HELP!! Inappropriate Interview Questions - What to do now????

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juls811

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..if I thought something was unfair...I would have talked to the admissions staff...yesturday.
 
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bbabul01

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I'd write a polite and respectful email to the Dean telling him you were concerned that your interview was not a fair or accurate interaction but rather an attempt to match his priorities with you. Let him know that you were uncomfortable, and see if you might be able to schedule another interview.

Yes, the best option would have been to talk to the Dean yesterday, but hindsight is 20/20. Just do it today, before it gets too far away and there's nothing you can do.

Also, there's a possibility you could be overreacting and it's just how the guy interviews. You have to assume he interviews everyone that way and he wasn't just out to get you.
 

Captain Fantastic

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Nothing about those questions are inappropriate, they are common ethical questions asked of interviewees. Perhaps you had more than the usual number of these questions, but they are not inappropriate to ask. The interviewer has every right to back you into a corner and have you defend your position. Perhaps he was just playing devil's advocate to see how you handle yourself. He is correct in that his generation is handing over the reigns -- I don't see anything inappropriate about stating that.

The odds of drawing an interviewer that agrees with all of your social and political views are pretty small. I would ride it out. If you feel you have to call and make a stink that you disagreed about some topics but that he was otherwise a very professional interviewer, go ahead. From the info you've given, I think that would only hurt your application.
 

jsnuka

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How do you figure he was Catholic and conservative in the same breath?:confused:

Did he say he was a Deacon in his church and was selling raffle tickets for the 50/50 with the parish's name affixed to the packet or something?


Is VCU the only scholl you have interviewed at thus far and you are concerned that this may be your only shot at an acceptance?

Or is VCU your ABSOLUTE first choice?

It does not seem like a big deal to me. I would be more concerned that you, seemingly, made a rush to judgment on the interviewer's religios beliefs and political stance based on a momentary conversation.

Would you do the same with your future patients?

That is, make a sweeping judgment based on a fleeting encounter.

BTW, I would not send anythign to the Dean. you never know what the response might be from the committee review of the interviewer's notes. Typically, the interviewer is YOUR advocate to the committee anyway. Nothing to be concerned about.
 

ExtremeUnderdog

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I would not worry too much about it. Those questions are not inappropriate for a med school interview. Asking about your sexual orientation would have been an inappropriate question. Those are all issues that come up in patient care and clinical research settings. Calling the dean would be nothing short of whining, and I should add, very inappropriate whining. Don't agonize over something that has already passed, especially since it really does sound like you handled yourself well. The admissions office probably knows that this physician has a strictly conservative take on certain issues and the adcom likely views his input within that context. If this ever comes up in a future interview, you can always give a brief summary of the pertinent arguments then say that you do not have enough knowledge and training in medicine to be able to make an informed decision on these issues... but you would be happy to discuss these issues with him and learn from him as a medical student at his school. :D

The statement that his generation is "handing the reigns" to the younger generation is an expression of a fairly common sentiment among older physicians.
 

notdeadyet

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Nothing about those questions are inappropriate, they are common ethical questions asked of interviewees.
Agree with ^^^.

Cristabel- these all look like pretty standard ethics questions for a med school interview. Given the fact that the guy is old, he may have come across more direct/less-PC than you're used to. And keep in mind that "stess interviews" (putting the candidate in the hot seat) used to be de riguer, thoug they're not done as much these days.

The fact that he was cordial and that the interview went pretty well sounds like you did okay. I think writing a letter to complain would be a very bad idea. Unless the guy literally attacked you religious views, you don't have much to complain about and will come across as a whiner, which could kill an otherwise good app.

I think you should walk away feeling good about it.
 

crstabel

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jsnuka

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What are you going to do when a patient says or does something to get a rise out of you?:confused:

You are not looking at your interview properly.
 
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jsnuka

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Hmm, I do not think I made a rush to judgment on you, but clearly you want to only comments from those who agree with how you feel.

Good Luck to you.
 

crstabel

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What are you going to do when a patient says or does something to get a rise out of you?:confused:

You are not looking at your interview properly.

