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Note taking at interviews

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by Josh1105, Nov 19, 2005.

  1. Josh1105

    Josh1105 Member
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    I have a quick question for those that have been on interviews--
    have you brought any sort of portfolio/notepad for taking notes during info sessions and on tours? or is this just kind of lame?

    I'm an August MCATer with my first interview coming up.
    Thanks for the feedback.
    -Josh
     
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  3. gdbaby

    gdbaby Prettier than before
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    Congrats on your interview!

    I did bring a little pocket diary for my interview. But Iowa also provided a note pad and pen for notes. Everyone was jotting things down so you won't be out of place in doing so. Better to purchase something just in case it isn't provided for you.
     
  4. Hurricane95

    Hurricane95 Senior Member
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    I bring a leather portofolio/binder thing with a zipper to keep papers and any brochures they give out. I've seen many fellow interviewees do the same. I don't think I took any notes but whatever it looks professional and you never know if you need to write somehting down. Just make sure to keep it closed during the actual interview itself.
     
  5. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    Bringing a note pad is fine, but jot things down AFTER the interview or tour not during. Notes during the fin aid session is probably okay, but they usually give you the relevent documents.
     
  6. Sebastian.

    Sebastian. Member
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  7. 45408

    45408 aw buddy
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    yeah, I wrote a few things down during the assorted presentations we got, but I would never write anything down during an actual interview/tour
     
  8. teeney6

    teeney6 Member
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    The other nice thing about having a nice looking leather note pad is that they usually have side pockets in them for putting handouts and what not. I usually bring print outs of the essays I wrote for the school, questions I thought of before the interview, and my AMCAS app just in case I have time to look it over before my interview (not like it makes any difference then, but it is just a comfort thing I guess). I also usually ask my interviewers for contact info or a business card and then I have someplace to put it.
     
  9. deacondan16

    deacondan16 Member
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    Why is everyone so opposed to writing things down during the actual interview? I always have questions that I want to ask written down in front of me and then write down some answers so I can bring up points in my thank you letter.
     
  10. Rendar5

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    yeah, my volunteering was a great experience. Oh hold on a sec, let me write this down. :laugh: I dunno, just seems quite out of place.
     
  11. ssingh0

    ssingh0 Member
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    Your social abilities would come into question if you're walking around campus writing stuff down, or need to ask precomposed questions word per word.
     
  12. jebus

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    Ha ha. I think the idea was when the interviewer says, "So, do you have any questions?" You can whip out.... a list of questions, to show that you made an informed choice when you decided to apply and to clarify your interests and concerns. And then you can write down the responses. If you get multiple acceptances it might be worthwhile to look back at what positively and negatively impressed you about each school.
     
  13. QuikClot

    QuikClot Senior Member
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    I don't think so. One of the constants of the medical profession is note-taking during conversations -- whether they're patient interviews or transfers of care or what have you.

    I wouldn't advise speaking from notes or reading your questions off notes. That to me suggests someone who needs prompting in a high pressure situation. But anything they say that I want to retain, I'm going to write down. I think that conveys seriousness and practicality.
     
  14. Rendar5

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    I actually was considering that when I replied. Those situations differ in that you are interviewing someone, whereas in applying, you are being interviewed.

    I should mention to the OP, since i didn't in my last reply, that I think bringing in questions with you to the interview is actually a good idea and is something that I tell friends to do when seeing a doctor for general health reasons. That way, you don't forget something you wanted to ask. Just don't be reading off a list of them to the interviewer, lol. they're there to remind you of what you're forgetting, not to read aloud.
     
  15. QuikClot

    QuikClot Senior Member
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    Ah, but interview secrets 101 teaches us: you are evaluating them just as they are evaluating you. So you ask questions about the teaching, about the research, about the coursework. Even if you desperately want to get in and would want to if the cousework included a daily regimen of chewing broken glass, the way to present yourself is as someone chosing between options. ;)

    So you ask questions, as well as answer them. And -- I would argue -- it is appropriate and professional to write the answers down.
     
  16. Law2Doc

    Law2Doc 5K+ Member
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    No - note taking comes off really bad in a med school interview. As for your other point, while you will be taking notes when eg taking histories as a doctor etc., most schools are going to teach you to try and listen to the patient and ideally only take notes after, as it really detracts from the dialogue. Same holds true of the interview -- jot down whatever you want after its over, but not during. Part of what you are being judged on is your interpersonal skills, and frankly it is the rare individual that can hold a fluid conversation and take notes at the same time. The person who can get what they need without taking notes conveys the same seriousness and practicality, but comes off better in terms of connecting with the interviewer - which is more the point than getting some info you could find on SDN.
     
