Med4ever

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Rumors, facts, ideas? Lets hear them. I have no idea what goes into ranking applicants post interview except a random number generator.
 

Poety

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I'd like to know too from anyone that has any insight
 

neilc

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the program lists the candidates in order of preference. if they want you, they rank you high.


sorry, couldn't resist. :p :laugh:

seriously, though, i think it is pretty easy to figure out. they look at your application, and compare notes from your interview. people discuss who would be a good fit, and make up a list. as for specific things that get you ranked higher, it would obviously vary. each interviewer likely has a different idea of what is important, and every program is likely very different as well.

i mean, if you asked every student on here what goes into ranking a program highly, you would get as many different criteria as there are replies. so, there is likely no universal answer for the programs either.
 

Poety

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I meant to ask for replies from someone who may actually have served on the recruiting committee or has been involved in the process to respond - I'm personally just interested in seeing how this whole thing really works behind the scenes. I think there are people on here that have actually participated in the match as a reviewer or served on the recruitment committee. Everything else is just speculation and/or common sense.
 

Espion

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I'm wondering as well. But I think that different programs probably have different methods, so it may be an unanswerable question.

Example: at my last interview, the attending had a calculator out. Either he was working on his math homework, or they have some goofy numerical system that they use to rank candidates.

I would also speculate that they might rank candidates per interview, as they see them. Then, well all is said and done, take their top twenty or thirty, review their interivew notes, and adjust the final rank list accordingly. But that is pure speculation.
 

BKN

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Poety said:
I meant to ask for replies from someone who may actually have served on the recruiting committee or has been involved in the process to respond - I'm personally just interested in seeing how this whole thing really works behind the scenes. I think there are people on here that have actually participated in the match as a reviewer or served on the recruitment committee. Everything else is just speculation and/or common sense.
I think it depends on how the individual P.D. wishes to do it. Probably a program evolves it on the basis of the winners and losers that they've matched with. Most programs would consider each of the following important:

1. academic credentials (MLEs, grades)
2. Interpersonal skills
3. Having personal knowledge of a applicants skills from a try out rotation
4. reference from a physician that the PD personally knows and trusts
5. Interview results

In addition individual places might consider geography, public service, research and other things.

As for the goofy numerical system, how else will you get agreement out of 100+ interviewees? In my place we make a provisional list from the numbers and then have a match party where each interviewer can make a pitch to move their favorites up and their concerns down.

Things change:
1. over twenty years we started by emphasizing academic ceredentials, moved to the nice guys and gals and now we are swinging back again.

Hope this helps,
bkn PD
 

Poety

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Thanks BKN! You're the only PD that ever posts here :) And its so appreciated!!!

Hope my *sparkling* :) personality can outweigh some of those accompanying numbers :oops:
 

Espion

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BKN said:
As for the goofy numerical system, how else will you get agreement out of 100+ interviewees? In my place we make a provisional list from the numbers and then have a match party where each interviewer can make a pitch to move their favorites up and their concerns down.
That is what I figured. In the end, numbers are a much more objective means of measurement. If they weren't, then I guess we'd have gotten rid of standardized tests a long time ago and replaced them with "agree, kind of agree, sort of agree, strongly agree"...heh

At this point, I don't envy anyone who has to make these decisions. For right now I'm content to be on this side of the doorway imagining the possibilities and making them happen.
 

asdfaa

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BKN said:
In my place we make a provisional list from the numbers and then have a match party where each interviewer can make a pitch to move their favorites up and their concerns down.

I wonder, does the program director's "pitch" blow all other "pitches" out of the water? Let's say you have three interviews. Two interviewers like you a lot but the PD isn't so fond. Are you hosed?
 

BKN

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asdfaa said:
I wonder, does the program director's "pitch" blow all other "pitches" out of the water? Let's say you have three interviews. Two interviewers like you a lot but the PD isn't so fond. Are you hosed?
Well this is one I'm not going to enjoy. First, I described our process in some detail (perhaps more than I should) as an example. That doesn't mean others do it the same way.

Again, it's probably individual by program and by the PDs mood that day. Ultimately, the ACGME requires the the PD have total authority over the program. That's for your protection. It makes him accountable and it discourages the institution from using you for pure service. So yes the PD could do that.

Here's the part that's going to make you paranoid. :eek: At our place we assume every candidate is on their best behavior. Thus a significant interpersonal problem with any interviewer may be a red flag. Thus if a single interviewer wants to black ball, they can. :thumbdown: We always discuss it. Probably happens less than once a year. :thumbup:
 

Koil Gugliemi

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From what I've seen it can go both ways, sure you could be black balled by one person, or if one person is super hot for you they could argue you up the list substantially.