I handled these questions quite diplomaticlly, I just did not think that judging my personal beliefs was appropriate. For example, what if the interviewer was a conservative Muslim and I was a Southern Baptist and he clearly felt that the next generation of physician's should embrace Islamic values and morals to the exclusion of other considerations? Would you think this was a fair line of questioning? Probably not.

I was there, you were not. Believe me when I say there is a difference between testing to see if someone has thought about tough issues and whether they agree with your personal, moral beliefs.
 

bodhisattva

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Same thing happened to me, but at a different school. I got a lot of ethics questions, and for some reason about half of them pertained to sex. :confused: I still got an acceptance.

I think the interviewer was just playing devil's advocate and trying to rile you up and see how you would react. It's a good test to see how you would treat a rude patient. I still think there are better ways to assess a person's personality and character, but if you handled it calmly, you should be fine.
 

crstabel

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Same thing happened to me, but at a different school. I got a lot of ethics questions, and for some reason about half of them pertained to sex. :confused: I still got an acceptance.

I think the interviewer was just playing devil's advocate and trying to rile you up and see how you would react. It's a good test to see how you would treat a rude patient. I still think there are better ways to assess a person's personality and character, but if you handled it calmly, you should be fine.


Maybe you are right. I was cool, but it was really frustrating to feel like my personal, moral beliefs were on trial. A good interviewer should be respectful that there are many equally appropriate viewpoints, and I clearly did not feel that this was the case.
 

cnoevil

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I think the interviewer was just playing devil's advocate and trying to rile you up and see how you would react. It's a good test to see how you would treat a rude patient. I still think there are better ways to assess a person's personality and character, but if you handled it calmly, you should be fine.

A lot of people talk about the stress interview and how med schools want to see how you would react....my question is who actually blows their stack and fires off at an interviewer? I would think that after 3+ years of work that culminates in that single hour, a rational individual could bite their tongue and keep their cool....
 

bodhisattva

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A lot of people talk about the stress interview and how med schools want to see how you would react....my question is who actually blows their stack and fires off at an interviewer? I would think that after 3+ years of work that culminates in that single hour, a rational individual could bite their tongue and keep their cool....

Hmmm...I bet my sister would. But she's already graduated from medical school.
 

notdeadyet

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A lot of people talk about the stress interview and how med schools want to see how you would react....my question is who actually blows their stack and fires off at an interviewer?
Very few. I'd be more concerned with folks following up with letters to the Dean.

crstabel- I'd strongly recommend giving a long and hard think about writing the Dean or taking any action. Your clarification post just sounds like the interviewer gave you his strong opinions. I don't see anything wrong or even unusual about this.

At the very worst, the interviewer has a big ego. Not unusual in medicine.
 

NovemberWhiskey

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You realize that when they ask ethical questions it's not to see what your view on the topic is but rather to see that you can think through both sides of the issue.




Him: "What is your view on end of life issues?"

WRONG:

You: "Well, physicians are supposed to help people, therefore pulling the plug is bad. MMMMmkay?"

RIGHT:

You: "Well, it's obviously a difficult situation, on one hand we have terminally ill patients who are in extreme suffering... on the other hand, depression is a big part of terminal illness, so how is it possible to evaluate what it is that the patient really wants? Ultimately it comes down to respecting the wishes and desires of the patient while maintaining the responsibilty and charge of a physician to heal and prevent death, I don't think one can have a concrete opinion and end of life issues must be evaluated on a case by case basis."


The first answer gives your opinion with some evidence and the reason why, but it is totally not what they are looking for. The second answer shows thought, contemplation, and mature thinking without siding solidly either way. Nothing is cut and dry in the medical world, so I don't think that any practicing physician would be expecting a pre-med student to have informed, solid decisions either way.

If its obviously a case where there is no ethical argument, then of course you should have a solid answer, but abortion, end of life, etc are definetly not in that category.
 

FizbanZymogen

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The interiew process is about judging you on your personality, traits, ability to reason. IT IS SUBJECTIVE!! Everyone thinks this process must be so politically correct.
 

MonkeyNuts!

