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Stereotyped by interviewer

sleep_addict

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    So I’m an engineering student and pretty proud of what I can do in terms of making devices that can really help people. But a student interviewer last week totally stereotyped me as boring and cutthroat before she even walked in. She made it clear that she didn’t think med school was a good choice for me. For the rest of the interview I tried to convince her that building circuits and having a desire to serve others aren’t mutually exclusive, but it just seemed useless because she didn’t seem willing to change her mind about me.

    I guess I'm most frustrated by how it didn’t seem there was anything I could do or say to change her opinion of me. Has anyone else been stereotyped like this? I’ve met people who felt it was strange that as an engineering student I was also interested in art, so why does studying engineering put limits on what unrelated activities I want to pursue? As if I could only be interested in stuff that involve lots of calculations. I would guess if you’re a biology major people wouldn’t automatically assume you’d be better suited doing research than being a doctor.
     

    Daichi Katase

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      that was just a bad interviewer.

      I am an engineer and people are very interested about that during the interviews. However, after i start to see them get a little lost after i start talking about my research, I talk about my involvement in debate, interest in history and the Daily Show....

      in your particular situation, I don't think you could have done anything. just plain bad luck!
       
      sleep_addict said:
      So I’m an engineering student and pretty proud of what I can do in terms of making devices that can really help people. But a student interviewer last week totally stereotyped me as boring and cutthroat before she even walked in. She made it clear that she didn’t think med school was a good choice for me. For the rest of the interview I tried to convince her that building circuits and having a desire to serve others aren’t mutually exclusive, but it just seemed useless because she didn’t seem willing to change her mind about me.

      I guess I'm most frustrated by how it didn’t seem there was anything I could do or say to change her opinion of me. Has anyone else been stereotyped like this? I’ve met people who felt it was strange that as an engineering student I was also interested in art, so why does studying engineering put limits on what unrelated activities I want to pursue? As if I could only be interested in stuff that involve lots of calculations. I would guess if you’re a biology major people wouldn’t automatically assume you’d be better suited doing research than being a doctor.

      Hi there,
      There is always some truth to a stereotype so examine how you come across. You cannot change anyone"s opinion of you except your own and unless you have superhuman powers, you cannot KNOW for sure, what another person actually believes. People lie all of the time amd it is a favorite interview tactic to say something controversal to see how the interviewee will handle the situation. If you make your points rationally and clearly, the rest will fall in. The only limits you have are the ones that are self-imposed. If I believed in stereotypes, I would be doing laundry or selling cocaine for a living. Instead, I am a surgeon.

      njbmd :)
       
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      nicko18

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        I know in our interviews, we had a 'good cop', a 'bad cop' and a 'neutral cop'. One person is really nice, another is ambivalent, and the third guy just acts as if he doesn't believe a word you're saying and practically asks why you bothered turning up.

        It's all part of the interview process to see how you handle yourself.

        BTW: Research is the backbone of evidence based medicine. Being an engineer, show how you understand why research underpins modern medicine and why it is so important.

        The most cliche'd and overused euphamism is "im doing medicine to help people". I hope you didn't use that as your reason for being there, because there are plenty of occupations (volunteers, social workers, nurses), where you can help people, so you've got to convey your sense of vocation, why you want to be a doctor and not the aforementioned.
         

        Songeur

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          sleep_addict said:
          I’ve met people who felt it was strange that as an engineering student I was also interested in art


          For me, I can see how engineering is very similar to "art" in the traditional sense of the word. I am sorry you had that experience. Sounds like you were in the presence of of ignorance. :(
           

          Law2Doc

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            sleep_addict said:
            So I’m an engineering student and pretty proud of what I can do in terms of making devices that can really help people. But a student interviewer last week totally stereotyped me as boring and cutthroat before she even walked in. She made it clear that she didn’t think med school was a good choice for me. For the rest of the interview I tried to convince her that building circuits and having a desire to serve others aren’t mutually exclusive, but it just seemed useless because she didn’t seem willing to change her mind about me.

            I guess I'm most frustrated by how it didn’t seem there was anything I could do or say to change her opinion of me. Has anyone else been stereotyped like this? I’ve met people who felt it was strange that as an engineering student I was also interested in art, so why does studying engineering put limits on what unrelated activities I want to pursue? As if I could only be interested in stuff that involve lots of calculations. I would guess if you’re a biology major people wouldn’t automatically assume you’d be better suited doing research than being a doctor.

