Sep 17, 2015
15
6
Status
Pre-Medical
Hey everyone! I'm a long-time reader, first-time poster. Hope you can help:

OK, so I just came back from my first interview at a med school, and one of my interviewers cuts in midway through, and tells me that "in general, I should speak less hard."

I was genuinely thrown for a loop, because if you talk to any of my friends or family members, they'll tell you that I talk at a quieter level than the average person. I try to aim for the sound level that doctors speak at to their patients. I do take care to enunciate my words, however, and especially in the South (where this school was), I definitely tend to stick out, particularly for a woman.

What do you guys think? Am I interpreting this wrong? Is this some weird form of sexism? Did it hurt my chances at this school?

Thanks for any advice!
 
OP
H
Sep 17, 2015
15
6
Status
Pre-Medical
are you a New Yorker?
Ahaha, nope! I am actually a native Georgian, but I went to college in North Carolina. I try to speak clearly and enunciate my consonants and vowels, though. While overall, I think patients (especially foreign or just people not used to southern accents) have appreciated this, I do think it's pretty unusual for a young woman in Georgia to speak like I do.

EDIT: I should say that during my time in undergrad, I met students from all over the country and I was definitely on the lower end of the scale in terms of loudness or harshness.
 

Chir0nex

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Aug 22, 2011
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Honestly I have no idea what "talking hard" is supposed to mean. My only thought is that rather than volume it may refer to being too intense in the conversation (i.e interrupting, jumping on questions, expressing very black and white thinking). Are any of these things that you are know to do/have been told about in the past?
 

Goro

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Without any context and with the little info that you've given us, I interpreted the comment as either, you were too harsh on something, trying to hard to come up with something, oe that you were speaking in jargon or technical language instead of clear, plain English.
 
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OP
H
Sep 17, 2015
15
6
Status
Pre-Medical
Honestly I have no idea what "talking hard" is supposed to mean. My only thought is that rather than volume it may refer to being too intense in the conversation (i.e interrupting, jumping on questions, expressing very black and white thinking). Are any of these things that you are know to do/have been told about in the past?
Hmm...I did think that perhaps he might have meant the content of my answers rather than the delivery, but to be honest, I find it rude to speak so quickly after a question, or to even interrupt a lecture to ask a question.
And I try to be as neutral as possible in interviews and to give both sides, so no black and white thinking (or at least I hope I didn't come off as that). No one's ever accused me of anything like that before.
 
OP
H
Sep 17, 2015
15
6
Status
Pre-Medical
Without any context and with the little info that you've given us, I interpreted the comment as either, you were too harsh on something, trying to hard to come up with something, oe that you were speaking in jargon or technical language instead of clear, plain English.
You know, I didn't think of the possibility that I might have come off as trying too hard. That may have been a possibility--he asked if I had done any preparation for the interview before telling me that I spoke "too hard". (I did not sit down and type/write out my answers to possible questions, but perhaps the way I delivered my answers sounded a little rehearsed?)

And jargon/technical terms never really popped up--they were all basic questions like, "why medicine" or "what do you think you want the admissions committee to know about you".
 

Goro

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It might also be possible that you were talking too loud.
 
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StudyLater

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I did not sit down and type/write out my answers to possible questions, but perhaps the way I delivered my answers sounded a little rehearsed?
Sounds about right. This pisses them off. The idea is if you do rehearse, don't sound rehearsed.
 

StudyLater

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And if you don't rehearse (like I did not), you should still not sound rehearsed ;)
I think my years of TA-ing have screwed me over. Darn my ability to pull out answers while sounding like I know things ;)
Yeah if I talked to my interviewer like I do when I TA, I would definitely get the same comment.
 
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Holmwood

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Hey everyone! I'm a long-time reader, first-time poster. Hope you can help:

OK, so I just came back from my first interview at a med school, and one of my interviewers cuts in midway through, and tells me that "in general, I should speak less hard."

I was genuinely thrown for a loop, because if you talk to any of my friends or family members, they'll tell you that I talk at a quieter level than the average person. I try to aim for the sound level that doctors speak at to their patients. I do take care to enunciate my words, however, and especially in the South (where this school was), I definitely tend to stick out, particularly for a woman.

What do you guys think? Am I interpreting this wrong? Is this some weird form of sexism? Did it hurt my chances at this school?

Thanks for any advice!
Well, you shouldn't jump to the conclusion that the interviewer was sexist... lol.

You're more comfortable around family members, but not necessarily with a stranger. Maybe your enunciations were throwing people off. I also think @StudyLater may be on to something in that you might have been trying too hard to answer the question in a way that it sounds perfect. The "why medicine" and "tell me about yourself" type questions tend to be rehearsed alot (as it is the recommendation), but that can work against you in making you sound disingenuous.

I would dismiss the possibility that you were overly one-sided or harsh in your words because the interviewer was asking about questions to get to know more about you and not necessarily the MMI stuff. Unless there were some aspect of your "why medicine" story that involved slandering an institution or individual... which could be interpreted as being "too hard".
 