  17. QuikClot

    QuikClot Senior Member
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    I'm open to your perspective, but what is your experience? Is it personal success in the process, something you've heard from people doing interviews, or what?

    That's a load of crap -- which isn't to say that they don't do that; I don't know. But as a practicing clinician, I can tell you that taking notes does not interfere with establishing rapport with a patient or taking a good history. Most patients, I'd say, respond to note-taking as what it is -- a sign that what you are hearing is important to you -- and they appreciate that more than almost anything else.
     
  18. radioh3ad

    radioh3ad march 18th
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    maybe it's my skillz but i was fine during interviews jotting things down while maintaining enough eyecontact and dialogue to keep things running along. one of my interviewers even seemed impressed that i wrote his key points down.

    while i think the interview is more to get to know me, it always helps to keep notes on what you say and how you say it right when it happens. as well as on the interviewer and how he displays the school/answer's your questions.

    i've never had a problem writing stuff down.

    it seems strange to me how some of you can't continue a conversation when you're writing something down. messy handwriting is a must for an MD :p
     
  19. anon-y-mouse

    anon-y-mouse Senior Member
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    As a journalist (for my campus newspaper, hah), I'm used to taking notes when people are speaking. I didn't for interviews I've had already, but the upcoming ones, I want to take notes. I don't see what's so wrong or unprofessional about it, especially if I'm able to maintain eye contact, and just jot down small words and points...
     
  20. deacondan16

    deacondan16 Member
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    Thats what was saying about writing things.
    As far as what I have written, obviously I wouldn't read off of my notebook like a script, thats just not natural. But you have bullet points in front of you, the interview is high stress enough you want to make sure you get all points that you want to make about yourself into the sessions. Theres nothing worse than walking out of an interview and kicking yourself because when they say "Anything you want to ask" and you say no and think of it later
     
  21. JonnyG

    JonnyG IN the hospitals....
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    Bates guide to the physical exam says note taking should be minimized because it distracts you from the patient and to avoid it with an uncomfortable patient. <paraphrase>

    Losing eye contact with a patient is one of the worst things you can do. If you can't remember things for a few minutes when the exam is done, you need to consider how you will memorize all the other things you need to know. Besides all you have to remember is what is abnormal not what is normal. Occassionally you right a number down.
     
  22. TexPre-Med

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    No Note Taking During An Interview! To do so is rediculous. The purpose of the interview is to show your personality and your ability to interact well with others, etc. A list of questions and note-taking hints that you need help to hold a conversation and lack memorization skills.

    I brought nothing but a pen to my interviews. They usually give you a packet/folders, so you don't need anything to keep papers. Why carry around clutter? Memorize anything you need and write it down when you get home. If for some reason the interviewer explains something huge, ask him/her to e-mail you vital information. This way you show your interest, have a way to thank him/her post-interview, and stay in touch.
     
  23. BaylorGuy

    BaylorGuy Enter witty comment here
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    True, true. No note taking during an interview. I just write down some important stuff during the presentations...I.E. board score average, % passing 1st time, cost. Since i write only the important stuff, it'll make it easier to compile later on instead of having pages and pages of somewhat useless info.
     
  24. Hausdaddy24

    Hausdaddy24 Im that man fromNantucket
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    why not bring a small tape recorder to the interview. I'm sure the interviewer wouldn't mind if you asked them beforehand. that way you would have a complete record of what was said at the interview and your conversational skills would not be hindered in the slightest. This would also be useful for analyzing your own performance and to ensure that you don't forget key details of the interview (like the interviewers name/position at the school) when writing thank you notes or comparing schools.

    Just an idea, I'm not even taking the mcat until April so I'm not interviewing now but best of luck to those that are.
     
  25. QuikClot

    QuikClot Senior Member
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    We are talking about an interview, not a patient exam. And, if you'll excuse my belaboring the obvious, life's not like "Bates guide to the physical exam."

    I don't agree. In a real evaluation, you're going to be looking at your watch, at your BP cuff, at different parts of a patient's body, at whatever you're talking notes on, and so on. Long, lingering gazes do not improve the experience -- it's an patient interview, not dinner at the Ritz.

    Probably that guideline is intended for nervous people who spend their interview looking at the floor or the ceiling. If you are calm and engaged, there's no need to stare.