So number system is good. People who know and like you are better.

KG
 

Poety

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Ok, I'm confused about this number system. Do you mean the scores? Like you take all the applicants, invite for interview, then after interviews just take the grades/scores and the highest get ranked?

Is this whole process based on a numerical system worked out with grades and scores? YiKeS!
 

BKN

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Poety said:
Ok, I'm confused about this number system. Do you mean the scores? Like you take all the applicants, invite for interview, then after interviews just take the grades/scores and the highest get ranked?

Is this whole process based on a numerical system worked out with grades and scores? YiKeS!
No. I score the interviews, LORs, Dean's letters, MLEs, and transcripts. I standardize the interviewers so that those who meet with a tougher interviewer are not at a disadvantage. We also look at interrater reliability (Cronbach's alpha = .73 last year). We then weight the variables according to a secret formula, make a linear combination and standardize again. We then rank the applicants and that makes our provisional list. Then we talk. :sleep:

I know it's clear now. :wow: Anyway, that's all I'm going to say about my shop. Aren't you glad you asked?

By the way, did I mention I've got a master's in research and stats?
 

ears

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BKN, I think it's great that you're revealing some of how the process works from the inside. One of the most stressful things about the match process is how vague and opaque and oblique everything is. Your explanations (even the last attempt to semi-obfuscate :D ) are much appreciated, I'm sure.

May I ask why you are reluctant to share details of the process? Are you afraid of applicants "gaming" your system? Or is it something else?
 

Poety

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:laugh:
BKN said:
No. I score the interviews, LORs, Dean's letters, MLEs, and transcripts. I standardize the interviewers so that those who meet with a tougher interviewer are not at a disadvantage. We also look at interrater reliability (Cronbach's alpha = .73 last year). We then weight the variables according to a secret formula, make a linear combination and standardize again. We then rank the applicants and that makes our provisional list. Then we talk. :sleep:

I know it's clear now. :wow: Anyway, that's all I'm going to say about my shop. Aren't you glad you asked?

By the way, did I mention I've got a master's in research and stats?

Wow, I'm impressed! Be careful about what you say BKN, if for instance you say "second looks are a great idea" you WILL end up with 100 applicants coming back this season :laugh: :laugh:

I feel the need to be in on the whole secret - I'm very curious - perhaps in my residency I'll get a chance to go behind the scenes to see what makes the clock tick :oops:
 

mucha

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The PD is "Program's Divinity", the guru, the ultimate ranker for us paranoid students :laugh:
 

BKN

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ears said:
.

May I ask why you are reluctant to share details of the process? Are you afraid of applicants "gaming" your system? Or is it something else?
I'm not much worried about apllicants gaming. I expect you applicants to tell me what I want to hear. What choice have you? The interview process may be a learning process helping you to inculcate the values we look for. That's a good thing.

I'm trying to make the system, which is full of subjective values (interpersonal skills, initiative, leadership etc) as reliable as possible. I use the word reliable in the statistician's sense. That is where there is no gold standard, can you create a scale that two independent observers would get more or less the same value on the same subject.

Part of the reason I don't want to go further into our mechanics, is that they are probably only applicable to my shop. I don't want you to overgeneralize my thinking. For your purposes as an applicant, you just need to know that most places will be looking at the same qualities. They probably won't be as numeric in their approach.

The other part is that I'm really not interested in getting into an endless argument over the relative weights (interviews vs dean's letters vs scores ad nauseum).
 

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BKN said:
Well this is one I'm not going to enjoy. First, I described our process in some detail (perhaps more than I should) as an example. That doesn't mean others do it the same way.

Again, it's probably individual by program and by the PDs mood that day. Ultimately, the ACGME requires the the PD have total authority over the program. That's for your protection. It makes him accountable and it discourages the institution from using you for pure service. So yes the PD could do that.

Here's the part that's going to make you paranoid. :eek: At our place we assume every candidate is on their best behavior. Thus a significant interpersonal problem with any interviewer may be a red flag. Thus if a single interviewer wants to black ball, they can. :thumbdown: We always discuss it. Probably happens less than once a year. :thumbup:

Thank you, BKN for answering my question. I'm wondering if you could clear up another matter that I'm curious about. When assigning ranks, do PD's take into account how likely they think the candidate is to choose their program. I mean, other than on the basis of the candidate's declared intent. For example, consider someone from a big name medschool interviewing at a community program. Is the PD likely to assume that it's less likely that the candidate will rank the community program highly and therefore rank the candidate lower. I know that's a convoluted and hypothetical question, but I'd appreciate it much if you'd give it a shot. I'm from a big name place looking for a community program, in case you couldn't have guessed.
 

orientedtoself

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asdfaa said:
When assigning ranks, do PD's take into account how likely they think the candidate is to choose their program.
Any answer to this question has serious potential to mess with people's heads. If BKN says yes, then people will be questioning their ROL's, possibly not ranking in order of preference, thinking about where the programs are ranking them based on what the program thinks they are thinking. If BKN says no, we will doubt his answer.
 

