Bearie

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Hi everyone,

I really don't know how I could have made it halfway through this without you guys.

One thing I was wondering was this idea that "we are being interviewed all day." I know of course not to do anything outrageous, but are residents really watching us how we walk on tours? I know during "formal" interviews, the interviewers have been filling out an evaluation afterwards. Do residents also do this formally or is more a matter of you guys emailing the PD if there's someone you really has a nice chat with over lunch or conversely if someone was really inappropriate?

What exactly is the role of "exit interviews" (some have been with the PD/other with residents). Is this really "for us" like they say or is it another evaluation?

Also, are we "evaluated" during the dinners and should we make an effort to explain and to whom when we can't attend?

Finally, some PDs have responded to thanks you note to the effect of "you'd be great for this program" and other not at all. Should I be reading between the lines? How often and how exactly do programs skirt match rules and let you know their interest in you?

Thank you again!
 

heyjack70

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From my experience interviewing applicants, the only official evaluations were done for the scheduled interviews. That said, if you act inappropriately at any time that will almost definitely get back to the PD. I would assume that nothing is off the record, but non-interview stuff is unlikely to make any difference unless it raises concerns.
 

SmallBird

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Good questions!

I think that for the most part the evaluation you receive from residents at a program is as you described - a casual comment if someone has a good conversation, and only a negative email if something very inappropriate happened. That's how things go at my program, and at a few programs where I have friends involved in recruitment.

I think the same goes for the dinners, which is to say it probably doesn't matter very much if you can't attend. I couldn't attend any of the dinners because of my tight flight schedule and feel I was able to make a good impression at most of the places I interviewed.

I wouldn't read between the lines of these emails too much. There are many possible situations - PD's may have more reserved communicative styles, they might be too early in the season to make any suggestions about your competitiveness, they might not have time to craft a detailed reply, etc. I received a very neutral response from a program that proceeded to offer me a prematch the week later. It would be nice if we could plan based on these emails but for the most part that is not the case ;)
 

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Speaking for one small program:
1) we wouldn't be interviewing you if we didn't already think that you were suitable for our program. Who actually lands here is going to be determined far more by where you rank us than by where we rank you.
2) residents and coordinators will certainly feedback to us with the major bad vibes (e.g rudeness, inappropriate comments, etc.) or awesome good vibes, but those are unlikely to end up on the official score sheets, and might only minimally influence discussions on ranking night 2 months from now. Your anxious awkwardness is nothing to worry about.
3) post match communication should be brief, polite, and vague when coming from a PD. I've actually found myself looking forward to your personal notes this year, especially when they reflect the conversation I actually had with the candidate. I do my best to acknowledge each personal note sincerely and positively. I won't BS you, don't feel compelled to BS me.
4) we're just as much (or even more, if the supposed applicant-favoring algorithm is to be believed) at the mercy of the Almighty Match as you are. If I say that I would be happy to have you in my program, I mean it. It doesn't mean that you're assured of a match, any more than my earnest hopes assure me of getting my favorite applicants.
5) just kick back and enjoy the interview day as best that you can. As mentioned in other threads, the pressure is really on the programs to sell themselves to you. Enjoy the free food and attention. :)

Good luck! :luck:
 

nitemagi

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I'll echo that what they're doing is keeping an eye out for major gaffs. Programs generally want to know that you'll be a good fit. They want someone who will carry their workload, is eager and personable, and will get along with their other residents.

Being privy to the process for a couple of years during residency, a very vocal resident that you rubbed the wrong way can drop you dramatically on the list. Be nice. Be real. Be interested and interesting.
 
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A question for PDs: Is there a strong preference for e-mailed versus handwritten thank-yous, if the program does not specify what they expect? I like the formality of a simple written note, but I am finding myself e-mailing some of my favorite programs, in part to have that brief dialogue with the individuals I met on my interview. E.g. I say, thanks so much, here is something I really loved about the program, and they write back a vague "I enjoyed our conversation and you'd be a good fit here" type of note. I don't intend to carry the conversation past that, out of deference for their time, but is the e-mail (and expectation of a reply) already too intrusive?
 

OldPsychDoc

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A question for PDs: Is there a strong preference for e-mailed versus handwritten thank-yous, if the program does not specify what they expect? I like the formality of a simple written note, but I am finding myself e-mailing some of my favorite programs, in part to have that brief dialogue with the individuals I met on my interview. E.g. I say, thanks so much, here is something I really loved about the program, and they write back a vague "I enjoyed our conversation and you'd be a good fit here" type of note. I don't intend to carry the conversation past that, out of deference for their time, but is the e-mail (and expectation of a reply) already too intrusive?
Discussed at length here.

Just keep it simple. I'm certainly not offended by a brief, sincere email.
I'm not expecting a perfumed Hallmark card.
(But then again, MrsPsychDoc knows I kind of think that all greeting cards are frivolous...)
 
