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The Invasive Interview - My Lousy Experience

Discussion in 'Pre-Medical - MD' started by dfleis, Jan 25, 2001.

  1. dfleis

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    [This message has been edited by dfleis (edited 01-25-2001).]
    [This message has been edited by dfleis (edited 01-25-2001).]
     
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  3. jimi

    jimi Senior Member
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    dfleis:

    I totally know what you mean. At two of my interviews they asked me what was the worst/saddest time of your life!

    It just happens that it was just that: the worst time of my life and was also extremely personal!!! I was not about to tell it to some stranger who will write a report about it and then discuss it with a gazillion other strangers, sub-committees, etc. etc. I cringed when I heard the question because I immediately knew I couldn't really talk about the real answer.

    So what I did was I went to worst time #2. That is, the next worst thing that ever happened to me. Which was obviously not as bad and I felt a little silly talking about it.

    What made it worse was that the lady looked at me with this weird look and said: "Well let's hope that's the worst thing that ever happened to you."

    What does that mean???????!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Anyway, the experience was awkward but in retrospect I'm happy I didn't discuss the real situaion because I would have probably broken down and that would have been REAL awkward!

    I don't think it's really required to change your personality completely to get into medicine. You shouldn't compromise your beliefs but at the same time you gotta give 'em something to report. [​IMG]
     
  4. Linie

    Linie Senior Member
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    That sucks that you had such a bad experience. I'm interviewing for residency myself, and I sat down ahead of time and considered my answers to possible questions, and even wrote them out ahead of time. I think it's a good idea to do this, even though you may not ever get to show off your well-thought out answers. Typical questions are about your strengths, weaknesses, times when you've let yourself down, things you've done that you've been proud of, times when you have shown leadership or creativity, what you would change about your current institution, anything you would like to change about yourself.... etc.

    The key to preparing your answers is to turn the negative questions into positive things, and don't EVER, EVER say anything negative about anyone or anything else. Example 1: one of my weaknesses is that I work too hard, and sometimes don't take enough time for myself because I tend to get involved in too many activities. If you say it sincerely, and you have some sort of reasonable context to put it in, like you're not coming off a 5-month vacation-tour of Europe, your interviewer will eat it right up. Example 2: One thing I would change about my current job is that I would give myself more responsibility, because even though I'm new there, I've seen a few ways that they could improve their current system (be sure to be able to back this up). Example 3: One way that I let myself down was that I shed a tear in front of a patient when I told him he had metastatic cancer.

    For one med school interview, I was asked (at the end of a very good interview I thought), "So, it sounds like your life has been pretty good. Has anything BAD ever happened to you?" He caught me WAY off guard, and I didn't really feel much like getting into negative, sad things with this stranger. I honestly don't recall what I said, but I pretty much balked. Reflecting on it, I guess I could have turned it to my advantage (and I know my answer for it if it's ever asked in the future).

    Finally, always remember that all interviews are two-way, and you are evaluating them as much as they are evaluating you. Feel free to remind them of this -- in a tactful way of course. Example: Q, What do you have to offer this school? A, My enthusiasm and energy, my ability to lead and to see projects through to the end. What sorts of opportunities are available for people like me at your institution?

    It may sound cheeseball in writing, but believe me, when you look someone in the eye and say it with a straight face, you make a big impresssion. You should always be your own best advocate, and you can do it all humbly, without seeming like a jerk. Sincerity it key.

    ------------------
    Linie
     
  5. zb

    zb

    As usual, Linie makes excellent points (loved your comments on grades in the Hopkins posts).

    In interviewing for residencies, I've had very similar experiences. Yes, the "right" responses sound cheesy but yes, they are what is required and you do have to put your absolute BEST foot forward because that will be their only impression of you.

    And all I can say of people who ask you the worst experience of your life and ACTUALLY expect you to truthfully disclose that kind of personal info to someone you just met 10 minutes ago is that they have very bad interpersonal skills and very poor insight into other human beings. You were right not to disclose.
     
  6. omores

    omores sleep deprived
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    David:

    You have a VERY VERY STUPID and VERY EMBARASSING reason for wanting to go into medicine? How thoroughly intriguing!

    In all honesty, you're probably at an advantage to have such a reason. Think about what the application process is like: thousands upon thousands of eager pre-meds all striving to get into school. Most of us choose to enter the field because we are compassionate, interested in science, and seeking to help people (or at least claim that we are on our applications). But it sounds like you were inspired by something else entirely. And that will help you stand out from the crowd.

    My best advice, then, is to be honest and tell them your reason. If it contains personal details that embarass you, then disinfect it a bit -- in other words, just give them the general idea without going into gory details. Perhaps you should "test drive" your explanation by telling a few of your friends -- or perhaps members of a certain pre-med discussion forum (OK, OK -- I'm dying to know). Gauge the reaction you get and proceed accordingly. Besides, things sometimes seem much less stupid and embarrassing when you've said them out loud a few times.

    If you really don't think you can do it, then think about other aspects of the profession that appeal to you and articulate those. If you're like me, you don't have just one reason for wanting to be a doctor -- it's a whole slew of reasons, and some of them may seem extremely important to you one day, but less important the next. Truth is variable, and I'm sure you can up with an alternative reason without having to out-and-out lie.

