How much do programs actually care about falling down their rank lists?

slowthai

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It's interesting. My first thought is that they don't really care too too much, as long as they fill with good/qualified candidates. On the other hand, I've always heard about surgical sub PDs/chairs bragging about how they filled so high on their rank list. Of course, these are the same individuals that engage in those stupid PIC shenanigans. I figured it was just an ego thing.

So many students say stuff like "Yeah, I'm definitely ranking this institution low or not at all" because of their malignancy, or for whatever legitimate reason. Apparently some programs actually make changes based on applicant feedback. Of course, this is because filling high on their rank list is extremely important to them, not because they actually care about being a good program, lol.

Of course, programs want who they want, but at the end of the day, I reckon that, especially at the most competitive of specialties/programs, everyone on the rank list is more or less equally qualified to do the job well.

The answer to this question can help give us a sense of how much power (though obviously still little compared to programs) we have. If enough people decide to low-rank/DNR a certain program, they may end up with an disappointing match or even unfilled. Of course, this already happens at some malignant programs, but what about other programs?
 
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frenchyn

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Interested to know as well especially if top programs interview same candidates...how do they avoid not ranking the same people and fall down their lists?
 
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GoSpursGo

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I know this is an unsatisfying answer, but for just about any question that starts with “How much do programs actually care about X,” the answer is “It depends.” Most programs are rational. Some are narcissistic and do weird things.

The bottom line is that you can’t do anything to identify the rational programs from the irrational. Even if you could, I’m not sure how you would alter your behavior with the knowledge. So you can just toss this in the bin of things to worry about but not act upon until match day :)
 
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slowthai

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I know this is an unsatisfying answer, but for just about any question that starts with “How much do programs actually care about X,” the answer is “It depends.” Most programs are rational. Some are narcissistic and do weird things.

The bottom line is that you can’t do anything to identify the rational programs from the irrational. Even if you could, I’m not sure how you would alter your behavior with the knowledge. So you can just toss this in the bin of things to worry about but not act upon until match day :)

This makes sense. It's just an interesting thing to think about, really.
 
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We rank the applicants according to how much we want them. We’re excited if we don’t go far down our list, because that means they also wanted us. No way do we rank bad applicants higher just so we can say we matched the top of our list.
 
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softball2344

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We rank the applicants according to how much we want them. We’re excited if we don’t go far down our list, because that means they also wanted us. No way do we rank bad applicants higher just so we can say we matched the top of our list.
Do you guys interview 'bad' applicants tho? Thought getting an interview meant may app was considered decent at least :(
 
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operaman

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It matters to every program. To most, it only matters in retrospect as a marker of how applicants perceive your program and how effective you are in selecting who you interview. For the subs, you typically interview 40-60 people from a pool of 100 ish on a short list, so this refers to picking from the short list.

At mine we never changed a rank list after interview day. Expressed interest had no bearing. Falling down our list one year did make us change how we did our interview day, how we selected interviews, and what kind of post interview outreach we did to top choices. It didn’t mean we started gaming it by ranking people highly who kissed arse.

Matching in your top 10 means you effectively selected interviewees and that your most desired applicants felt similarly about you. It’s a good goal but it only matters if you reach it the right way.
 
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xffan624

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Am I missing something? What does to fall down a list mean??
It means the program isn't matching applicants at the top of their list so they're not getting their most preferred applicants. This should give you an idea of how the match works.

 
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frenchyn

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It matters to every program. To most, it only matters in retrospect as a marker of how applicants perceive your program and how effective you are in selecting who you interview. For the subs, you typically interview 40-60 people from a pool of 100 ish on a short list, so this refers to picking from the short list.

At mine we never changed a rank list after interview day. Expressed interest had no bearing. Falling down our list one year did make us change how we did our interview day, how we selected interviews, and what kind of post interview outreach we did to top choices. It didn’t mean we started gaming it by ranking people highly who kissed arse.

Matching in your top 10 means you effectively selected interviewees and that your most desired applicants felt similarly about you. It’s a good goal but it only matters if you reach it the right way.
What you said make sense but it seems to play too much importance on interview selection. I am applying to a small field...n I swear I see the same people over and over again especially the top programs. I can already pin point the top 20 applicants this year...how do programs avoid ranking these same 20 people? Also besides being obvious unfit or weird, do interviews really matter much especially at top programs where their residents all came from top schools?
 

operaman

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What you said make sense but it seems to play too much importance on interview selection. I am applying to a small field...n I swear I see the same people over and over again especially the top programs. I can already pin point the top 20 applicants this year...how do programs avoid ranking these same 20 people? Also besides being obvious unfit or weird, do interviews really matter much especially at top programs where their residents all came from top schools?
Well that’s exactly the kind of thing you want to avoid to some extent. If your program is interviewing the top 20 people but matching in the 30-40 range, it may be time to adjust your process. If you’re having to SOAP then you really need to revise your whole process.