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Doctor Bagel

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I guess we're different. We ask each residents who goes to a meal to complete an individual feedback form on every applicant they meet. The resident also gets access to your application and can include things about that in their feedback. The resident feedback is all compiled and plays a significant role in the final rank list. So yeah, you are kind of interviewing when you go to a meal.
 

TexasPhysician

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I guess we're different. We ask each residents who goes to a meal to complete an individual feedback form on every applicant they meet. The resident also gets access to your application and can include things about that in their feedback. The resident feedback is all compiled and plays a significant role in the final rank list. So yeah, you are kind of interviewing when you go to a meal.
Ditto here. That said, residents at my program rarely try to influence the rankings unless an applicant is particularly good/bad. When a resident does speak up, it is taken seriously.
 

shan564

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At my program, the applicants interact with a lot of the current residents. Most of the time, we're just focused on trying to recruit them to our program and try to explain why we chose to come here and why we're happy here. We rarely ever even think about evaluating the applicants. We're not asked to give our impression of individual applicants. I can still tell that applicants are trying to make themselves look good to us, but as others have said, it really doesn't matter. The only way I'd make any comment about an applicant to the PD is if they do something grossly inappropriate.
 

rkaz

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5) just kick back and enjoy the interview day as best that you can. As mentioned in other threads, the pressure is really on the programs to sell themselves to you. Enjoy the free food and attention. :)
This is probably another neurotic question, but do you think it matters what people order at the dinners? At most interviews, the residents have taken us out to nice restaurants with expensive dishes (like $8 appetizers and $15-20 entrees). I try to order on the lower end of the spectrum, price-wise, as I don't want to burden the program. However, I have seen residents ordering appetizers, drinks, entrees, and desserts and I don't know if it's okay for us to eat like this. I try to see what the residents and other applicants are doing. If everyone at the table is ordering dessert, I probably will also order something. However, if only 1-2 of the residents are ordering dessert, then I probably will chose not to stand out, if most people aren't.

Conversely, I'd had other issues due to my diet. A few places were super sweet to me and asked me beforehand about my dietary preferences, and even ordered me a separate lunch from the rest of the group to accommodate my diet (kudos to them - as it was very much appreciated!). Conversely, there was recently a program I interviewed at who did not ask about dietary preferences, and at lunch there was not a single thing I could eat (as everything contained some animal ingredients). I ended up compromising my diet, in order to not stick out from others, which I would have preferred not to compromise on. For future reference, do you think it would look bad to not eat, or to bring my own meal?
 
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Nasrudin

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I guess we're different. We ask each residents who goes to a meal to complete an individual feedback form on every applicant they meet. The resident also gets access to your application and can include things about that in their feedback. The resident feedback is all compiled and plays a significant role in the final rank list. So yeah, you are kind of interviewing when you go to a meal.
I think that's excessive. No one wants to be evaluated while eating a meal with someone. It harms congeniality. And compromises the usual and proper intent of resident/applicant interaction of being an open, free space where people can establish enough honesty to discover if they fit together well. The programs that encourage the most open free access to resident opinion are doing the best service to future residents. You can't do that if the interviewing never stops.
 
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OldPsychDoc

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This is probably another neurotic question, but do you think it matters what people order at the dinners? At most interviews, the residents have taken us out to nice restaurants with expensive dishes (like $8 appetizers and $15-20 entrees). I try to order on the lower end of the spectrum, price-wise, as I don't want to burden the program. However, I have seen residents ordering appetizers, drinks, entrees, and desserts and I don't know if it's okay for us to eat like this. I try to see what the residents and other applicants are doing. If everyone at the table is ordering dessert, I probably will also order something. However, if only 1-2 of the residents are ordering dessert, then I probably will chose not to stand out, if most people aren't.

Conversely, I'd had other issues due to my diet. A few places were super sweet to me and asked me beforehand about my dietary preferences, and even ordered me a separate lunch from the rest of the group to accommodate my diet (kudos to them - as it was very much appreciated!). Conversely, there was recently a program I interviewed at who did not ask about dietary preferences, and at lunch there was not a single thing I could eat (as everything contained some animal ingredients). I ended up compromising my diet, in order to not stick out from others, which I would have preferred not to compromise on. For future reference, do you think it would look bad to not eat, or to bring my own meal?
Follow the lead of the residents and you'll be fine.
If they don't ask ahead of time about dietary needs, don't be shy about letting them know. It really is an expectation these days that diets should be accomodated--I don't think there's anything unusual about asking. And if the program overlooks it and you feel strongly enough, then don't feel bad about skipping or obtaining something appropriate on your own.
 
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TexasPhysician

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I think that's excessive. No one wants to be evaluated while eating a meal with someone. It harms congeniality. And compromises the usual and proper intent of resident/applicant interaction of being an open, free space where people can establish enough honesty to discover if they fit together well. The programs that encourage the most open free access to resident opinion are doing the best service to future residents. You can't do that if the interviewing never stops.
Many programs allow residents to provide feedback. The residents aren't interviewing at dinners but instead establishing fit. Residents are just looking for polite, friendly peers. The applicant who gets a bad eval does something pretty odd like gets drunk at the dinner and asks a resident to come back to their hotel. That's not something residents often look for in a colleague.
 

