Monday, May 23, 2011

What Not To Say in a Medical School Interview

Years ago, I was fortunate to have been selected as a medical school representative for our medical school Admissions Committee. As such, I had the opportunity to see, first hand, the admission process and partake in interviews with prospective medical students. Most candidates had already made the MCAT score / grade cutoffs requisite for medical school and were then asked to come for an interview with members of the Admissions Committee. (At the time, the interviews conducted by student representatives were weighted equal to the interviews of more senior members of the admissions committee.)

Reflecting on those days, I recalled two students' responses that prevented them from being a medical student at our school.

First, when responding to the predictable, broad open-ended question "So why do you want to be a doctor?" it's never a good idea to answer with a blank stare, long pause, and then, "Gee, that's a good question!"

Second, no matter how great your MCAT scores and grade point average might be, when asked "Five years from now, what would you like to see yourself doing?" it's probably a good idea not to answer as follows:

"Let's see, it's Wednesday. I guess I'd like to be out on the golf course right about now."

While the response garnered a good chuckle from the Admissions Committee, he never stood a chance.



Anonymous said...

God, what bullshit. You rejected someone from your school, after hand selecting their app from among thousands of others and reading tens of thousands of words that the applicant wrote about himself, because he made a joke? How big of dick are you.

DrWes said...

Committee decision, not a unilateral one. There's a time an place for jokes. Just sayin' that not everyone saw this applicant's response as so funny...

J said...

Obviously, he (the applicant) was doing it to stand out instead of giving the same bs answer that every other medical school applicant gives - "I want to help people blah blah blah." But if you are able to give a legitimate answer after cracking a joke like that during the interview, that's a good thing - it shows how confident and comfortable you can be, even under tremendous pressure. My advice to applicants is? Be comfortable. You don't have to be the most knowledgeable or the most motivated or th most dedicated. You don't have to have the strongest work ethic or the best articulation. What adcoms hate to see is the fidgeting incoherent uncertain applicant who have can't even convince him/herself on what he/she is talking about.
Nonetheless, DrWes, your article seems more or less like common sense. There's a difference between quick wit and obnoxious sarcasm, regardless of the situation, and DrWes's advice applies to pretty much any interview situation, not just med school interviews.

Anonymous said...

Dr Wes - I think your comments are well phrased. I happen to be in the legal profession (not a great fave of yours, I know...) - but I must concur with the sentiments you express. The interview process for theses graduates, whether medical school or law school, is not the place for flippancy or social media behavior. It is bad enough that the writing skills of todays graduates are frequently below acceptable standards. Expecting adult professional behavior in the interview process is not a joke, despite what another writer might imply. Professionalism should not be taken lightly.

Keith said...

Having interviewed FMGs looking for a residency program slot some time ago, I used to ask the same question in regards to whether the applicant planned to return to their country of origin. Of course, all of them claimed they planned to return to their native contry and serve their fellow countrymen. None of them ever returned home after completing residency.

I remember being interview at Wayne State Medical School where the interviewer asked if I got into the University of Michigan and Wayne State both, which I would attend. What this had to do with my qualifications, I have no idea, but the question left me with the choice of lying, or telling the truth and hoping he respected my honesty. I chose the truth and was rejected from Wayne State, but accepted to the University of Michigan.

My sense is we ask questions that are often not very good from sorting candidates out with the right qualities for medicine. Those with other motives will simply tell us whatever they think the interviewer wants to hear and those with more honest behavior may shoot themselves in the foot. What do we really want; the honest applicant or the lying cheat?