            In a way that's not a bad interview, because it definitely gives you an opening to talk about how your prior studies relate to medicine, or piqued your interest, etc. Sounds like an interview where you needed to be less passive and be more of an proponent of engineers in medicine. Perhaps you needed to take control of this misconception and spin it to your advantage, focus on your science and research skills and bring up other points that would make you a good physician (i.e. make lemons into lemonade). Bear in mind that not every interviewer is readable, and they may have just been playing devil's advocate to see how you would defend yourself (a time honored interviewing technique in the business world, but less frequently used in academic interviews).
             

            sleep_addict

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              I don’t get the feeling that this interviewer was purposely confrontational, because during the short intervals that she let me speak it looked a lot like she was using the time to formulate what she was going to say next. I like being challenged on something I can clearly defend as long as the person is willing to listen. You're right though, I can't know if I read her correctly. Either way, I need to stop complaining about her.

              Actually it was engineering projects and research jobs that first got me in the OR, patient rooms, and forced me to think about the impact of disease before I got any pure volunteering/clinical experiences. I don’t have a problem explaining how all my experiences fit together, like how the critical thinking in engineering applies to making a diagnosis and problem-solving as a doctor, and how art and engineering both require a lot of creativity to make something from scratch. But do you guys think it’s necessary that I explain all that I’ve done in terms of how they relate to medicine? I guess that makes sense at a med school interview.

              Thanks for the input. It definitely helps. :) Of course there’s more I can think of to say now than I did at the moment, but at least I was not passive.
               

              isobel

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                luckily in my experience as an engineer, people tend to assume that i'm smarter than the average applicant and have a much more solid science/math background. works for me. and i did BME so no one thinks it's a stretch for me to want to be a doctor.
                 

                sleep_addict

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                  isobel said:
                  luckily in my experience as an engineer, people tend to assume that i'm smarter than the average applicant and have a much more solid science/math background. works for me. and i did BME so no one thinks it's a stretch for me to want to be a doctor.

                  hehe I'm also BME. I agree that usually people are very receptive to that.
                   

                  chef_NU

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                    Same, although I've had the opposite experience. I've had 2 of my interviewers straight up at the beginning tell me "I think BME is a great way to prepare for medical school." Go figure. Although in one of those interviews we spent a good deal of time discussing hip-hop and who our favorite rappers were. Usually I find if you palm them a ben franklin at the beginning of the interview, things go pretty smoothly. That, or bring a 6-pack.
                     
                    That sucks. I'm sorry you had a bad interview - I'd be pretty frustrated too. The upshot is that you really don't know what she was thinking. It's possible that this was just an act to see how you would react. If you're really interested in medicine, then that hopefully was able to shine through.
                     

                    prana_md

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                      Can't you request another interview in extreme circumstances? I had a similar interview last year -- got stereotyped for my SoCal origins -- and in retrospect I should have spoken up about it. I wish I could remember where I read about "re-do" interviews ...
                       

                      BooMed

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                        nicko18 said:
                        I know in our interviews, we had a 'good cop', a 'bad cop' and a 'neutral cop'. One person is really nice, another is ambivalent, and the third guy just acts as if he doesn't believe a word you're saying and practically asks why you bothered turning up.

                        Wow, that is really strange. That seems way too complicated to organize, but that is EXACTLY how my interviews were, even in that order. Weird.
                         
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                        lilxixi

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                          sleep_addict said:
                          So I’m an engineering student and pretty proud of what I can do in terms of making devices that can really help people. But a student interviewer last week totally stereotyped me as boring and cutthroat before she even walked in. She made it clear that she didn’t think med school was a good choice for me. For the rest of the interview I tried to convince her that building circuits and having a desire to serve others aren’t mutually exclusive, but it just seemed useless because she didn’t seem willing to change her mind about me.


                          Maybe she had a BF who was EE and he constantly bashed pre-med being so easy. She was just probably taking her anger out on you~ j/k :)
                           

                          werd

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                            you'd think that med students of all people would be sensitive to the ills of stereotyping... you should have responded by calling the interviewer a booksmart cut-throat cadaver-kisser. seriously, i think that's probably a rare experience... as i recall engineers have one of the highest acceptance rates for med school. good luck in becoming a cadaver kisser yourself :luck:
                             

                            banana k

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                              after one of my interviews, i had to fill out a "how do you think WE did" questionnaire asking whether i felt the interviewers were biased and if so how... sounds like this might be called for in more schools.

                              then again, that might be weird with stress interviews. hmm.
                               

                              funshine

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                                Wow, I'm sorry. I hope you have called the admissions office and told them your situation? They might be able to tell you whether it's worth redoing your interview...I guess what's done is done though. We all have the occasional interview that doesn't go as planned. I don't think it's your fault at all. Student interviewers can often be more judgmental than older interviewers simply because they're young, they lack experience, and they often have preconceived notions of how the ideal premed should be. On the other hand, some student interviewers are wonderful. It sucks that you had to meet a bad one. If you're stereotyped in the future, I would keep my calm and actually tell them (gently) to their faces, that 1.) they're stereotyping and 2.) it doesn't fit you. If your interview goes badly after that, I'd go straight to the admissions office, explain what happened, and get a new interviewer.