Nasrudin

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Many programs allow residents to provide feedback. The residents aren't interviewing at dinners but instead establishing fit. Residents are just looking for polite, friendly peers. The applicant who gets a bad eval does something pretty odd like gets drunk at the dinner and asks a resident to come back to their hotel. That's not something residents often look for in a colleague.
Say what you want. Breaking bread with a another human being. Intent on getting to know one another is not something to fettered with forms and check boxes and scores. Unless one is not at all preoccupied with such trivial things as honor.
 
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rkaz

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Many programs allow residents to provide feedback. The residents aren't interviewing at dinners but instead establishing fit. Residents are just looking for polite, friendly peers. The applicant who gets a bad eval does something pretty odd like gets drunk at the dinner and asks a resident to come back to their hotel. That's not something residents often look for in a colleague.
I agree that extreme issues should be reported to the PD. But I think having to provide individual feedback on each applicant, as Doctor Bagel's program requires, IS taking things too far. I think asking the residents to optionally provide one single feedback form on anything particular that stood out with any of the applicants they'd like to mention would be more appropriate. In this way, those of us who are there to ask a lot of questions but just want to relax at the dinner could do so without knowing that our every action is being documented.

I'd like to be able to ask residents honest questions "Are you really happy here?" "Do you have any concern about ______ in your program?" and not think that any of my concerns of the program will be reported back to the PD. I consider myself to be friendly and appropriate at all the dinners, but I definitely don't want to have to be more self-conscious about whether I'm smiling enough or if I'm socializing sufficiently with the other applicants or residents or asking the right questions - which I'd surely have to be more self-conscious of, if it's all being documented individually for each applicant.
 

rkaz

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Follow the lead of the residents and you'll be fine.
If they don't ask ahead of time about dietary needs, don't be shy about letting them know. It really is an expectation these days that diets should be accomodated--I don't think there's anything unusual about asking. And if the program overlooks it and you feel strongly enough, then don't feel bad about skipping or obtaining something appropriate on your own.
Thanks OPD! I think I have to get over my discomfort in asking, as I don't want to be seen as being demanding in any way, or inconveniencing anyone. Maybe I can find a more gentle way to broach the question, such as asking the PC, "By the way, I happen to eat a vegan diet, would it be okay for me to bring my own lunch to interview day?" And then the PC can either tell me it's fine to bring my own lunch, or she/he might even tell me that there will be some veggie items on the menu that I can eat, or (going a step further) that she might even have something special brought in for me. So that might be a way to handle this in future. Thanks for the suggestion.
 

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Well, the goal is to make sure that residents' feedback plays a significant role in the creation of the rank list since we're the ones who are going to have to work the most closely with the new interns and would likely have the best sense of whether or not someone would fit with the other residents. I can see where it's nerve-wracking to know that you are evaluated throughout the day, but I imagine we are not the only place where that happens. All that means for applicants is to be on your best behavior (which you would be anyway). I think it's important to know, though, that at some programs, everyone has a voice, so being nice to the program coordinator is probably just as important as being nice to the program director.

Either way, I have no role in creating the ranking system here, so I'm not really into either defending it or knocking it. It is the system, though, and I doubt we're the only program like that. So yeah, dinners and lunches count. Tours, too.
 

notdeadyet

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Well, the goal is to make sure that residents' feedback plays a significant role in the creation of the rank list since we're the ones who are going to have to work the most closely with the new interns and would likely have the best sense of whether or not someone would fit with the other residents.
I agree. And this is why many programs have residents involved in the interview process.

But I think having applicants formally evaluated at dinner is pretty skeevy unless the program specifically lets them know that they are doing so. Having the pre-interview dinner essentially a part of the interview process without notification is bad ethics, in my book.
 
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Nasrudin

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Well I'm biased in the sense that medical culture's constant obsession with evaluating each other is repulsive to me. It drains any spontaneity and sincerity and creativity out of our encounters.

If your forms are filled out unbeknownst to applicants--as ndy points out--that's the mark of bad work culture. Of course, we should conduct ourselves properly. But without the proper space to ask open and unrestrained questions of residents, as rkaz points out, then what are typically a pointless series of inane sales pitches, gets the final stamp of ineffectual banality and uselessness for spending time at your program other than to sell you our applications as they have already been stated. I would maintain that all you are gaining is who are the superior sales persons from such technique. Rapport is a natural 2 way street, is it not?
 