For us, interviews are precious. We have 40 ish slots total from which to pick a handful of people. Interviewing someone who doesn’t want us may prevent us from meeting someone equally qualified who does want to come to our program. If I’m a west coast program I don’t want to waste half my slots on east coast people who are going to rank us below all their east coast options. Maybe those slots are better spent on applicants who are more likely to come here. There’s definitely an opportunity cost with every interview we offer in that it precludes us from interviewing someone else.

Applicants definitely aren’t equal. There are stars and average folks and we all want stars. Ideally we meet a bunch of stars who really click and want to come here.
 
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Do you guys interview 'bad' applicants tho? Thought getting an interview meant may app was considered decent at least :(
Usually, no, but some people look great on paper and have evals and LOR that don't seem to reflect the person in front of you. Having a good application is enough to get you through the door, but it's not all you need to be highly ranked for the match. "Fit" for the program, and the ability to relate well with staff, students, residents, attendings is extremely important. A candidate may be great for another program, and a poor fit for us.
 
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guytakingboards

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Do you guys interview 'bad' applicants tho? Thought getting an interview meant may app was considered decent at least :(

Absolutely "depends".

Short answer for me is: yes. When I was a chief resident I thought we interviewed a lot of bad applicants.

If you're a good program in a competitive field, then you probably won't interview bad applicants.

If you're a low-tier program in an noncompetitive field, then you probably interview quite a few bad applicants.

Even year to year, the quality of the applicant field can vary widely. In radiology, the entering class of fall 2016 (which applied '14-'15 season) was considered one of the worst in years. The interest in the field was at a nadir and the overall numbers of matched residents were lower than prior years. 5 years later, radiology is on a huge upswing and both applications and applicant's stats are significantly higher than prior years.
 
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Dr G Oogle

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Damn reading this thread it seems like programs are saying if you’re not a “star” you’re “bad.”

I don’t know how think that’s the message; certainly not one you should take away. I did our uro interviews this year and far an above my favorite applicants and those we ranked in the top 10 were not necessarily the ones with highest board scores or # of pubs but ones we all clicked with. In fact when we discussed them all at the end of each interview we really just talked about how much we’d like to spend time with them in and out of the hospital; academic performance only made it into discussion if the interview itself was a bit off. And before anyone goes off on how it’s not fair how this is based on one day, I (and others) encouraged applicants to tel us if they felt nervous, tired, zoomed out, etc, often that broke the ice and let them be themselves.
 
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sunshinefl

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I don’t know how think that’s the message; certainly not one you should take away. I did our uro interviews this year and far an above my favorite applicants and those we ranked in the top 10 were not necessarily the ones with highest board scores or # of pubs but ones we all clicked with. In fact when we discussed them all at the end of each interview we really just talked about how much we’d like to spend time with them in and out of the hospital; academic performance only made it into discussion if the interview itself was a bit off. And before anyone goes off on how it’s not fair how this is based on one day, I (and others) encouraged applicants to tel us if they felt nervous, tired, zoomed out, etc, often that broke the ice and let them be themselves.
That's good to hear!
 

Quantal Reasoning

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Usually, no, but some people look great on paper and have evals and LOR that don't seem to reflect the person in front of you. Having a good application is enough to get you through the door, but it's not all you need to be highly ranked for the match. "Fit" for the program, and the ability to relate well with staff, students, residents, attendings is extremely important. A candidate may be great for another program, and a poor fit for us.

What if you're a "slow burn" kind of person? You know, not the best first impression, but people really love you once they get to know you?

I mean, I think I know the answer already: You're at a disadvantage and learn to make a better first impression.

But still...
 
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frenchyn

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What if you're a "slow burn" kind of person? You know, not the best first impression, but people really love you once they get to know you?

I mean, I think I know the answer already: You're at a disadvantage and learn to make a better first impression.

But still...
Also how do you really assess fit with zoom or even in person interview...during these times you just socialize...work is whole other story. Some people may be great as socialized buddy but no where in hell I want to work with them.
 

Dr G Oogle

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What if you're a "slow burn" kind of person? You know, not the best first impression, but people really love you once they get to know you?

I mean, I think I know the answer already: You're at a disadvantage and learn to make a better first impression.

But still...
It comes across if you’re being genuine or someone who is a shmoozer. Most people who have done a few interview seasons can separate the two
 
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