                                PS: When interviews go badly b/c your interviewer was hostile/stupid/whatever, don't you wish you could just redo the whole interview with them and this time, instead of being all deferential and polite, just say EXACTLY what was on your mind? :D

                                sleep_addict said:
                                So I’m an engineering student and pretty proud of what I can do in terms of making devices that can really help people. But a student interviewer last week totally stereotyped me as boring and cutthroat before she even walked in. She made it clear that she didn’t think med school was a good choice for me. For the rest of the interview I tried to convince her that building circuits and having a desire to serve others aren’t mutually exclusive, but it just seemed useless because she didn’t seem willing to change her mind about me.

                                I guess I'm most frustrated by how it didn’t seem there was anything I could do or say to change her opinion of me. Has anyone else been stereotyped like this? I’ve met people who felt it was strange that as an engineering student I was also interested in art, so why does studying engineering put limits on what unrelated activities I want to pursue? As if I could only be interested in stuff that involve lots of calculations. I would guess if you’re a biology major people wouldn’t automatically assume you’d be better suited doing research than being a doctor.
                                 

                                Jon Davis

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                                  sleep_addict said:
                                  So I’m an engineering student and pretty proud of what I can do in terms of making devices that can really help people. But a student interviewer last week totally stereotyped me as boring and cutthroat before she even walked in. She made it clear that she didn’t think med school was a good choice for me. For the rest of the interview I tried to convince her that building circuits and having a desire to serve others aren’t mutually exclusive, but it just seemed useless because she didn’t seem willing to change her mind about me.

                                  I guess I'm most frustrated by how it didn’t seem there was anything I could do or say to change her opinion of me. Has anyone else been stereotyped like this? I’ve met people who felt it was strange that as an engineering student I was also interested in art, so why does studying engineering put limits on what unrelated activities I want to pursue? As if I could only be interested in stuff that involve lots of calculations. I would guess if you’re a biology major people wouldn’t automatically assume you’d be better suited doing research than being a doctor.


                                  Personally, I would have punched her in the nose. I hate close minded people. I would have said something like, "Well, you're wearing black, that must mean you are a depressed person." (Obviously applies if she was wearing something black, duh.) I would have flipped it on her. If and IF, she were smart she would pick up on it.
                                   
                                  I

                                  indigoblue

                                    one of my interviewers at USUHS was perplexed at why I would apply there because he saw I went to Berkeley. He assumed that just because I went to one of the most liberal universities in the US, I don't support the government. he maintained that the two schools are on the opposite sides of the political spectrum.
                                     

                                    sleep_addict

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                                      HAHAHA you guys are awesome. Ranting on SDN was a great idea. :D

                                      I won't name the school, but its current student body does not have much diversity in educational background leading up to med school, and I have a feeling my student interviewer might not the only person there with this kind of attitude, even if they're not as disagreeable as she was. So in a way it's good to have seen this during the visit.

                                      In general, I feel like I have to be more careful about being stereotyped when interviewing with students.

                                      Thanks for making me laugh!
                                       

                                      Paws

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                                        I had an interview where I felt like the person was drilling me to find out where the bodies where of the people I had probably killed, or looking for the time I spent in jail or in a mental house. I know that sounds weird, but this guy kept asking me things about tiny gaps in time on my application. He kept saying what did you do, where and why. He never was friendly, never asked me personal or friendly questions (or even any medical questions!) and made it clear that he was not impressed by me or what I was saying. This was at Albany, that's right: ALBANY. I don't mind saying it.

                                        I had had stress interviews at other schools and felt they were on my side but also wanted to see how I would respond, etc. Those were decent, but tough interviewers - and one school accepted me within a week of my interview! So, I guess I can handle a good stress interview ok.

                                        But the interviewers in general at Albany were really sloppy and terrible. The first guy was awful - and seemed disappointed that I had no weird baggage to reveal - but the second guy was some old geezer who kept rambling and muttering about his past glories and whatever. He asked me where I came from and then went on for about 20 minutes about how he had driven thru there once, blah blah blah.

                                        I did not get accepted but I have often wondered why they bothered to even interview me? Why waste my $$$? Sterotyped, yes, I felt I was and no matter what I said the first guy just seemed to dislike me even more. Awful.
                                         

                                        Sicilian

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                                          sleep_addict said:
                                          So I’m an engineering student and pretty proud of what I can do in terms of making devices that can really help people. But a student interviewer last week totally stereotyped me as boring and cutthroat before she even walked in. She made it clear that she didn’t think med school was a good choice for me. For the rest of the interview I tried to convince her that building circuits and having a desire to serve others aren’t mutually exclusive, but it just seemed useless because she didn’t seem willing to change her mind about me.