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Doctor Bagel

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I guess I'm still not getting what the big deal is. The norm in any sort of interview process that involves a meal is to have the people at the meal share feedback. I'm not sure how a formal feedback form is different from asking residents verbally what they thought of the applicants or just listening when they provide spontaneous feedback. I think saying it's unethical is a bit of a stretch. When you're interviewing, you're selling yourself, potentially in every interaction. That's life. That doesn't mean you can't ask residents probing questions about their program. If residents view the type of questions you ask as a negative, maybe it's a sign you wouldn't fit (and hence this evaluation process makes sense).

As for resident feedback in general, I've heard of at least one program where the residents actually complete the rank order list and then have faculty and the administration make modifications as they see fit (although likely not modifying that much). Those residents would be forming their impressions based on their interactions with interviewees at meals as well. If residents are involved in the feedback process, then it goes to show that any interaction you have with us might maybe positively or negatively affect your standing on the rank order list.

Getting back to the ethical thing, is it unethical to rank someone lower (or cut them from the rank list) because they were rude to the program coordinator, even though they're not formally interviewing with the program coordinator?
 

Nasrudin

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I guess I'm still not getting what the big deal is. The norm in any sort of interview process that involves a meal is to have the people at the meal share feedback. I'm not sure how a formal feedback form is different from asking residents verbally what they thought of the applicants or just listening when they provide spontaneous feedback. I think saying it's unethical is a bit of a stretch. When you're interviewing, you're selling yourself, potentially in every interaction. That's life. That doesn't mean you can't ask residents probing questions about their program. If residents view the type of questions you ask as a negative, maybe it's a sign you wouldn't fit (and hence this evaluation process makes sense).

As for resident feedback in general, I've heard of at least one program where the residents actually complete the rank order list and then have faculty and the administration make modifications as they see fit (although likely not modifying that much). Those residents would be forming their impressions based on their interactions with interviewees at meals as well. If residents are involved in the feedback process, then it goes to show that any interaction you have with us might maybe positively or negatively affect your standing on the rank order list.

Getting back to the ethical thing, is it unethical to rank someone lower (or cut them from the rank list) because they were rude to the program coordinator, even though they're not formally interviewing with the program coordinator?
Having the residents do the selection process is an amazing idea. And no, it's not that big of a deal. Probably, as you say, just par for the course. Sales pitches unto death. I wonder.....do we ever get to the point where our work can ever just speak for itself. And people can eat and talk together without pretense and layers of schmarmy falsity.
 

TexasPhysician

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I agree that extreme issues should be reported to the PD. But I think having to provide individual feedback on each applicant, as Doctor Bagel's program requires, IS taking things too far. I think asking the residents to optionally provide one single feedback form on anything particular that stood out with any of the applicants they'd like to mention would be more appropriate. In this way, those of us who are there to ask a lot of questions but just want to relax at the dinner could do so without knowing that our every action is being documented.

I'd like to be able to ask residents honest questions "Are you really happy here?" "Do you have any concern about ______ in your program?" and not think that any of my concerns of the program will be reported back to the PD. I consider myself to be friendly and appropriate at all the dinners, but I definitely don't want to have to be more self-conscious about whether I'm smiling enough or if I'm socializing sufficiently with the other applicants or residents or asking the right questions - which I'd surely have to be more self-conscious of, if it's all being documented individually for each applicant.
I still think you misunderstand. Residents do not document your every word or downgrade you based on legit questions. Rarely do they write anything at all, but instead just check boxes that you are a normal applicant without significant psychopathology. Whether you are quiet or talkative does not matter. Feel free to ask about anything bad about the program as that is our purpose - answering all honest questions.

At many programs, any resident that contacts you ever can evaluate you. Not just meals. Rarely do residents actually write a comment on the eval other than something like "good applicant".

The residents job is to merely keep out applicants that would be too difficult to ever work with. To give examples: if your shirt does not cover your stomach and your pants are low enough to see your plumber assets, faculty will be notified on the evals and in person. If you discuss your alien abduction, be prepared get residents concerned about you. Drop the F-bomb more than 5 times in a 20 minute Q&A and you may offend someone.

No resident wants to take time on an applicant eval, so rest assured that you have to do something extremely odd for the eval to ever affect you. The examples I provided above are real, and there are many others. Still it is extremely rare to get anything negative on an applicant, and only residents that have volunteered to fill out an eval will do so.

More often, residents will go to bat for lesser applicants at the final rank meeting. We move more applicants up than down.

So be polite, ask any questions you want, socialize to get to see how well you click with the residents, and wear something remotely appropriate. I think this is common knowledge, and it will 90% of the time not affect your ranking, and 10% move it up. These interactions are nothing to worry about and should not affect your questions/concerns, etc.
 

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And yet if you tell applicants you're being evaluated during dinner, you can expect interview style answers and get less of an honest impression of an applicant.

I get the logic, I just think it's bad policy. Allowing for applicants to get to know a program by asking frank questions without concern of how they'll be viewed (which is how I think most dinners are used) is best for the applicant AND the program.