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Perhaps I wasn't clear...

I appreciate that these are all standard ethics questions, but these questions were followed by the interviewer taking a very strong opinion:

" medicinal marijuana is just an excuse for drug users trying to legalize their drugs... " "physican assissted suicide is wrong, I would not do it and I fear that VA may consider making something like this legal since the federal government won't stop the states from inacting laws like Oregon's...." "researchers haven't looked for other ways we can get stem cells, all they care about is using human embryos...." "doctors want to clone human beings just to gain notariety and fame"

He also criticized my background in technology, saying he had no use for a computer, and said he though "myspace" (I told him I had a page there) was just for internet stalkers trying to prey on little kids.

I have Catholic friends that are very open-minded. I didn't mean to offend anyone by saying he was a conservative Catholic, and I'm sorry if I did.

But these were NOT standard ethics questions, I'm sorry.

Now, if anyone else would like to offer me some constructive advice, without attacking me or calling me a whiner, I would appreciate it. But please, this process is difficult enough, I don't need others tearing me down for being concerned about how this went.

At one interview, I got questions about abortion, treating Muslim women, lying to HMOs, stem cells, Jehovah's Witnesses. I gave my opinion and they gave theirs. As long as they are not trying to IMPOSE their beliefs on you, there is nothing wrong with a line of questioning followed by their opinion, no matter how strong it is.

It is impossible to tell what he was testing you on. Showing initiative and educating yourself on these issues? Performance under pressure? Response to strong opposing opinions? Ability to hold an intellectual conversation? The only thing you can do is prepare yourself if you don't know too much about bioethics/healthcare and keep your composure during interviews. Doesn't sound like the interviewer was forcing his opinions on you, or trying to get you to say he was right and you were wrong. You said he was cordial and that you felt you did fine. Those are real feelings and observations. Guessing at his intentions is not. Go with your gut.
 
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swimmy

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Nothing about those questions are inappropriate, they are common ethical questions asked of interviewees. Perhaps you had more than the usual number of these questions, but they are not inappropriate to ask. The interviewer has every right to back you into a corner and have you defend your position. Perhaps he was just playing devil's advocate to see how you handle yourself. He is correct in that his generation is handing over the reigns -- I don't see anything inappropriate about stating that.

The odds of drawing an interviewer that agrees with all of your social and political views are pretty small. I would ride it out. If you feel you have to call and make a stink that you disagreed about some topics but that he was otherwise a very professional interviewer, go ahead. From the info you've given, I think that would only hurt your application.

:thumbup: I agree
 

crstabel

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after mulling it over, i think that the right response is to bite my tounge...

However, i do still think that it is not approprate to judge someone's personal moral beliefs as opposed to simply their knowledge of issues or capacity to articulate a well-thought-out opinion. If the roles were reversed, I would not feel right about doing the same thing to someone else...
 

DrBowtie

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You have 3 options according to my business comm textbook:
1) Reply guiding the question towards something you want to talk about.
2) Reply that you are uncomfortable with the question and won't provide an answer.
3) Immediately end the interview. (Then seek out the dean)
 

ExtremeUnderdog

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To the OP: I was one of the posters who used the word "whining", so I want to clarify that it was not meant as an attack on you, neither was it used as an adjective to describe you as a person, it was used to describe the potential action of talking/writing to the dean (which you have already decided is not the best idea). We gave our responses based on the initial message you posted, but you read them in the context of a much larger picture, which you revealed a bit more to us only in your follow-up post, so please don't get upset with those of us who gave you an honest opinion based on the facts available to us. :)

To help put this in context I would like to direct you to the following article in the last week's New England Journal:
Curlin, FA et al. Religion, Conscience, and Controversial Clinical Practices. NEJM 2007;356:593-600.
Link (you may need a subscription to open it, but the abstract should be available on medline): http://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/full/356/6/593

Personal values do play a role in the practice of medicine, so it should come as no surprise that one's beliefs may come into question in the interview process. In an ideal world this should not be the case, but we do not live in that ideal world.
 