                                          I guess I'm most frustrated by how it didn’t seem there was anything I could do or say to change her opinion of me. Has anyone else been stereotyped like this? I’ve met people who felt it was strange that as an engineering student I was also interested in art, so why does studying engineering put limits on what unrelated activities I want to pursue? As if I could only be interested in stuff that involve lots of calculations. I would guess if you’re a biology major people wouldn’t automatically assume you’d be better suited doing research than being a doctor.

                                          A lot of people find math, essentially what keeps ppl away from engineering, intimidating. I bet your interviewer was one of them. Its a walk in the park to go through undergrad memorizing some isolated facts, and then assume ppl who took the time to figure out the math are sterile super-nerds. Bio is so different from the physical sciences, if you try to compare the two, its like OMFG!
                                           

                                          gary5

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                                            People from technical backgrounds tend to lack social skills (general rule). And so, during your interview, if your social skills are lacking, you're done. Be sure to be enthusiastic, socially appropriate, and explain several experiences where you enjoyed helping patients and why. Whatever you do, don't give short answers. Maybe request to do a mock interview with your premed advisor. Med schools pay special attention to how techies behave. If you're friendly, likable, and authentic, you'll be fine.
                                             

                                            PreMedPeter

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                                              I am a computer science major and i feel your pain. On my last interview i was explaining to my bioinformatics publication to my interviewer only to see a blank face staring back at me the whole time.

                                              Towards the end of the interview though, he explained to me that engineers usually have the stereotype of being smart but lacking social skills. So he advised me to focus on emphasising my social skills during interviews (Don't worry he said my social skills are just fine =]) So maybe you could try that next time?

                                              -Peter
                                              P.S. If anyone out there is also CS, please PM me and give me advice on how to explain programming principles to a med student! =]
                                               

                                              Irish_Rain33

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                                                I have not met with this in an interview. However, I have met with this from the biology department at my school they really are like "you like novels get out of here". Isn't the study of language really the study of communication and therefore one of the greatest assests of helping people? I guess the best you can do with that is minimize the speaking of intricate details of why you love engineering and focus all your attention on why you want to be a doctor and how engineering helped you with your core classes, etc. This has worked to some extent for me. Apparently no one wants to hear my battle for the evolution of the english language!

                                                -Irish
                                                 

                                                sleep_addict

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                                                  gary5 said:
                                                  People from technical backgrounds tend to lack social skills (general rule). And so, during your interview, if your social skills are lacking, you're done. Be sure to be enthusiastic, socially appropriate, and explain several experiences where you enjoyed helping patients and why. Whatever you do, don't give short answers. Maybe request to do a mock interview with your premed advisor. Med schools pay special attention to how techies behave. If you're friendly, likable, and authentic, you'll be fine.

                                                  ouch! I guess it's true my people have lower standards for acceptable social behavior. But a lot of the times it's also true that these people are more approachable just because they're less intimidating and care more about what you have to say than your social etiquette.

                                                  Sounds like your idea of what we engineers are like is made up of the kind of assumptions I'm afraid my interviewers might make before they give me a chance.

                                                  Anyway, I came back to this thread to say I was accepted today. Maybe I shouldn't have been so harsh. :)
                                                   

                                                  sleep_addict

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                                                    PreMedPeter said:
                                                    I am a computer science major and i feel your pain. On my last interview i was explaining to my bioinformatics publication to my interviewer only to see a blank face staring back at me the whole time.

                                                    Towards the end of the interview though, he explained to me that engineers usually have the stereotype of being smart but lacking social skills. So he advised me to focus on emphasising my social skills during interviews (Don't worry he said my social skills are just fine =]) So maybe you could try that next time?

                                                    -Peter
                                                    P.S. If anyone out there is also CS, please PM me and give me advice on how to explain programming principles to a med student! =]

                                                    Over dinner with my mom (a CS person) last week, I mentioned an interesting experiment we did in a psych. class to show that if your left and right eye receive different inputs, the image you perceive switches between the two, but you never see both at one time. She started talking excitedly about how that's exactly like sending packets of information over the internet and how you can write different algorithms to prioritize. She talked a long time about these programs she used to write and how awesome they were.
                                                     

                                                    almost_there

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                                                      sleep_addict said:
                                                      Over dinner with my mom (a CS person) last week, I mentioned an interesting experiment we did in a psych. class to show that if your left and right eye receive different inputs, the image you perceive switches between the two, but you never see both at one time. She started talking excitedly about how that's exactly like sending packets of information over the internet and how you can write different algorithms to prioritize. She talked a long time about these programs she used to write and how awesome they were.

                                                      Heh... I can see that. But that's interesting... does that mean that there's a bottleneck/switch at some point in the pathway between the eyes and the brain? And a switch with REALLY slow switch times (from a biological perspective)...

                                                      Congrats on the acceptance! Does sound like it was a deliberate stress-type interview. Or else your interviewer got overruled. :)

                                                      a_t
                                                       
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