    Good luck!
     
  7. Djanaba

    Djanaba Senior Member
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    Just a note from one who has been there (both a committee interview and the real things): It is NOT about the questions they ask and you answer. It is about HOW you answer. The art in approaching an uncomfortable question is to turn it around and make an eloquent response. As a physician you will be asked many hard questions you may not like to answer -- not like what you were asked in the interview, but the feel may be the same. Seeing you work under pressure is what it's all about. Don't demonize the asker. Use that energy to learn to give a great answer instead.
     
  8. gower

    gower 1K Member
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    Djanaba, I wish I could have phrased an answer as eloquently as you. I was about to write the same thing, but long-winded and awkward.

    No one is obligated to answer questions that are felt to be invasive and too personal. And there are some questions which are strictly off-limits. If you believe you were asked such questions or insulted, report it immediately to admissions
    BEFORE you leave. I know, I know, if you do so you will surely be rejected; it ain't necessarily so. You will probably be offered another interview and interviewer and the offender straightened out.
    As for the awkward reason you chose medicine it might well be better than the inarticulate standards "I always wanted to be a doctor"/"I like to help people"/"I want to alleviate pain and suffering"/"I want to fight death and dying"/"a doctor saved my life/my mother's life...(pick one)"/"I'm not in it for the money."

    The intense competition for medical school places tends to generate a certain paranoia among premeds: the whole process seems a negative one designed specifically to shoot down the put-upon premed, leaving only the fittest to survive and the devil take the hindmost. Circle the wagons, it's us against them savages. Yes, that is true in part. At least by the time people get to interviews, the purpose of the interview is not to find reasons for rejecting, but for accepting. If it were mostly to savor the perverted joy of crushing the poor applicant, it would be a useless waste of resources and time. Give reasons to accept you; that is what the interviewer is looking for. HOW you handle the answers to what may seem to be invasive questions is more important than the answers themselves. It speaks also to the elusive "bedside manner" for one.
    Lecture over. There will be no quiz on it.
     
  9. gower

    gower 1K Member
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    Sorry, by the time I got to the end of the previous responses and gave my own, I forgot that the issue was not the medical school interview, but the premedical committee interview. However, the same general principles apply.
     
  10. Hey.. I think the strength/weakness question is OK, but as far as the worst experience in your life I believe the pre-medical committee should back off if it is too personal for you to share and accept that answer from you. It is completly unreasonable for the pre-med advisor to be vindictive and not write you a good letter of recommendation because of that. If she does this I would try to explain to the med schools what happened while you are applying and possibly discuss the situation with your advisor's supervisor. These pre-med advisors often do lousy things to people; I know of one girl who was told by an advisor not to bother to apply with her verbal score and she got invited to 8 interviews. Take advisors with a grain of salt and believe in yourself.
     
  11. omores

    omores sleep deprived
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    David.

    There's nothing that should embarrass you about your web page-epiphany. What you've described is a point of awakening -- something that sparked your empathy and compassion. The circumstances surrounding those moments are often very goofy indeed, but what's not goofy is the change in you it produced.

    My awakening came, somewhat inconveniently, during an MFA program. I had moved to Manhattan to go to art school, and was convinced that this was going to be the launchpad for my brilliant career. I was planning to take the art world by a storm.

    During my first year, both my grandmothers got sick. They died within a week of each other. Then my father developed a potentially very serious heart problem. All of these events ended up in my artwork. I produced painting after painting about bodies, about death, about dying, about health, about love, about loss. And important as that work was to me, I realized that I really wanted was to help people get better (or help them feel OK about not getting better), rather than just sit on the sidelines and make art about it.

    I still paint (and wish I had more time for it), but I have no regrets about leaving the art world behind. I've been working with a family doctor in a local clinic and it's been way more than enough to convince me that I made the right choice. I love this life.

    Good luck on your interviews!
     
  12. lilycat

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    dfleis -- I think that is a great story about how you decided to go into medicine, and you should not feel embarrassed about sharing it. Obviously you can clean up the details a little to make it more free-flowing, but the heart of your intentions is special.
     
  13. Plantastic

    Plantastic Junior Member
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    dfleis,
    I have to agree with omores and lilycat. I think the fact that you can pinpoint so clearly the moment your path veered in this direction is very important. We don't choose those experiences, they choose us, and in your case you were chosen at the moment you were viewing that web page. The fact that you were open to it says a great deal about the type of person you are as far as I am concerned. Many people brush events like that away as quickly as possible without examining the feelings they had as a result of them. You stopped and listened and look what effect it has had on you. I say take lilycat's advice and clean up the details and use the story to set you apart. Consider the vast number of reasons AdComs must endure and put yourself in their position. I would certainly want a break from the typical explanation of "why I want to be a doctor". I also must say that I might feel so strongly about this because I, like you, know the exact moment I made up my mind about becoming a doctor. So maybe I am a little biased... Anyway, Good Luck to you and I hope this helps!

    [This message has been edited by Plantastic (edited 01-26-2001).]
     
  14. lumanyika

    lumanyika Senior Member
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    Hey, remember Pascal's great saying, "the heart has reasons that reason doesn't know"

    in the end truth always prevails.

    ------------------
    TO WHOM MUCH IS GIVEN,MUCH IS EXPECTED.
     

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