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orientedtoself said:
Any answer to this question has serious potential to mess with people's heads. If BKN says yes, then people will be questioning their ROL's, possibly not ranking in order of preference, thinking about where the programs are ranking them based on what the program thinks they are thinking. If BKN says no, we will doubt his answer.
Oh goody! I think I'll say yes and no!

I have in fact heard it done both ways by other PDs. The thinking is:

1. Any PD wants his residents to be happy to be where they are.
2. Every PD has had the experience of not matching an applicant who was above the PDs bottom match and who had said that the program was his first choice. Most of us have had this experience many times.

I don't think there is any harm in telling a PD that you really want to match with him. It's likely that while being polite, he'll be a little cynical.You can't force the match; neither can he. The maximum happiness for everyone probably comes from both sides ranking honestly.

As for the big name grad going to a community program, I'd totally believe it.
I'm from a big name school and a bigger name residency. I'm at a smaller Univ hospital which I love and believe we are doing a better job than the big places. Of course that's just me and everybody knows I'm delusional.

My residency coordinator just went through. It was our third interview day and she wants it to be over.
 

misfit

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Many people will give you varying ideas on how applicants for residency are ranked, but here is the dirty truth:

It is NOT one factor, but a combination of factors such as...

1) Smile

2) The talent portion

And most importantly...

3) THE SWIMSUIT COMPETITION!









Lighten up, everyone ;)

misfit
 

AngryTesticle

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At my pathology program, we have received numerous outstanding applications that look great ON PAPER. Some of them come through for away rotations or interviewed and if they're not cool, they get dinged. That will get you ranked low. Last year, my program went down 20 to fill our 10 positions and so, according to the PGY2's and up in our program (I'm just a mere PGY1 noobie), getting dinged can have serious impact on your chances of matching.

Overall, I think strong stats can make it easy to get your foot in the door (i.e., get the interview offer). However, there are lots of things the residents and faculty with whom you meet can pick up on and can influence your ranking for better or for worse.

Conversely, if you have not so strong stats but interview very well and people think that you are a great fit for the program and you're easy to work with, then you will be bumped up pretty far on the rank list.

Morale: Kick ass during your interview. Don't be obnoxious. Don't come across as entitled. Even if you are God's gift to the earth, don't show that.
 

G'ville Nole

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AngryTesticle said:
Conversely, if you have not so strong stats but interview very well and people think that you are a great fit for the program and you're easy to work with, then you will be bumped up pretty far on the rank list.
Absolutely agree with this. GPA, AOA, USMLE etc. may get you in the door for an interview, but my impression in talking to fellow residents and attendings here is that the nebulous term "good fit" takes on a significant degree of importance when coming up with the final ROL.

<<Some of them come through for away rotations or interviewed and if they're not cool, they get dinged. That will get you ranked low. . .getting dinged can have serious impact on your chances of matching.>>

Also an important point. We've had several students come through on extern rotations, and we as residents DO talk, and pretty much have a "rough ROL" based on how well we think these individuals would fit in with our program. Not to say that these individuals are not all extremely intelligent and talented (which I think they are), but the ones in the lower echelon in terms of "good fit" are not likely to match here.

I guess the thing I'm getting at is that this "good fit" concept is important, and more importantly, it works both ways. You as an applicant will likely know when you're hitting it off with a particular group of residents or faculty just as much as they will know. These impressions definitely played a role in how I assembled my ROL, and I was lucky enough to match into a place where I now feel very much at home and happy.

BTW, I think the swimsuit competition is important too. I had to stuff, but it all worked out OK. :laugh:

Just my $0.02
 

asdfaa

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BKN said:
Oh goody! I think I'll say yes and no!

I have in fact heard it done both ways by other PDs. The thinking is:

1. Any PD wants his residents to be happy to be where they are.
2. Every PD has had the experience of not matching an applicant who was above the PDs bottom match and who had said that the program was his first choice. Most of us have had this experience many times.

I don't think there is any harm in telling a PD that you really want to match with him. It's likely that while being polite, he'll be a little cynical.You can't force the match; neither can he. The maximum happiness for everyone probably comes from both sides ranking honestly.

As for the big name grad going to a community program, I'd totally believe it.
I'm from a big name school and a bigger name residency. I'm at a smaller Univ hospital which I love and believe we are doing a better job than the big places. Of course that's just me and everybody knows I'm delusional.