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Holmwood

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It's possible. I could see someone being less forgiving about being "hard" with a woman than with a man, based on expected gender roles.
Well I do recall there being another thread about an interviewer (maybe down south) who basically told a woman interviewee to not consider medicine and focus on traditional roles like child bearing. . . So okay, I see your point.

@HundleBumble, was your interviewer by any chance an older gentleman?
 
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StudyLater

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Well I do recall there being another thread about an interviewer (maybe down south) who basically told a woman interviewee to not consider medicine and focus on traditional roles like child bearing. . . So okay, I see your point.

@HundleBumble, was your interviewer by any chance an older gentleman?
That's hilarious. But yeah, I mean, particularly with the region we're talking about, this kind of discrimination becomes much more likely.

Even if it was a woman, it's possible.
 
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OP
H
Sep 17, 2015
15
6
Status
Pre-Medical
No slandering was involved in the production of this interview. But yeah, to reiterate, I am very conscious of the way I deliver answers or speak to people, so I think it's less likely that my volume or tone was off-putting. I also don't know why he would comment on my enunciation in the middle of our interview (or ever, really--feels weird to comment on someone's accent).

As far as the rehearsal goes, perhaps I'll actually rehearse my answers, but instead of rehearsing the "perfect' response, I'll try to sound more unsure ;)

As for the sexism possibility (and I don't really think that 's the case here--just throwing it out there to see if someone else had experienced this), a lot of my friends have gotten all sorts of weirdly sexist comments on their interviews (assumptions about family goals, even about genres of books they like to read) so it's definitely a thing that still happens, unfortunately.
 
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OP
H
Sep 17, 2015
15
6
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Pre-Medical
Well I do recall there being another thread about an interviewer (maybe down south) who basically told a woman interviewee to not consider medicine and focus on traditional roles like child bearing. . . So okay, I see your point.

@HundleBumble, was your interviewer by any chance an older gentleman?
He was around 60 or so, so perhaps that played a role. But yes, I agree that one shouldn't jump to accusing people of sexism/racism/other biases. Really, it's hard to actually KNOW the reason for so many odd comments, though sexism definitely still does pop up in admissions (and in daily life haha).
 

StudyLater

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No slandering was involved in the production of this interview. But yeah, to reiterate, I am very conscious of the way I deliver answers or speak to people, so I think it's less likely that my volume or tone was off-putting. I also don't know why he would comment on my enunciation in the middle of our interview (or ever, really--feels weird to comment on someone's accent).
Agreed on this point. It's possible you just got a weird person for an interviewer. Can't win em all.

As far as the rehearsal goes, perhaps I'll actually rehearse my answers, but instead of rehearsing the "perfect' response, I'll try to sound more unsure ;)
Now you're thinking like a future accepted med student.

As for the sexism possibility (and I don't really think that 's the case here--just throwing it out there to see if someone else had experienced this), a lot of my friends have gotten all sorts of weirdly sexist comments on their interviews (assumptions about family goals, even about genres of books they like to read) so it's definitely a thing that still happens, unfortunately.
I mean...it's no worse than constantly getting, "What sports you play, big guy?" etc. Just part of being a certain gender, or even looking a certain way. I highly doubt anyone means to be offensive with it -- it's just making conversation; and with nothing else to go on, outright appearance seems like the most ready thing to latch onto.
 
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OP
H
Sep 17, 2015
15
6
Status
Pre-Medical
Agreed on this point. It's possible you just got a weird person for an interviewer. Can't win em all.



Now you're thinking like a future accepted med student.



I mean...it's no worse than constantly getting, "What sports you play, big guy?" etc. Just part of being a certain gender, or even looking a certain way. I highly doubt anyone means to be offensive with it -- it's just making conversation; and with nothing else to go on, outright appearance seems like the most ready thing to latch onto.
:D I really am glad I posted here, I still am not 100% sure on the exact reason for his comment about my "talking too hard", but I have learned better ways to prepare for my next interviews!

And yes, no one ever means to be sexist/racist/prejudiced, unless they're just terrible people. I do think that "benevolent sexism" (whether against male or female) can definitely have an impact over time on someone's confidence or abilities, or on overall society in general. But yes! I've definitely had times when I found myself building assumptions based off appearance.
 
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Law2Doc

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There's one possible explanation left out of this discussion. Maybe he understood your accent fine but you didn't understand his? I've met lots of interviewers who mumbled, talked into their hands, stuttered and the like. Are you really sure he said talking and/or hard or is that what you inferred? Talking too hard doesn't really make sense but maybe he suggesting you were working too hard or something like that. Or he said talking too loud and you heard hard. The possibilities are endless, but most make more sense than talking hard.

And I don't really get the leap to a concern for sexism in this thread -- nothing from OPs post suggests this at all. The guy is likely even handed, maybe prefers women applicants, and maybe had even more issues with the prior male interviewees. We have no reason to suspect otherwise. He didn't say anything sexist, he presumably had issues with OPs style/volume/preparedness. Unless you are suggesting that any interview flub by a female applicant is always really concerning for sexism at work, which is a bizarre and ugly world you are living in.