Apr 29, 2015
Medical Student (Accepted)
I'm wondering, given that your interviewer probably has some knowledge base on the area of your research, how much detail should you give when asked to describe? Just the general gist of what the lab was interested in, how you contributed (very high level), and the results that you found without going into, for example, the specific molecules looked at -- would this be sufficient? Thanks!


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Know your audience. With a smart phone you should be able to figure out who your interviewer is, where and when they went to school and in what subject area (not all interviewers are physicians and some will be very old). From there you should be able to tailor your presentation. If you are being interviewed by a PhD histologist you can go into different detail than if you are being interviewed by a bioethicist or an 80 year old psychiatrist. Some interviewers will want to see how well you can speak to patients and so will ask you to describe your research in terms that a child or a lay person can understand. Again, take your cue from the interviewer.

Better to say too little and be asked a follow-up question than to go on too long and bore your audience. I'd say that 30 seconds (the length of a TV commercial) should be the right length to start. I'd go with "We are interested in knowing more about ___. We use _[technique]__ to [verb] [object]. We hope that this may advance the field of ___. I've learned how to___. I found _[describe failure]__ to be very frustrating but when _[describe success]__ I felt the thrill that goes with discovery." Don't memorize this speech but some of these sentences should cover what you want to convey.
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Apr 29, 2015
Medical Student (Accepted)
Ah, thanks @Lawper! Okay, so I'll go with keeping it brief and then going into more details when asked.

Question - is it appropriate to ask the office of admissions who my interviewer will be? I would love to know who he/she is prior to the interview, but I'm not sure it is typical practice as the school I am interviewing at, and don't want to risk sounding nosy or whatever.

EDIT: ok, read that thread you linked. sounds like the only way to know before hand would probably be right before the interview.
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Mar 25, 2015
You could have a few hours before an interview at most places, and honestly just knowing their title helps a lot. Are they clinical or research? Outside their office, (particularly if they are a research professor) they will probably have a poster describing their research, so you can use that to gauge what level of detail you should go into. My two pieces of advice:

a) particularly if they are clinical faculty lead off right away with clinical significance, they probably won't even bother paying attention if they you're still talking about the intricacies of Hippo signalling 2 sentences in.

b) keep it short. the eyes will glaze over after the 2 minute mark and you will probably have gone into a level of detail way beyond their interest or expertise. But if they ask follow-up questions by all means dive right into the detail. One of my interviewers and I shared a similar research area, and really got into a good discussion about Wnt and stem cell progenitors.
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