I'm very curious if programs that formally evaluate people during these dinners let the applicants know ahead of time. And are they forbidden from ordering a beer during this process? Interesting liability…


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TexasPhysician

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And yet if you tell applicants you're being evaluated during dinner, you can expect interview style answers and get less of an honest impression of an applicant.

I get the logic, I just think it's bad policy. Allowing for applicants to get to know a program by asking frank questions without concern of how they'll be viewed (which is how I think most dinners are used) is best for the applicant AND the program.

I'm very curious if programs that formally evaluate people during these dinners let the applicants know ahead of time. And are they forbidden from ordering a beer during this process? Interesting liability…


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Applicants are always being evaluated at every program. Even if there isn't a formal form, PD's will gladly accept info from residents that see unprofessional conduct at dinners. Never believe something won't get back to them.

I see programs that allow residents to have more input as a huge plus. Residents work with other residents more often than faculty. I do not want a fellow resident stirring up drama when I am stuck there 4+ years.

No honest question will hurt your chances. An applicant who brings up a major fault in my program demonstrates interest, having done research, and proper concern. No harm there. We probably have the same concerns. In no way are applicants judged by residents for asking questions. That is not our purpose, and faculty will be quick to tell you that such concern is inappropriate.

Again, to get anything negative written about you, you have to really do something inappropriate which will get you in hot water everywhere.
 
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If these interviews and dinners serve mainly to weed out applicants who misbehave or are poor fits, does that mean our acceptances are based more on board scores, letters of rec, and personal statements? What percent of our ranking is decided before we even interview?
 

TexasPhysician

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If these interviews and dinners serve mainly to weed out applicants who misbehave or are poor fits, does that mean our acceptances are based more on board scores, letters of rec, and personal statements? What percent of our ranking is decided before we even interview?
Interviews with faculty appear to play a huge part at my program. Personal statements are 90% worthless. 5% are horrible and hurt significantly. 5% help significantly. Rec letters are rarely beneficial as they are usually positive. Scores can help or hurt. Specific faculty can have significant pull, so those interviews can make/break you.

Resident evals rarely catch unprofessional behavior that faculty didn't already discover themselves. These only have a big influence in rare instances.

I think most programs will have 1-2 faculty that are excellent interviewers and have significant weight.
 
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FWIW: I have only gone to about half the pre interview dinners. For a couple of them, it was a travel issue. For others, I was just tired of having an additional "dress up and look sharp" thing to do and I either did not sign up for the dinner or I canceled well in advance, giving appropriate regrets.

Put me somewhere in the middle of this debate. I am not too worried that I will do something that will be negatively noted; my concerns are more along the lines of feeling like I have to be "on" for 2 hours in addition to the long day that follows. The interview day is enough for me, and it has to be enough for the program, too.

I have learned nothing about a program or the people at the dinners that I did not already know or would not learn during the interview day, and I get plenty of feel about the people during the interview day itself (they all have lunches that residents attend). It is really not easy to ask the tougher questions at these evening dinners - you don't want it to be the only words you get in edge-wise, either. Small talk seems to dominate these dinners, and that is fine, but it isn't all that informative.

My advice: skip the dinners if you have any concerns about them. By "skip" of course I mean cancel in advance, or just don't sign up, and offer regrets. You aren't missing much if anything by skipping these dinners, IMO.

One final note: at a couple of places, the residents pick up the applicants at a central place, usually the recommended hotel lobby, and drive them to the restaurant. At others, you are given an address, and in some cases it has been a bit of a nuisance to get to the dinner either without a car or by taking a cab. Two restaurants had no off street parking, and secure parking nearby was virtually non-existent, so if you showed up in a car you had a problem, and nothing was mentioned in the emails about this situation in at least one case.

Thus my suggestion to programs: make it really easy for the applicants - either pick them up, or arrange the dinner at a restaurant very close walking distance from the preferred hotel. The last thing I feel like doing after traveling all day is printing out a google map to find a restaurant after dark in some city I have never been in before - too much trouble for what it is worth, to me. YMMV...
 

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Interesting thoughts, Doctor Bagel and TexasPhysician. Food for thought.

I'm not sure I buy into the "formal evaluation at dinner" as being the appropriate way to get residents a voice in the selection process (I know lots of places have residents conduct interviews and sit on the evaluation/ranking committee itself), and I still think I prefer having a more casual environment where applicants can learn about programs without considering evaluation, but I definitely have a bit more insight into the programs that go at it the other route. Good stuff.
 
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My problem with the resident evaluation is that they probably will end up focusing a lot more on charismatic aspects of personality (basically how good you are in small talk and providing entertainment) rather than truly more important features that are likely to affect patient care: integrity, ethics, values..etc. No one can accurately gauge these things from a dinner; and yet well know these end up as very important aspects of evaluation even in the hospital, nevermind in casual social situations. Granted, it's very important to make sure you'll not be working with a sociopath or a very lazy person, but it's regretful when things that have little to do with patient care or the actual work you do end up playing a much bigger role in the overall assessment.
 