My residency coordinator just went through. It was our third interview day and she wants it to be over.
Thanks. :cool:
 

deuist

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The American Association of Emergency Medicine prints a book entitled Rules of the Road that goes into detail about how residency programs rank applicants (for EM, at least). The top factors were:

1. EM rotation grade
2. Interview
3. Clinical grades
4. Other (e.g., prior training, leadership)
5. Recommendations
6. Grades overall
7. Elective work
8. Boards overall
9. USMLE Step II
10. Interest expressed (e.g., research within EM)
11. USMLE Step I
12. Awards
13. AOA
14. Medical school attended
15. extracurriculars
16. Basic science grades
17. Publications
18. Personal statement
 

Methyldopa

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deuist said:
The American Association of Emergency Medicine prints a book entitled Rules of the Road that goes into detail about how residency programs rank applicants (for EM, at least). The top factors were:

1. EM rotation grade
2. Interview
3. Clinical grades
4. Other (e.g., prior training, leadership)
5. Recommendations
6. Grades overall
7. Elective work
8. Boards overall
9. USMLE Step II
10. Interest expressed (e.g., research within EM)
11. USMLE Step I
12. Awards
13. AOA
14. Medical school attended
15. extracurriculars
16. Basic science grades
17. Publications
18. Personal statement

Interesting list. I'm suprised to see personal statement so low!

I think the stuff that gets you an interview are your clinical grade in the field you're going into, your clinical grades in related fields, and the rest of your third year grades. Then probably USMLE (depending on the field) and LOR's.
 

BKN

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Interesting list. I'm suprised to see personal statement so low!

.
Believe me if you had read about 300 of them, you wouldn't be surprised! :rolleyes:
 

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Makes sense - you want a good clinician and a nice person. Rotation evals tell you if the person is a good clinician. Interviews give you an idea of whether they are a nice person.
 

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misfit said:
Many people will give you varying ideas on how applicants for residency are ranked, but here is the dirty truth:

It is NOT one factor, but a combination of factors such as...

1) Smile

2) The talent portion

And most importantly...

3) THE SWIMSUIT COMPETITION!

Re: Talent

Better to do a nice, well known ballad, say Danny Boy, or an up tempo pop song like YMCA?

As for the swimsuit competiton, it does make me feel cheap, but I do love the feel of silk in a psych. ward in the afternoon. BTW, Panda Bear I bet you totally rocked the swimsuit competition. :thumbup:
 

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The 'interview' includes the entire visit, as well as all interactions with staff. It is not just the ~20 minutes of scheduled face time. From the perspective of someone who interviews applicants, my experiences/opinions are apparently far different than yours. You greatly underestimate our ability to assess medical students.

mlh25 said:
In my experience (9 interviews in) just about anyone on a good day can BS an interview. I mean, interviews are only max 20 min (surg subspec). You'd have to be pretty dsyfunctional not to behave for 20 min. I think the interview is important but most interviewers seem to have a pre-conceived notion about the candidate from their application. If your application is good, it's really up to you to screw things up. Most people behave as if they want to like you. It's not like you walk into the room with a complete blank-slate after getting an interview.

Most doctors are not very skilled at job interviews and most medical students have had plentty of experiences BS'ing through standardized patients etc.. I think that the interview is really pretty useless unless you have big wholes in your application that need a lot of explanation (which by the way is not the way to put together an application, in case someone hasn't realized this yet.)
 

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BKN said:
My experience is about 900 resident applicants and 200,000 patient interviews. I'm with Prefontaine on this one. You may not be aware of how you're doing. You also don't seem to be aware that a clinician's first and most important job is interviews.

Certainly, I want to like every applicant. When I don't, I'm certainly not going to tell them.

Most of the posters on this forum seem excessively worried. You don't seem worried enough. Unless you're just covering it with bravado.

;)

Thanks for the helpful posts. I was wondering if you have any suggestions about a preferred method of thanking the interviewers - handwritten thank you card vs typewritten letter). Thanks for any suggestions.
 

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Of course (most) interviewers know which questions are 'off limits,' but that does not stop them from asking and influencing decisions. The opposite is probably true, they know exactly what they are doing and that they can get away with it. I do not approve of it, but am aware that it happens.


mlh25 said:
Why exactly should I be worried? Maybe I would if I had something to hide but I really don't. So in effort to make this less personal... I understand that clinicians are trained at "interviewering" but assessing someone's professional qualifications for a job is not the same thing. Not even close. For example, do you even know or understand why certain questions are off limits /illegal? I can't even tell you how often I am asked these questions. As someone who in a different life had a different career, I can tell you that this would not stand in any other profession. Not that I mind answering these questions myself but it just goes to show that most clinicians/ academics have no idea what they are doing.

