated here). He said that his interviewer opened his file and asked him two questions.

          The first question was, "So tell me about your research experience?"
          He said, "Well, quite honestly, I don't have any."

          Once he said that, the interviewer shut his file, and asked, "So is there anything else I need to know about you?"

          That was how the interview went...yikes!!! Fortunately for me, I had the clinical research and shadowing a cardiothoracic surgeon in order to touch both the research and clinical dimensions of evaluation. At this point, however, I hope I can just get in to med school.
           

          dundermifflin

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            I was asked about research at one of my interviews. I think the interviewer wanted to see if I really did as much as I claimed I did. She asked me specific questions like, "what kind of modifications did you put on the histones?" This questions was very easy for me to answer, but if I was pretending to do more than I really do in my lab then I would have stumbled.

            I was told by a med student who interviews at her school that its easy for them to see who actually did lab work and who was a "lab rat"
             

            amph119

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              I'm actually dreading the fact that a lot of interviewers will probably not ask me about my research even though it has become one of the biggest parts of my life lately. I'd be able to answer anything and everything they could ask me.
               

              SnoPearl

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                I was also very very rarely asked any questions beyond "tell me about your research" at any of the schools I interviewed at (including big research schools). The one time I was grilled a bit was at an interview with a PhD interviewer, who tried to ask me about my research and its application to other fields that I no previous knowledge of (I stumbled a bit here). Other times I was asked to explain my role in the research, and why it should be considered "biomedical engineering", things like that.

                Considering the fact that research is the meat of my application, the interviewers mostly seemed to want to know about the other aspects of of my life (I think if you've shown dedication to research in your application via publications and length of time committed, they know you've done your part - versus the person who has a few semesters of "research" that could be washing test tubes and should be questioned during an interview). I think as long as you know what you're researching and you can discuss the background and implications of your work, then you'll be fine. Most people won't know enough about your work to be able to grill you anyway.
                 

                EpiPEN

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                  I got grilled on my research on two occasions. My Stony Brook interview and my UCSD interview.

                  The Stony brook guy asked me to explain in depth how exactly psudopods were formed in my particular neutrophil study. After I did my best to explain, he shrugged and said, "I don't get it." I still got accepted though :D.

                  The UCSD guy kept asking me about the ethics of the clinical research I did and what I thought was the mentallity behind people signing up to do these studies and what my thoughts are on the implication this has on the analysis of the outcome. I did my best to explain and he shrugged and said, "I guess we'll never know." I still got accepted though :D.

                  So I guess.... don't sweat it is what I'm trying to say. Just make it sound like you know what you are talking about and don't matter if they get it or not.
                   
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                  Maxprime

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                    The only thing you could possibly have to work on is how to explain your research to people outside of your field. It's easy to forget how specialized research is, odds are that no one outside of your lab will know as much as you do about your topic. They want to see if you were actually involved in the research or if you just did pipetting to get your name on a paper and put the EC on your AMCAS.
                     

                    MassTransport

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                      I wasn't grilled about my research, but I was asked about it plenty of times. Practice a short non-technical explanation, and unless your interviewer works in the field, you likely won't get asked anything more about it. For an MD interview, I feel it's more the attitude in which you present your research than anything else, so frame your answer in terms of intended goals.
                       

                      HIVdoc2b

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                        Six years of research, at and the only interview I got (top 5 school for NIH funding), no one even breathed the word "research." I could have cried. Research is something I can talk about passionately. For hours.
                         

                        horhay1241

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                          I too, got grilled at UCSD. The interviewer spent almost 30 minutes out of the 60 minute interview grilling me on the research. Why didn't you do X instead of Y? How does this work? Why are you doing this? Explain how this works on a molecular level. blah blah blah. It was pretty intense, especially since I only did part time research (and mentioned that on my amcas). Side note: Interviewer also thought shadowing a doctor was disrespectful and harmful to patients and bluntly let me know that. It was a great day.
                           

                          ICanDoThis

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                            Some of my interviewers barely mentioned research, but one of my HMS interviewers grilled me on it. For each research project, she asked me, "what were your methods, hypotheses, results, and conclusions?" When I addressed each of those aspects, she countered with alternative methods and asked me why I had not set up the experiments differently.
                             

                            CCLCMer

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                              Especially at the top more research-oriented schools, I hear about students being grilled on their research. What kinds of questions could they ask?
                              You'll definitely get asked about your research if you apply to CCLCM because this is a 5-year research MD program. Most people get one MD interviewer who asks the typical med school questions (why medicine? why CCLCM?) and one PhD interviewer who asks you about your research (why was the hypothesis of your project? what was your role? what did you learn?) You should be ready to explain what you did and why, future directions, etc.
                               

                              WantsThisBad

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                                i played it off a little diff'rently. they asked me about my research at like each school i interviewed at. i did wrote some of the papers and the parts in the grants that were salient to my research. i knew this like [something i know well]. but it had been a while since i did any of the research and, honestly, i didn't really care about it then or now. so i explained a bunch of the research until i got bored of talking about or i could see the interviewer's eyes glaze over. then i said "the research isn't important to me because of this mechanism or this process. to me it's important because it opened my eyes to _______." then i would talk about ______ in the sexiest way possible. i also told them about the lessons i learned. i was less sexy about this because i was trying to make a point but i think it didn't work. you can't hide the hot.
                                specifically, we worked on developmental neurobiology - the major changes that occur in synaptic consolidation at puberty. importantly, this period is when a lot of mental illnesses begin to manifest themselves. my research isn't important to me because i give a damn about synaptic transmission. it's important because i'm touched by the illnesses that affect people at what should be a major period of personal growth and maturation. this led me to an interest in psychiatry.
                                it's cool because it tells a story and i think stories are cool.

                                Wow
                                 

                                bozz

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                                  You'll definitely get asked about your research if you apply to CCLCM because this is a 5-year research MD program. Most people get one MD interviewer who asks the typical med school questions (why medicine? why CCLCM?) and one PhD interviewer who asks you about your research (why was the hypothesis of your project? what was your role? what did you learn?) You should be ready to explain what you did and why, future directions, etc.

                                  Woah! Didn't know Cleveland Clinic was a 5-year MD program.. def. gonna have to look into that.
                                   

                                  URHere

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                                    Like others have said, you probably won't be grilled about your research unless you apply MD/PhD. That being said, if someone was going to dwell on research, these are some things they would probably ask

                                    1) "Tell me about your research" (you need to be clear, concise, and accurate)

                                    2) "Your research doesn't tell you if X, Y, or Z is a factor. What experiments could you run to test this?"

                                    3) "Why did you use your technique instead of this other technique?"

                                    4) "If you had unlimited time and resources, what would you add to your project?"

                                    As an MD candidate, they may ask you exactly what your techniques or tests tell you, how they work, etc. They generally skip that part with the MD/PhD kids but they may ask, especially if you haven't been in a lab for very long.

                                    If they ask you something and you don't know, just say you don't know. To be honest, interviewers will expect some basic knowledge, but if you are a lab assistant or you don't have your own project they will not expect you to know every detail.

                                    Don't stress about it. If you are paying attention in lab, you should be able to answer their questions. If they should happen to grill you, hopefully the list of questions above will help.
                                     
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