Tired Pigeon

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Unless an interviewer asks a clearly illegal question (e.g., what is your religion?) or blatantly crosses the line of inappropriateness (e.g, propositions you during the interview), you don't really have a leg to stand on with your complaint. Interviews can sometimes be uncomfortable situations. Sometimes you draw an interviewer that just rubs you the wrong way. Sometimes they try to make you super uncomfortable just to see how you react. We can debate all day about the utility of these interview techniques, but unless something happened that was completely and unequivocally over the top, don't waste your time complaining about it. I'm not saying you're a whiner, but that's how you will come off if you complain about it.
 

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Hi there-

I interviewed at VCU yesterday, and my interviewer was a very old, very conservative Catholic surgeon. Nearly the entire interview (at an hour and one half) consisted of charged ethics questions that were clearly NOT intended to see if I had thought about the issue and instead targeted to see if my views were consistant with his.

The questions included:
Medicinal marajuana, Stem Cell research, physician assisted suicide (end of life), cloning, etc.

My views are varied, but tend to fall on the side of logic as opposed to spiritual or religious beliefs. I tried to answer diplomaticlly and respectfully as possible, but it was clear that he did not agree with some of my positions.

At one point he said, "I ask these kinds of questions because my generation is handing the reigns over to you and your peers...". If that didn't make it clear that he was judging me according to my personal beliefs, I don't know what would.

Other than our obvious disagreement, I thought the interviewer was cordial and that I handled the interview well... but I couldn't help but feel worried that my personal beliefs were on trial.:(

I would normally not say anything, but VCU only has one interview so there is no one to offset his view of me as a candidate. Do I call the Dean? What would you do???
Ah....the "inappropriate because I didn't have a good answer or I made myself look like a fool" category of questions...... :rolleyes:

Proper recourse? Just remember:
FairBaby.jpg
 

Sailing Girl

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crstabel,
I was placed in a similar position as you during my interview and the topics discussed/asked were definately a "no-no" per human resource guidelines. I was asked about my age, financial status, marriage and pregnancy, religion, thoughts on homosexuality, and my political position. I've been in the business world for many years and have interviewed people myself, so I knew that my interviewer was stepping on thin ice. None of the questions were relevant to my success in medical school.

After much thought, I made an appointment with the dean of admissions and talked to him about the interview. It was to clarify if I had misunderstood my interviewer and to learn if medical school interviews followed the same guidelines as traditional business interviews. It was a good discussion. Turns out my interviewer has a strange sense of humor and I just didn't get his humor. The Dean also said he would talk to the interviewer so future prospective students wouldn't feel unconfortable and leave confused. The Dean agreed that the questions in my interview were inappropriate. Last thing the Dean told me was that my interviewer had positive things to say about me during the AdComm meeting when my file was discussed.

All that to say, sometimes it is good to get clarification and make an appointment if you are still bothered about your interview. Diplomacy, tact, and open communications always makes it a win-win situation for you and the school. It's almost impossible to know what the interviewer is thinking.
 

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If you think that interview put you under pressure, wait until you have a patient coding on you and everyone is looking at you for instructions as the patient is actively dying. You'd better get used to pressure folks, because people's lives will literally depend on it.
 

MedStudentWanna

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The first answer gives your opinion with some evidence and the reason why, but it is totally not what they are looking for. The second answer shows thought, contemplation, and mature thinking without siding solidly either way. Nothing is cut and dry in the medical world, so I don't think that any practicing physician would be expecting a pre-med student to have informed, solid decisions either way.

Whoa, if you think that you're not supposed to have a solid answer on any social issues, someone has lied to you. "Seeing both sides" sounds good in theory, but med schools want people who have strong beliefs and can defend them, not someone who wants to play the safe ground and not risk offending the interviewer. Do you think they're really stupid enough to think you have no opinion on everything? Come on. They know you're just on the fence b/c you don't want to say the wrong thing and from what I've found when talking to adcoms, that's what they hate the most.
 

DrDrew

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hey....I got asked if I like boys or girls (I'm a dude)...and still got in...life's a b*tch
 
8

8744

Perhaps I wasn't clear...