I'm curious why you are seeking to scare everyone on this forum. Isn't the point to find the candidate that "fits" the best with the program? If you're asking me personally, I think I've done pretty well in interviews just being myself, and so will most everyone else. I'm not exactly sure why you want candidates to be anything but themselves.

If you ask me, you're the one with too much bravado
 

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If your handwriting is legible, that's the traditional way. If not, I think it's a kindness to type it.
 

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Hey BKN and prefontaine (or anyone else who is in the "know"), are MOST applicants on a level playing field when they get to the interview. What I mean is... once you get an interview, are you just as likely as the next to get ranked highly if you fit well and have a good personality? Or will you always have that less than impressive grade or board score or whatever holding you back? I have heard it is all even at the interview but I don't know whether it is backed by experience. And I know it varies from place to place, but just looking for your thoughts.

Thanks.
 

AngryTesticle

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Yes and no. Your application is a composite of many factors, of which the interview is only one factor. The interview can make or break you. If people who meet you like you, then you are seen favorably. If you act like an ass and come across as feeling entitled, then people can and will pick up on this and you get dinged.

Although I have not had the extensive experience with respect to interviewing and evaluating people, I have been in this position several times already as a first year resident. We do, in fact, evaluate applicants over lunch (which I think is wrong but that's just the way it works). The day prior to the interview, we receive the applicant's entire file in our mailbox so that we can review them.

If I were to say that the interview always trumps the credentials on paper and all interviewees were on a perfectly level playing field, I would by lying. The interview comprises one aspect, albeit a very important aspect, of one's overall application. When we fill out the evaluation after the lunch, we not only add narrative comments but also have to rate the applicant from 1-5 (1 being the best and 5 being the worst).

Our program gets quite a few MD/PhD applications and those are the applicants I tend to go out to lunch with. Basically, for these, I initially target certain areas of the application (in no particular order or importance):
(1) Where is the person coming from?*
(2) Who's lab did the person work in?*
(3) The letter of recommendation from the PhD mentor (and basically here, I'm looking for the phrase, "this is the best graduate student i've had..."
(4) Number of publications overall, number of first-author publications, and which journals they were published in.
(5) I glance at the Step 1 score but I really don't care about this because people who do well on this test tend to be good test-takers anyway...and that's a different skill in and of itself. Usually, I'm OK with scores above 220.
(6) Dean's Letter - focusing on rotation comments to see if the person is likely to be cool or be a dick (here you have to read between the lines).

(*This is mainly for curiosity's sake. This doesn't affect my evaluation of the person. I just want to see if I recognize that person's work and mentor and that would provide even more fodder for conversation.)

Then of course, I read the rest of the letters, CV, and transcript.

By that point, I have already assigned a numerical score for the applicant. Usually that number is a two since we've gotten some really good applications. During the interview, the score stays the same or goes up or down.

Interviews are SUBJECTIVE. Everyone does it differently.
 

AngryTesticle

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trkd said:
are you just as likely as the next to get ranked highly if you fit well and have a good personality? Or will you always have that less than impressive grade or board score or whatever holding you back?
One more thing...it amazes me as to how much I didn't know about my program when I came to interview here. I had to take a step back to think and realize that based on a one-day interview (or even a half-day interview), it is so very difficult to form solid and accurate impressions of a place as an applicant. Now, let's flip the looking glass in the other direction and look from the perspectives of those who are in the position of choosing one candidate over another. I can imagine that here too it can be hard to accurately evaluate an applicant. Frequently, the interviewer/evaluator forms some impressions but probably has to fall back on the documented paper application.

Anyways, those are my thoughts considering that I'm not a seasoned veteran in this whatsoever. I'm curious as to what others, with more experience, have learned over the years.
 

chicamedica

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Is it bad form to ask residents at lunch about what they thought of other programs? I did so more to find out what fine points they liked in this program over the others they considered, but thinking back I can see how such questions might come across the wrong way.

How about asking faculty about how their program compares to another one I'm considering? Not too sure how that comes across. . .
 

AngryTesticle

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chicamedica said:
Is it bad form to ask residents at lunch about what they thought of other programs? I did so more to find out what fine points they liked in this program over the others they considered, but thinking back I can see how such questions might come across the wrong way.

How about asking faculty about how their program compares to another one I'm considering? Not too sure how that comes across. . .
I think it's fair game to ask residents during lunch questions like, "What other places were you looking at?" That is a pretty harmless question and is not considered poor form. I am very honest when I tell people why I chose my program and I don't trash talk other programs during lunch...that I do think is poor form because different programs have different strengths that cater to different kinds of people.