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TexasPhysician

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My problem with the resident evaluation is that they probably will end up focusing a lot more on charismatic aspects of personality (basically how good you are in small talk and providing entertainment) rather than truly more important features that are likely to affect patient care: integrity, ethics, values..etc. No one can accurately gauge these things from a dinner; and yet well know these end up as very important aspects of evaluation even in the hospital, nevermind in casual social situations. Granted, it's very important to make sure you'll not be working with a sociopath or a very lazy person, but it's regretful when things that have little to do with patient care or the actual work you do end up playing a much bigger role in the overall assessment.
What is interesting is that a vast majority of residents want more say in rankings. Put yourself in the resident's shoes and finding applicants that are a good "fit" is of great importance.

At my program, residents help to upgrade about 4-6 applicants/year and downgrade 1 applicant/year. Most applicants are completely unaffected.
 

Doctor Bagel

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My problem with the resident evaluation is that they probably will end up focusing a lot more on charismatic aspects of personality (basically how good you are in small talk and providing entertainment) rather than truly more important features that are likely to affect patient care: integrity, ethics, values..etc. No one can accurately gauge these things from a dinner; and yet well know these end up as very important aspects of evaluation even in the hospital, nevermind in casual social situations. Granted, it's very important to make sure you'll not be working with a sociopath or a very lazy person, but it's regretful when things that have little to do with patient care or the actual work you do end up playing a much bigger role in the overall assessment.
Possibly true. It's hard to figure things out by only meeting a person for one day. I generally try to match my impression with someone's application and give the applicant the benefit of the doubt. I think we all thing we can perceive a lot more about people in brief interactions than we really can.

From having a chance to look at applications for a few years, I'd say that I mainly look at someone's activities and the MSPE with skimming of letters and the personal statements. I'd place letters ahead of personal statements, too -- personal statements tend to run together as almost all of them these days are about a family member with a mental illness (and this seems to be increasing each year). With grades and board scores, average is fine, and I honestly don't care that much about below average as long as you've passed everything.

BTW, while the MSPE is useful, what's up with dean's trying to hide the quartile information with this excellent, very good, good crap. Making me hunt in the addendum for what essentially is a quartile breakdown is not cool. Stop it -- you're not fooling anyone.
 
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notdeadyet

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BTW, while the MSPE is useful, what's up with dean's trying to hide the quartile information with this excellent, very good, good crap.
Aaaaaaamen. A couple use "very good" as their lowest quartile.

By the way, can we also use actual quartiles, for chrissake? Most schools have about 5% in the bottom quartile and some have about 15-20% in the second to bottom "quartile."
 

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...do we ever get to the point where our work can ever just speak for itself. ....
What work? We have literally NOTHING to go on for most of you except the general impressions of a couple of faculty of how you did on rotations where your "work" was essentially just observing and practing note-writing.
 

Fenster

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What is interesting is that a vast majority of residents want more say in rankings. Put yourself in the resident's shoes and finding applicants that are a good "fit" is of great importance.
There seem to be two different types of evaluation by residents discussed here. One is the type you are describing where residents only pass on atrocious behavior to the selection committee, and pull up a few interviewees who they genuinely think may be better candidates than they appear to be on the surface (although there is still the risk of residents favoring those who are more 'entertaining' or who they like).

The other type is the one Doctor Bagel is describing, where the residents' evaluation is a "significant" factor in the ranking of every candidate. As Jorge286 mentioned, the latter is prone to tons of bias, and in my opinion, a really poor way to go about selecting candidates for residency.

I'm sure everyone would love to play God, but is everyone qualified to do that? When even experienced faculty are not very experienced at interviewing job interviewees, how well can residents in training assess other residents? And that too over informal sessions like lunch and dinner that is mostly small talk or questions about the program.
 

notdeadyet

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I'm sure everyone would love to play God, but is everyone qualified to do that? When even experienced faculty are not very experienced at interviewing job interviewees, how well can residents in training assess other residents? And that too over informal sessions like lunch and dinner that is mostly small talk or questions about the program.
I don't have any objections to residents doing the interviews. In programs that they're actively involved in the interview process, they go through the same amount of interviewing training as most of the faculty.

My objection is the dinner "interview." You can't sit around a table and rotate through and make small talk at dinner and have a level playing field like the candidates do each with a 45 minute slot in your office. When the "interviewer" is arbitrarily deciding who to talk to, about what, and for how long, you are REALLY running the risk of bias playing a big role in evaluations. You could minimize this with a speed dating type setup with set questions, but I doubt programs are doing this.
 
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Doctor Bagel

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There seem to be two different types of evaluation by residents discussed here. One is the type you are describing where residents only pass on atrocious behavior to the selection committee, and pull up a few interviewees who they genuinely think may be better candidates than they appear to be on the surface (although there is still the risk of residents favoring those who are more 'entertaining' or who they like).

