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Question about Student Interviews

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by medworm, Nov 30, 2005.

  1. medworm

    medworm Senior Member
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    Are these supposed to be informal and what should be discussed? Should it be more like a chat about my social and private life, rather than trying to impress them with my achievements?

    At my first student interview, I was asked "why did you change your career" and "so what are you really like?" I was unsure what to expect, so I got formal with my tone in explaining my motivation and then listed my recreational activities. I didn't loosen up, so in the end there wasn't any chemistry in the conversation. :(

    Now that I look back, I'm kicking myself for taking the student interview so seriously when I should've just chatted freely about my hobbies. I think I have an idea of what I should have done, but are there any standards? Suggestions greatly appreciated. Thanks.
     
  2. NapeSpikes

    NapeSpikes Believe, hon.
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    Definitely not. Interviews conducted by students are still formal. Of course, it depends on the personality/style of the interviewer, but I think you did the right thing in keeping it formal.

    On second thought, since you say you had no chemistry, maybe we differ in our opinion on what is "formal"? When I say formal, I mean polite, respectful, friendly, professional, etc.
     
  3. RustNeverSleeps

    RustNeverSleeps Walker, Texas Ranger
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    Student interviews are most definitely formal, and not treating them as such would be a huge mistake. I have several times had to mark down applicants for being way too informal during an interview. It might be okay to act that way with some interviewers, but in general it demonstrates poor judgment and a lack of respect/knowledge for the situation. You encounter plenty of students during tours, lunches, sitting in the admissions office, etc. -- feel free to be informal with them, but definitely do not be overly casual with your interviewers, no matter what their age. (That doesn't mean don't have a personality, though! :p )
     
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  4. oompa loompa

    oompa loompa Senior Member
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    the student interviewers I had seemed to take themselves and their responsibility verrrrrrrry seriously, so I think you were wise to keep it formal so long as you're not too uptight. I know this becaues I made the opposite mistake of becoming relaxed and a little too honest. :oops:
     
  5. MeowMix

    MeowMix Explaining "Post-Call"
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    It's somewhere in between a chat about your life, and a listing of your fantastic accomplishments. Professional, but friendly.

    It's your chance to put your nice personality on display, in the context of being someone who is absolutely capable of dealing with the academic demands of med school. Demonstrate depth of thought, understanding of subtleties, how you think about difficult issues that you might encounter in medicine. How will you deal with stress? how will you interact with other students? will you bring a professional attitude to your studies and your work?

    What you talk about depends on your application. If your grades and MCAT suck, you want to demonstrate intellectual capacity under stress. If you have a 4.0 and a 40, you don't need to demonstrate intellectual capacity; instead, demonstrate your well-rounded personality and ability to talk to people in a professional setting. Your social and private life are not topics of conversation in this context (in my opinion).
     
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  6. unicorn06

    unicorn06 Senior Member
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    It's hard to strike the right balance with the student interviews because you obviously want to show respect and professionalism by keeping things formal, but you also want to show that you have personality and are not just a resume. It's hard to show the student that you're a fun person who he or she would want at the med school while at the same time keeping the respectful, reserved dynamic in tact. This is why I much prefer the faculty interviews. The interviewee's role is more defined, and I (generally) know what to expect. On the other hand, maybe I'm misinterpreting the faculty interview. Maybe the faculty are also looking for some of the qualities that we attribute more readily to student interviewers....
     
  7. Faust

    Faust Senior Member
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    Just be yourself.
     
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  8. badlydrawnvik

    badlydrawnvik Senior Member
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    find stuff in common, i had a great time talking with one of my student interviews because we had three hobbies in common.
     
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  9. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    Student interviews can be a little awkward for non-trads if you're a lot older than the interviewer. I think that remaining formal is entirely appropriate; for example, you should avoid using slang, delving into controversial topics, or kicking off your shoes. If you always keep in mind that this person is evaluating you to decide whether you belong in that med school, you won't have a problem with being too casual.
     
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  10. unicorn06

    unicorn06 Senior Member
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    Hmm yeah, I'm 21 so I didn't think about how awkward the student interview could be for non-trads. Have you non-trads had any issues dealing with this issue?
     