Asking faculty...that's a little dicey. Usually during the interview, you will get the question, "So what other places have you applied to?" That can start the discussion and you can feel free to ask the question, "What are some of the distinctive features of the program compared to the other programs I've applied to?" Of course, any social common sense would deter you from asking questions like, "Does this program suck compared to yours. Or which programs make you look like suck?"
 

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Just to take a litte bit of a turn in the current thread, does anyone know if having your interview at the end of January (practically the end of interview season) has any affect on how residency programs rank you? Presumably, I would think programs/PDs generally wait until they have interviewed all applicants before generating their list. But is this what truly happens?
 

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Hey BKN and prefontaine (or anyone else who is in the "know"), are MOST applicants on a level playing field when they get to the interview. What I mean is... once you get an interview, are you just as likely as the next to get ranked highly if you fit well and have a good personality? Or will you always have that less than impressive grade or board score or whatever holding you back? I have heard it is all even at the interview but I don't know whether it is backed by experience. And I know it varies from place to place, but just looking for your thoughts.

Thanks.
Not usually. There are places that make it even. Then they start having to explain to their residency review committee why their graduates have a higher failure rate than the national average.

MLE scores are correlated with inservice scores which are correlated with board passage. The real question is whether a place treats everyone who is not an academic risk as equal. (Say mle or COMLEX > 80)

See my posts in this thread (6, 13, 17) for further details.
 

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FOREAL said:
Just to take a litte bit of a turn in the current thread, does anyone know if having your interview at the end of January (practically the end of interview season) has any affect on how residency programs rank you? Presumably, I would think programs/PDs generally wait until they have interviewed all applicants before generating their list. But is this what truly happens?
As always, I'm only speaking for my place. We do our list after all the interviews.

As for effect of when you interview. The official answer will always be that it's not important. Practically speaking, the more recent the experience, the easier it is to remember. If you interview early, reinforce with your thank you note soon after the interview and send a little e-mail to your top choices right before rank time. ;)
 

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chicamedica said:
Is it bad form to ask residents at lunch about what they thought of other programs? I did so more to find out what fine points they liked in this program over the others they considered, but thinking back I can see how such questions might come across the wrong way.

How about asking faculty about how their program compares to another one I'm considering? Not too sure how that comes across. . .
I'm with AT on this. Gossiping with residents about their interview experiences might be OK. Don't do it with faculty.

In either case, don't run down another place yourself. :)
 

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BKN said:
I'm with AT on this. Gossiping with residents about their interview experiences might be OK. Don't do it with faculty.

In either case, don't run down another place yourself. :)
To add to this, one of the few programs I didn't rank when I was interviewing was a (nationally known, highly regarded) program where the residents talked crap about another (nationally known, highly regarded) program. It's poor form, and makes you look less than classy. If I was chit-chatting with a candidate, and they talked crap about another program, it'd leave a sour taste in my mouth. I'd rather hear platitudes than negative stuff.

I always felt awkward when people asked me "where else did you like" but I think the residents are truly trying to make conversation, and it's not a loaded question for most people.
 

AngryTesticle

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blue2000 said:
To add to this, one of the few programs I didn't rank when I was interviewing was a (nationally known, highly regarded) program where the residents talked crap about another (nationally known, highly regarded) program. It's poor form, and makes you look less than classy. If I was chit-chatting with a candidate, and they talked crap about another program, it'd leave a sour taste in my mouth. I'd rather hear platitudes than negative stuff.
I wouldn't be surprised if the two institutions you speak of are MGH and the Brigham. I have heard too many stories like this (I'm at the Brigham). The "rivalry" between these two institutions can be kinda like some juvenile sibling rivalry/pissing contest. I agree it is extremely poor form.
I always felt awkward when people asked me "where else did you like" but I think the residents are truly trying to make conversation, and it's not a loaded question for most people.
Yeah, that kinda is a loaded question. I know you've gone through this already and this is really for those who are interviewing now...a good way to answer the question is to highlight some of the things you liked at each program you visited. This is a great way to flip the conversation onto the interviewer's court as you can then ask if things are done similarly or differently at that particular institution.
 

chicamedica

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AngryTesticle said:
I wouldn't be surprised if the two institutions you speak of are MGH and the Brigham. I have heard too many stories like this (I'm at the Brigham). The "rivalry" between these two institutions can be kinda like some juvenile sibling rivalry/pissing contest. I agree it is extremely poor form.

Yeah, that kinda is a loaded question. I know you've gone through this already and this is really for those who are interviewing now...a good way to answer the question is to highlight some of the things you liked at each program you visited. This is a great way to flip the conversation onto the interviewer's court as you can then ask if things are done similarly or differently at that particular institution.
but then wouldn't the program think you'd rather go to the other program and as a result not rank you as high? That's kinda what i feel is the reason behind interviewers (and secretaries) asking me what other programs are my top choices. I've been responding truthfully so far, but i'm starting to think maybe I should be holding my tongue as far as these questions go (at least when I'm at my top programs). Or this an unwarranted concern?
 