The other type is the one Doctor Bagel is describing, where the residents' evaluation is a "significant" factor in the ranking of every candidate. As Jorge286 mentioned, the latter is prone to tons of bias, and in my opinion, a really poor way to go about selecting candidates for residency.

I'm sure everyone would love to play God, but is everyone qualified to do that? When even experienced faculty are not very experienced at interviewing job interviewees, how well can residents in training assess other residents? And that too over informal sessions like lunch and dinner that is mostly small talk or questions about the program.
So you think seasoned faculty can do a better job? :) Interviewing and hiring are so arbitrary. Maybe those MMI things have some value, but otherwise, I think it's a crapshoot for all of us.
 

Fenster

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I don't have any objections to residents doing the interviews. In programs that they're actively involved in the interview process, they go through the same amount of interviewing training as most of the faculty.

My objection is the dinner "interview." You can't sit around a table and rotate through and make small talk at dinner and have a level playing field like the candidates do each with a 45 minute slot in your office. When the "interviewer" is arbitrarily deciding who to talk to, about what, and for how long, you are REALLY running the risk of bias playing a big role in evaluations. You could minimize this with a speed dating type setup with set questions, but I doubt programs are doing this.
That was exactly my point too. I have no objections with residents doing interviews as it's bound to be much more of a formal process when that happens and more standardized as the same resident will probably interview many more than one batch of candidates. The resident interviewing will also try to standardize the evaluation process. These residents are also usually the best residents in the program. Most of those don't happen in dinners and lunches.

So you think seasoned faculty can do a better job? :) Interviewing and hiring are so arbitrary. Maybe those MMI things have some value, but otherwise, I think it's a crapshoot for all of us.
Yeah I do. At least in all my interviews so far, I see a HUGE difference in the interviewing abilities between chief residents and junior faculty. The confidence factor seems to play a huge role. There seems to be a linear correlation between the interviewer's age/experience and how well they interview. The residents seem to be keen on running through their list of questions rather than having an open conversation. I can only assume the interviewer hasn't listened to my reply properly if he/she doesn't pick up on something that should've been picked up and followed upon.
 
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Yeah I do. At least in all my interviews so far, I see a HUGE difference in the interviewing abilities between chief residents and junior faculty. The confidence factor seems to play a huge role. There seems to be a linear correlation between the interviewer's age/experience and how well they interview.
I definitely can see this in the people that are interviewing me. Although in my case, one of my weird interviewing experiences wasn't with a chief resident: it was a psychologist that really didn't express confidence in having a conversation with me.

She was like "Umm... uhhh... what... do you look.... in faculty... ummm.... in... finding career goals?"

My response: "I am not sure what you mean. Can you repeat the question? Are you asking what I'm looking for with regards to faculty in order to decide between programs?" "Or what faculty do I want to be with in terms of career interests?"

Interviewer: "Yeah, that one"

Me: *proceeds to answer first question* "Did I answer your question?"

Interviewer: "Yes."

I think applicants should evaluate interviewers as much as they're evaluating us. I don't think it's fair to judge a program on how competent the interviewers are, but hey, they're judging us on how competent we are as a communicator in that stressful situation.

A side note:

An attending at my home program whom I regularly communicate with say that interviewers constantly ask "Do you have any questions?" not for themselves or even to judge an applicants interest: they do it to relieve their own anxiety because they don't want a five minute interview when they have 30 minutes blocked off, and they want to shift the burden to you to provide some source of conversation. I wonder how true this is.
 
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Nasrudin

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What work? We have literally NOTHING to go on for most of you except the general impressions of a couple of faculty of how you did on rotations where your "work" was essentially just observing and practing note-writing.
Well the work wasn't easy getting myself to your program to dance my jig. And while it's not the worst thing exhausting myself and my resources to get here and there while rehearsing this routine until I'm sick of hearing my own voice coming out of my fat f'n head with the same answers to the same questions....it isn't easy either. So what? Says you. What work? Hhahahhaha. If you don't know what it is I'm doing I sure don't. Which was my point. That broad side of a barn you snarkily missed for some reason.
 

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Well the work wasn't easy getting myself to your program to dance my jig. And while it's not the worst thing exhausting myself and my resources to get here and there while rehearsing this routine until I'm sick of hearing my own voice coming out of my fat f'n head with the same answers to the same questions....it isn't easy either. So what? Says you. What work? Hhahahhaha. If you don't know what it is I'm doing I sure don't. Which was my point. That broad side of a barn you snarkily missed for some reason.
Nope--I think I was trying to make the same point. all we've got is the small talk, the subjective impressions, the same old questions, "the dance". Best for both of us to practice our moves. Or would you rather we just rank you flat out on your USMLEs?
 

Nasrudin

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Nope--I think I was trying to make the same point. all we've got is the small talk, the subjective impressions, the same old questions, "the dance". Best for both of us to practice our moves. Or would you rather we just rank you flat out on your USMLEs?
Well then. We see eye to eye then captain. One working girl to another.
 

