Aug 30, 2010
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Medical Student
I have no idea how to answer this during my interview. I was asked it twice this past time. I usually give a generic "location in the U.S." answer but this past time the interviewers did not accept it and pressed further. I mean I was honest but I didn't want to "name drop" and only told them about schools in the same area as the place I was interviewing at.

If I'm interviewing at a top program is it ok to mention other top programs I'm interviewing at or would it be considered bragging?
 
Aug 29, 2010
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I was in a similar situation. My interviewer wanted to know exactly where else I was interviewing, so I told him some of the places that I was most interested in. His response: "Well, those programs aren't even comparable to this place!" :wtf:
 

dragonfly99

10+ Year Member
May 15, 2008
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Attending Physician
I think it is rude of them to press the issue, and shows insecurity on the part of the program. I personally found it a point AGAINST programs when they did that. To ask once in passing is not so bad, to press the issue demanding to know every program the applicant has applied to (when he has already answered the question somewhat) makes them look insecure and/or rude.

I think the question may be asked for at least 2 reasons I can think of:
1) trying to see how good a chance they have to "get" you (i.e. if you are interviewing at Brigham and UCSF then Southwestern or Emory might think they have less chance of getting you, particularly if you are from the east or west coasts)
2) trying to see if you are considered "competitive" or not by other programs (if you are interviewing at Duke but everywhere else you got an interview is a regional state U or something, then perhaps they'll assume you weren't such a competitive applicant)

I always find this question a bit bizarre. I was asked it a lot on the fellowship interview trail, but not as much during residency interviews, for whatever reason. I found it annoying and a waste of time. I think the OP's response was fine, as was what I would have done. I usually recommend people to name a few programs in the same geographic area, and/or ones of similar competitiveness level.
 

superhero16

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Apr 10, 2009
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It was at a strong academic program I only recently received an interview to.

So, do you guys think I should have mentioned some decent program names so he/she could think I was a competitive applicant?
 

Loanna

10+ Year Member
Apr 22, 2007
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I had that same question in one of my recent interviews. Firstly, I just said the region I mostly have applied to, but then I was asked again to name the programs. The weird thing was, my next interview was at the place the interviewer himself trained as a resident. Apart from commenting on the programs, in terms of their quality of clinical training and research opportunities, he gave me the feeling he was trying to compare & contrast them to the place I was interviewing at, and show me they were better. But, yes, I definitely felt uncomfortable, being made to respond to this question!
 

Bike on a Trek

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Mar 12, 2006
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At least at the "top" programs (don't start arguing about what that means!), there's almost certainly no conspiracy or evilness in the question. It's just a question like any other to try to get to know you. If the program is interviewing you, by definition they are interested in you. If you answered with programs they consider "lesser", they'll feel good they have a shot at getting you (they will NOT think they made a mistake in interviewing you based on the other places that gave you interviews, because "top" programs don't make mistakes ;) ) And, if you applied to other "top" programs, they'll still think they have a shot at getting you because they'll think you'll realize that their program is the best. So, I really, truly, honestly don't believe that answering the question hurts an interviewee at a "top" program. If anything, it could only help (if the program recognizes other programs that they see themselves competing with, they might recognize it will take more than the average effort to convince you their program is best).

And, at "not-top" programs it still won't hurt you. Even though they may recognize that you have applied to more prestigious programs, they won't rank you lower and they won't suddenly decide they don't want you. If anything, applying to "better" programs is more likely to enhance your status because, after all, you are interviewing with them and they will interpret that as interest on your part despite the other programs you applied to.

It's mostly just a question with no evil intent. I would be annoyed if it were a question that led off the interview (because it's not that important a question in getting to know you), or if an unskilled interviewer started focusing on your other choices too much. But, the question itself is not meant to make you uncomfortable so being evasive or coy is probably more telling than a simple honest response.