    No. Remembering a patient's name, age, CC, BP, HR, BR, SaO2, Co2, SAMPLE, social history, family history and so on does not draw on the same set of brain cells as memorizing thing for an exam -- let alone what you actually need to know to help people, which is another thing again.

    Hmmm. I get the impression you haven't done much pt. assessment. When you do, you'll find there's a little more to it than that.
     
  26. Law2Doc

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    Hmmm - I get the impression you haven't done much med school interviewing. :rolleyes: You may disagree with the Bates text approach in real life, which is fine (everyone adopts his own style) but this kind of approach is in fact what medical schools are teaching in terms of taking histories etc., so it stands to reason that it's the same kind of thing they are going to expect in interviews. I have some experience on the other side of the desk in terms of professional (non-medical school) type interviews, and can assure you that it would be the rare applicant that could come off well in an interview while taking notes -- the interviewer is trying to determine if you are someone he/she wants at "his/her" medical school, and it is your job to sell yourself. Getting info about the school is great, but not at the expense of making the human connection that can get you in. But everyone is entitled to his own opinion.
     
  27. radioh3ad

    radioh3ad march 18th
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    my pen is bigger than yours :p
     
  28. thegenius

    thegenius Senior Wharf Rat
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    I went to my first few interviews with the intention of writing down a few notes during the interview. Indeed, I use this strategy towards all of my software engineering interviews because I am most often asked how to write a particular function, an algorithm, etc.

    But I found that there is really nothing to write down during the interview. If there is, it's just a few notes and I will scribble it down near the very end. Usually the interviewer will mention some interesting statistic and I'll want to remember it.

    In reality, I have found very little to write down. So don't let it worry you.
     
  29. QuikClot

    QuikClot Senior Member
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    Still waiting to hear the experience that shapes your opinion.

    So that would be no experience about what we're talking about, then?

    Many people on the thread seem to feel that they have.

    But if you read what I wrote above, you'll see that I'm arguing that asking lots of questions and taking the answers seriously is part of selling yourself. Perhaps some people can't both take notes and make eye contact. If you aren't able to multitask to the extent of being able to pay attention to your interviewer while writing a few things down, or course, then note-taking is not for you.

    Indeed.
     
  30. fiddler

    fiddler Senior Member
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    There isn't a lot to take down. However, if you hear something you want to write down, it will be rather difficult to do so if you do not have a notepad.

    In any case, at the very least, you will want to get the interviewer's name down at the end of the interview so you can send a thank you note.

    I don't see why people would feel offended at you taking notes. Mostly it is a discussion so there will be no notes.

    But imagine this. you and your interview hit it off. they are telling you stuff to help you out. Whether it's someone you should contac or whatever. It would look bad if you didn't have anything to write with.

    fiddler
     
  31. radioh3ad

    radioh3ad march 18th
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    that's exactly why i always come prepared. they mean business. i mean business.

    but everyone has their own schtick. let's not get all fundamentalist now on interview tactics.
     
  32. jebus

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    rsfarrell, I'm with you. I take notes. But Law2Doc is saying that you need to make your interviewer your advocate in the adcom meeting. To do this, you need to make a personal connection and it's really hard to make that connection while your nose is pressed into a book. I see his/her point. But when the interviewer asks me if I have questions I'm going to break out my list of pre-written questions because I will have to make an important and life-altering choice later about which school I want to attend. And I will want concrete answers. Maybe I could wait until after the interview to jot a few things down, but I don't want to. It's my loss, I suppose.
     
  33. wistarrat

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    oh sigh. I had a bad experience with this a few days ago.

    Interviewer: "Ok, first I'm going to tell you about our school and then I'd like to hear a little about you."

    Me: "That sounds great. Would you mind if I jot down some notes?"

    Interviewer: "Actually yes." (awkward look)

    Me: "Umm, ooooo-K. No problem." (puts away pen)

    Interviewer proceeds to tell me her life story, and didn't tell me anything about the school. I tried my best to knock the stunned look off my face. When it came time to her conversing with me, I had already decided I wanted to go home and cry.

    That was my first choice school before that interview. :(
     
  34. Law2Doc

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    As someone apparently further down this med school path then you, I just think you are mistaken, and that trying to interview successfully while jotting down notes is a really bad idea. But good luck and I hope you can prove me wrong.
     
  35. wistarrat

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    wow... there's a conversation stopper. <insert awkward pause>

    Despite my experience, I still see nothing wrong with jotting down notes. When I interview people for undergrad or for a job, it's nice to see them taking notes because I feel they find my information important enough to remember, but most of all, they appear organized.

     

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