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chicamedica said:
but then wouldn't the program think you'd rather go to the other program and as a result not rank you as high? That's kinda what i feel is the reason behind interviewers (and secretaries) asking me what other programs are my top choices. I've been responding truthfully so far, but i'm starting to think maybe I should be holding my tongue as far as these questions go (at least when I'm at my top programs). Or this an unwarranted concern?
Not necessarily. You're allowed to compliment certain aspects of other programs. But don't do it in an emotional manner. Don't be like, "Oh I loved how program X does this and that." No. Instead, be like, "I thought it was interesting that program Y focuses on this aspect of training and that program Z focused on that aspect of training." The goal is to come across as objective but not pejorative at the same time.

Going through the interviews is like an art. Your goal is to convince every program that you like them so that they will rank you high. You kind of have to be a good bullsh*t artist especially at programs you know you're gonna rank low. Yeah, it kinda is manipulative but at this point, screw the programs. You gots to look out for your best interests even if it will be at the expense of the programs' interests.

My personal experience was kinda like this. I knew which 4 programs I was going to rank in the top 4, right from the get-go. I interviewed at these 4 programs back-to-back-to-back-to-back. At each, I was inevitably asked which other programs I was considering highly. Given my application, it was pretty obvious and so when I honestly mentioned these 4 programs, they weren't surprised. Of course, I qualified things by saying "Yeah, it's gonna be a hard decision and I don't know how I'm gonna rank places and blah blah blah (which was total BS cuz I knew exactly how I would rank them)." And that was good because that gave them the opportunity to make the case as to why they should be #1 on my list. The ball was in their court. The pressure was off my chest. So for me it was good to be honest at my top choices.

Now for the other 8 places I interviewed at...well, that's where the bullsh*tting came in. One program kept calling me and sending me flowers and coupons for the local strip club and I kept making a convincing case about how I would rank them "highly". Yeah, I ranked them 10th. See, that's how things are done...that's what you gotta do. Yeah, it's evil. But look, they don't know where you ranked them. At the end of the day, all they know is where you ended up matching. So if they ever call you on your bullsh*t, you can always tell them that you ranked them #2 and you got your top choice. And they will never know.

Addendum: Ok, so the program asks you which programs you are considering highly, right? Here's an easy way to answer the question. Let's say you know what your top 3 choices are. Your answer is, "Well so far, although nothing is final, my top FOUR choices will probably be (in no particular order): X, your institution, Y, and Z." Bam! There ya have it! Notice how you insert the institution in question somewhere in the middle and not last.
 

chicamedica

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AngryTesticle said:
Not necessarily. You're allowed to compliment certain aspects of other programs. But don't do it in an emotional manner. Don't be like, "Oh I loved how program X does this and that." No. Instead, be like, "I thought it was interesting that program Y focuses on this aspect of training and that program Z focused on that aspect of training." The goal is to come across as objective but not pejorative at the same time.

Going through the interviews is like an art. Your goal is to convince every program that you like them so that they will rank you high. You kind of have to be a good bullsh*t artist especially at programs you know you're gonna rank low. Yeah, it kinda is manipulative but at this point, screw the programs. You gots to look out for your best interests even if it will be at the expense of the programs' interests.

My personal experience was kinda like this. I knew which 4 programs I was going to rank in the top 4, right from the get-go. I interviewed at these 4 programs back-to-back-to-back-to-back. At each, I was inevitably asked which other programs I was considering highly. Given my application, it was pretty obvious and so when I honestly mentioned these 4 programs, they weren't surprised. Of course, I qualified things by saying "Yeah, it's gonna be a hard decision and I don't know how I'm gonna rank places and blah blah blah (which was total BS cuz I knew exactly how I would rank them)." And that was good because that gave them the opportunity to make the case as to why they should be #1 on my list. The ball was in their court. The pressure was off my chest. So for me it was good to be honest at my top choices.

That's pretty much the boat i'm in. I know for sure my top 3-4 choices, however, unlike you I really have no idea what order they're gonna be. To complicate matters, I did an away rotation at one of them, but not the others. I really enjoyed it and it seems to be a great fit for me. Regarding the other 3 programs, however, seeing as certain programs put only their best foot forward on interview day, getting to know them only from a half-a-day of interviews, or even a day or 2 extra on a 2nd look, isnt gonna quite show me as much as having seen a program more or less inside and out during a whole month and i can't really trust that I will have an accurate picture of these other programs. I now understand why programs prefer taking residents whom they know (whether from a visiting elective or a med school rotation). Anyway, this situation is tormenting me quite a bit lately. I hope things will get much clearer as interviews pass.
 