  11. exmike

    exmike NOR * CAL
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    exactly
     
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  12. Hawkeye Kid

    Hawkeye Kid Senior Member
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    I think of this as "normal" rather than "formal." I have a hard time understanding why you would be anything other than the above with anyone (or at least ALMOST anyone ;) )

    As someone who has been interviewed by students, interviewed students, and is now being interviewed by residents (the residency application equivalent) I would echo everyone's comments and say that you should err on the side of formality. Ideally, the interviewer will set the tone early and you can follow their lead. You should, however, always be a bit more formal than the interviewer. For example, if the interviewer kicks their feet up on the table, you're probably safe relaxing your posture a bit but you shouldn't kick up your feet as well.

    A lot depends on their role (perceived or dictated) in the interview process. Personally, I see my purpose as being a representative of the student body to a) answer questions and b) try to determine if the applicant fits our student body (ie. would they fit in and contribute in a positive way). I make it a point of outlining this at the beginning of the interview and hopefully this helps put prospies at ease. This doesn't mean I don't expect to see some professionalism, but I also expect you to act like a person and my potential peer. As someone mentioned, some student interviewers do take their role (too?) seriously and many times applicants will say that this is the hardest/weirdest interview. In these instances take the high road and act a bit more foramally than you might like. (Don't you just love playing this game?)

    At the same time, you absolutely should not act like something you're not. I can't imagine talking to someone my age like they're 20 years my senior (yes, sir...no, ma'am...etc) and I wouldn't do it just to stroke their ego or to maintain some arbitrary level of formality. After all, these are your potential schoolmates and a M1 would never call a M4 Mr/Mrs/etc--and the M4 shouldn't let them, let alone expect it. But I also wouldn't drop Napoleon Dynamite references with someone that acted like this was a super-serious interview. During my (very relaxed) student interview at MCW I was having a hard time conveying my point when I realized that a scene from Seinfeld summed it up very well. I mentioned that, the guy got it and our conversation took off from there. I think that was key--both in helping me get in and in making the decision to come here. In the end, you just have to feel it out and go with the flow, which is really what you have to do every day in medicine.

    Hopefully this helps a bit. If it helps further, I agree with you that the student interview should be more relaxed than others and that students that dictate otherwise are doing a disservice to the applicant and their school. I know I have a few classmates that do this and it annoys me and most of my classmates to no end. It should be more of a peer-peer type thing, regardless of age, and hopefully that's what you'll experience the majority of the time. Good luck with the rest of your interviews and feel free to PM me or post other questions that come up.
     
  13. QofQuimica

    QofQuimica Seriously, dude, I think you're overreacting....
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    I wouldn't say I've had "issues," but sometimes it's just hard to find common ground. Student interviewers tend to universally like to ask what I do in my spare time. Since I don't do a lot of the things that a typical person in his/her early 20s would do, sometimes a question that the interviewer intends to use as an icebreaker ends up being difficult for me to answer. Ask me what my favorite movie or TV show is, which would be an easy question for most interviewees, and I'm going to struggle to come up with one. I have no idea when the last time I went to the movies was, and I don't watch TV. Most of the interviews have still gone well, though, because I've had some unusual work experiences that that the interviewers wanted to hear more about. Plus, it's not that I don't have any hobbies at all. It's just that I am not going to get a Seinfeld reference if Hawkeye makes one, unless he explains the whole story line. :smuggrin:
     
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  14. medworm

    medworm Senior Member
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    I agree. I definitely don't want to come across as immature for my age. When I was taking my postbacc classes, running around in jeans and goofing around with my 19-year-old classmates, many of them really thought that I was just a couple of years older. But in talking to the professors and staff who are in their 40s and 50s, they actually can spot the maturity.

    I actually feel that my student interviewers were a bit green and inexperienced with interviewing. But anyhow, I'll be sure to tread more carefully in my next student interview. Thanks for all the input! :)
     
  15. angietron3000

    angietron3000 *black magic soul power*
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    I talked to a guy who recently graduated from UCLA med & he said the student interview is almost more important than the faculty interview.. food for thought..
     
  16. TheMightyAngus

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    What's the rationale behind this? Few students are members of the adcom. Most of the adcom are composed of faculty members who interact with each other regularly. So wouldn't the adcom more likely take into account their colleagues opinions rather than some MS1 they've had limited interaction with?
     
  17. VFTW

    VFTW Member
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    I've interviewed people who were very, very informal with me and it REALLY put me off. Just because we're the same age, don't think that you can treat this interview less seriously. You're still an applicant to my school and I am evaluating you. Show respect for the process and act normally - not like we're best buddies. I had one guy who started asking me questions about my hobbies, friends, hometown, family, etc, before I could even ask him anything. I found this to be totally inappropriate. He didn't get a good eval from me for that reason.
     

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