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An attending at my home program whom I regularly communicate with say that interviewers constantly ask "Do you have any questions?" not for themselves or even to judge an applicants interest: they do it to relieve their own anxiety because they don't want a five minute interview when they have 30 minutes blocked off, and they want to shift the burden to you to provide some source of conversation. I wonder how true this is.
as an applicant it does get grating after a while being asked what questions you have. however this is actually a very good way to evaluate applicants too. I find that the questions you asks gives me a sense of what really interests you and whether those fit with the program. It also gives me a sense of what matters to you, how much you know about the program, what concerns you might have, how brazen or insecure you might be, how thoughtful you are in your questions. and actually it is a good way for you to show yourself in a positive light. it also helps me figure out what I should be talking to you about in order to sell the program. And its way more comfortable than the really nosy questions that I might ask because I'm nosy...
 

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as an applicant it does get grating after a while being asked what questions you have. however this is actually a very good way to evaluate applicants too. I find that the questions you asks gives me a sense of what really interests you and whether those fit with the program. It also gives me a sense of what matters to you, how much you know about the program, what concerns you might have, how brazen or insecure you might be, how thoughtful you are in your questions. and actually it is a good way for you to show yourself in a positive light. it also helps me figure out what I should be talking to you about in order to sell the program. And its way more comfortable than the really nosy questions that I might ask because I'm nosy...
This ^. That said, I think it's a question best asked later in the interview. I think it's the height of laziness to start with it.
 

Nasrudin

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On the up side. I've been talking with my buddies applying to ortho, ent, and the like. And man...do we have first world interview problems. Some specialties you gotta get branded while they piss on you and like it. At least I get to have a somewhat 2 way adult conversation with mostly interesting, thoughtful people.
 

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I think what we or i am questioning extends to the process of medical evaluation and education in general and not just the interview process. It's not really an unpopular opinion in sdn or in yhe real world to stress the importance of chemistry between you and the residents and subjective perdonal things in the overall assessment (in short, how charismatic are you. Are you extrovert, talkative, entertaining?). These sometimes overshadow the patient care. For some reason this tends to be far less of a factor when attendings do the evaluation. It's a very imperfect system, but as opd said, uve got to play the game.
 
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This ^. That said, I think it's a question best asked later in the interview. I think it's the height of laziness to start with it.
The problem is that this has happened multiple times, especially with chief residents. I think it shows that the interviewer is uncomfortable with being the interviewer and that he/she was being thrown into this position.

I think my problem with being asked repeatedly if you have any questions is that I run by midday. So by the time I get to the last interview, I'm all out. And if that person is evaluating my interest based on whether I have any questions...
 

Nasrudin

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One of my problems with asking questions freely is that I'm aware of the Splick-like thought patterns of my interviewers--what sort of goals and ambitions and motivations do I have in psychiatry. And mine are not the sort that tickles the fancy of PD's and faculty looking for who's gonna publish and enter the resume pissing contest with gusto. Which is precisely why I favor resident evaluation. Their concerns for good work mates more closely resemble my own in their immediate and practical focus.

It seems like psychiatry has a lot of people who fear charisma as a point of evaluation. I saw a movie called "zero charisma", as an aside that is completely hilarious. And don't get me wrong I'm completely comfortable hanging out with adult D&D players and comic-con enthusiasts and various sorts of interesting but low charisma scoring people, but it is just as important of a factor as the length of time you spent getting your name on publications with the famous Dr.so-n-so. And it allows for variety. Some people like this some that. So we get to be an intern class of this and that which more fun than all this or all that.
 

MacDonaldTriad

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Not surprisingly, 90% of a program’s opinion about applicants is settled before the interview and is based on 4 years of hard work. This isn’t because the data gleaned from dean’s letters, scores, essays and LORs is so great, it is because most applicants show up with a pulse and behave themselves rather well for a day. Very few blow it during interviews, and even less knock your socks off with something not communicated in the application. It is always nice to get some connection between the interviewer and interviewee, but it seems to me that this happens to about the same degree with most interviews and most applicants do a fairly good job at being interviewed.

On the flip side, I’m sure many programs begin to look fairly similar to many applicants. Most programs share the same strengths and faults. Resources pay, and early didactics are fairly uniform across programs. Occasionally there can be that certain special someone who is a brilliant teacher or mentor, but just counting academic superstars in a department doesn’t always correlate with resident exposure to these gems. So guess what, it is OK to put mundane things like spousal jobs, support systems, location, and school district quality into your equation. Medical school makes these things such a low priority, now is the time to allow a small amount of selfishness peek out.

If I were God for a day, the first two things I would change would be to make the quality of golf clubs make up for a lack of talent, and then I would make the factors that influence applicants decisions be things programs could control. Since this will never happen, things are what they are. If you work hard and take advantage of the strengths in your program, you will become a good psychiatrist. If you don’t put in the effort, even the best program will not do that well in training you.