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BKN, AngryTesticle:
Recently interviewed at a souteast program. After the interview they said that they will rank me. I may be nitpicking here but does that mean I am assured to match there if I rank them at the top of my list?

They may have 5 seats and choose to rank 10 students. I may be ranked #8 and may still not match with them unless 3 higher ranked ones choose to go somewhere else?
 

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dodo2 said:
BKN, AngryTesticle:
Recently interviewed at a souteast program. After the interview they said that they will rank me. I may be nitpicking here but does that mean I am assured to match there if I rank them at the top of my list?

They may have 5 seats and choose to rank 10 students. I may be ranked #8 and may still not match with them unless 3 higher ranked ones choose to go somewhere else?
In a word, no. As always, I'm speaking for my shop. other places may do it differently. I have some idea how far down our list we will go to fill, but it can vary considerably year to year. I said earlier that neither side can force the match. I believe the NRMP says the average successful applicant ranks about 7 programs. You may need to rank more if you are lower half of your class, have poor mles, applying to a competitive specialty. etc.The average program that fills ranks about 10 applicants per available slot. To save my time and your time and money, I offer interviews only to applicants whom I believe would be good residents. Few of our interviewees apall (sp?) us. Therefore, most get ranked. For us the interview exercise is about rank order.

I think your question is an attempt to measure "sincerity". I think that if a program says they will rank you, they like you. But just as you will see a lot of places that you like, so we see a lot of aplplicants that we like. We only get the privilege of training a few of them. In the end, how you perceive a program feels about you should not affect your list as much as how you feel about the program.

Now a little old fogey grumble. :mad: This was all much easier, cheaper and less time-consuming when apps were on paper and applicants had to fill out a different one for each program. +pissed+ Nobody had the patience to fill out more than a few. Each program had fewer applicants to interview and rank. Each applicant had fewer interviews to do. I think I did five. At the end everyone did about as well as today. :)

p.s. I hope most of you know that much of what you spend so much time on these forums trying to figure out is laid out in Ken Iserson's book. I noticed that reviews by students were mixed. From a PD's viewpoint, I thought it was very good.

Iserson's Getting into a Residency: A Guide for Medical Students, Sixth Edition (Paperback)
by Kenneth V. Iserson
Product Details

Paperback: 612 pages
Publisher: Galen Press; 6th edition (March, 2003)
Language: English
ISBN: 1883620309
 

AngryTesticle

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dodo2 said:
BKN, AngryTesticle:
Recently interviewed at a souteast program. After the interview they said that they will rank me. I may be nitpicking here but does that mean I am assured to match there if I rank them at the top of my list?

They may have 5 seats and choose to rank 10 students. I may be ranked #8 and may still not match with them unless 3 higher ranked ones choose to go somewhere else?
In line with what BKN said, if the program tells you, "we will rank you", then the program likes you enough to put you on its rank list. However, it does not indicate whatsoever whether you will be ranked high or dead last. If the programs rank you very highly, the rhetoric usually changes. For instance, if the program is aggressive enough to let their top candidates know about their status, they may tell them something along the lines of, "we hope you choose to train here", "we hope to see you this summer", "you are a top contender for a position in our program", "we will rank you highly", etc. However, even given this rhetoric, it does not mean you are necessarily ranked to match. Think about, a program has 10 spots and they can feed their top 50 candidates the same rhetoric...no skin off their back. They may do this to try to bump their program up on your rank list. The Match is a game. Just like how you need to convince every program that you love their program so that they will think you want to go there and will be inclined to rank you a little higher.

On the flip side, if you are ranked to match, the program may or may not tell you. It depends on how aggressive or liberal the program is. If a program is forthcoming about revealing their top 10 candidates (let's assume that they have 10 spots), they may contact those 10 people and blatantly say, "We have ranked you in our top 10; if you choose to train here, you will match here." Verbal commitments mean little however. Usually these communications are seen as more legitimate if they are followed up by a letter (personal experience). But given all of these tactics, I know of several people who have gotten completely screwed--i.e., they were told that they were ranked to match, and hence they ranked those programs #1 only to find out on match day that they matched elsewhere.

Just to further reinforce what BKN is saying...do NOT let these communications affect where you will rank programs. Rank programs in the order in which YOU like them.

In fact, I liked it when programs told me that I was ranked to match. That meant I could stick them at #4 and #5 on my rank list and I rested assured that I wouldn't go below #5 on my rank list should I not match at my favorite three programs (it just happened to work out that way where my top 3 choices never gave me the "you are ranked to match" schpeel.)