I appreciate that these are all standard ethics questions, but these questions were followed by the interviewer taking a very strong opinion:

" medicinal marijuana is just an excuse for drug users trying to legalize their drugs... " "physican assissted suicide is wrong, I would not do it and I fear that VA may consider making something like this legal since the federal government won't stop the states from inacting laws like Oregon's...." "researchers haven't looked for other ways we can get stem cells, all they care about is using human embryos...." "doctors want to clone human beings just to gain notariety and fame"

He also criticized my background in technology, saying he had no use for a computer, and said he though "myspace" (I told him I had a page there) was just for internet stalkers trying to prey on little kids.

I have Catholic friends that are very open-minded. I didn't mean to offend anyone by saying he was a conservative Catholic, and I'm sorry if I did.

But these were NOT standard ethics questions, I'm sorry.

Now, if anyone else would like to offer me some constructive advice, without attacking me or calling me a whiner, I would appreciate it. But please, this process is difficult enough, I don't need others tearing me down for being concerned about how this went.

Maybe you do need to grow a pair of gonads. If you think the admission process is difficult and destructive to your ego you will probably shoot yourself in the head after a week of intern year.

Obviously, I come from a different generation than yours. We didn't get our panties in a wad when somebody expressed opinions different from ours. I bet if your interviewer was a cheese-and-cracker liberal spouting off the usual politically correct mantra you would have been enchanted.

Oh my. A physicians (and a surgeon, no less) had some strong opinions? Katie bar the mother-****ing door! How about you defend your opinions instead of withdrawing into the fetal position?

Ooh. Aahhh. You have a Myspace page? Well stop the friggin' presses.
 

DropkickMurphy

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Maybe you do need to grow a pair of gonads. If you think the admission process is difficult and destructive to your ego you will probably shoot yourself in the head after a week of intern year.

Obviously, I come from a different generation than yours. We didn't get our panties in a wad when somebody expressed opinions different from ours. I bet if your interviewer was a cheese-and-cracker liberal spouting off the usual politically correct mantra you would have been enchanted.

Oh my. A physicians (and a surgeon, no less) had some strong opinions? Katie bar the mother-****ing door! How about you defend your opinions instead of withdrawing into the fetal position?

Ooh. Aahhh. You have a Myspace page? Well stop the friggin' presses.
:laugh: :laugh: :laugh:
 

shaggybill

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Maybe you do need to grow a pair of gonads. If you think the admission process is difficult and destructive to your ego you will probably shoot yourself in the head after a week of intern year.

Obviously, I come from a different generation than yours. We didn't get our panties in a wad when somebody expressed opinions different from ours. I bet if your interviewer was a cheese-and-cracker liberal spouting off the usual politically correct mantra you would have been enchanted.

Oh my. A physicians (and a surgeon, no less) had some strong opinions? Katie bar the mother-****ing door! How about you defend your opinions instead of withdrawing into the fetal position?

Ooh. Aahhh. You have a Myspace page? Well stop the friggin' presses.


Haha! Maybe a little harsh, but definitely funny.
 

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Regardless of his (or your - I wasn't there I don't know) intentions or perceptions: if you feel you had a bad interview contact the admissions office immediately. Let them know you have concerns. All of the schools I interviewed with encouraged students to let them know if they had questions or problems with their interview. Most schools want you to have a positive experience and will reschedule you if you are unhappy with your interview. Good luck:luck:
 

JDMD243.0

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Maybe you do need to grow a pair of gonads. If you think the admission process is difficult and destructive to your ego you will probably shoot yourself in the head after a week of intern year.

Obviously, I come from a different generation than yours. We didn't get our panties in a wad when somebody expressed opinions different from ours. I bet if your interviewer was a cheese-and-cracker liberal spouting off the usual politically correct mantra you would have been enchanted.

Oh my. A physicians (and a surgeon, no less) had some strong opinions? Katie bar the mother-****ing door! How about you defend your opinions instead of withdrawing into the fetal position?

Ooh. Aahhh. You have a Myspace page? Well stop the friggin' presses.

Amen!
 
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