Why Are You Being Rejected For Medical School, Medical Residencies And Medical Fellowships? Discover The Reasons Your Medical Interviews Go Bad
There's nothing worse than walking out of your medical school interview, medical residency interview or medical fellowship interview feeling shell-shocked, knowing that it did not go well, and then wondering WHY it didn't go well. You're at a loss for how to make sense of it all. Ultimately, it's all but impossible to get feedback on what the interviewer thought of your interview abilities. All you're left with is a gut feeling that the "vibes were not good". And you don't know why. Most medical candidates just don't have the interview skills or strategies in place yet to avoid these mistakes. I help medical school candidates and physicians overcome all of these problems listed here, every day in my interview coaching practice. Which ones are holding you back? Which ones do you need to fix first? This article describes 38 mistakes people make in medical interviews, medical residency interviews and medical fellowship interviews.
Why Are You Being Rejected For Medical School, Medical Residencies And Medical Fellowships?
Discover The Reasons Your Medical Interviews Go Bad
Bill Cole, MS, MA
Founder and CEO
William B. Cole Consultants
Silicon Valley, California
There's nothing worse than walking out of your medical school interview, medical residency interview, or medical fellowship interview, feeling shell-shocked, knowing that it did not go well, but then wondering WHY it didn't go well. You're at a loss for how to make sense of it all. It's even worse when you thought the interview went well, and you later discover you don't get an offer. Of course the interviewer doesn't help. They rarely offer any direct feedback, or even hint at what went wrong. Since you have your hands full simply fielding the questions, and planning what to say, it's next to impossible to be aware enough to also decipher the unspoken feedback cues from the interviewer, if there are any at all. Ultimately, it's normally all but impossible to get feedback on what the interviewer thought of your interview abilities. All you're left with is a gut feeling that the "vibes were not good". And you don't know why.
Days later, when you send them an email politely asking for their feedback, they either don't reply, or if they do, they're vague or limited in their observations. You again feel lost and confused. You can't figure it out.
I help people prepare for interviews across the full spectrum of health care with medical school candidates, physicians seeking fellowships, residencies, career advancement and studying for board examinations. Recently I coached a triple-boarded MD physiatrist with 29-years of practice through an intensive, multi-week interview process, culminating in his being awarded the position of Physician-In-Chief of one of the largest hospital units in the Kaiser Permanente Hospital system here in California.
Well, there is hope. I counsel physicians, medical students and medical school candidates who come to me in confusion, wondering what went wrong in their interviews, and more importantly, I show them how they can correct things for next time.
You've probably heard that hope is not a strategy. You're correct. Going into an interview on a wing and a prayer is no way to succeed. Unfortunately, far too many people think they can either skip preparing, or practice a little bit and then go for it. They quickly regret that they didn't prepare properly. Proper preparation is what it's all about. That's how you feel confident and secure, and how you prevent panicking in the interview.
I've been an interview coach for a very long time. I have many physician friends who keep me in the loop on the field, and I've consulted admissions personnel from many medical and allied health schools and residency and fellowship programs to learn what they seek in candidates. I also regularly consult my clients after their interviews and they tell me how each entity runs their interviews. They tell me about the tone, formats, questions and the interviewer's reactions and follow-up questions.
I also regularly scour the web for new interview questions, and maintain extensive, updated lists of questions for each type of health care discipline. I have over 1500 standard interview questions that are used in all disciplines, over 400 questions in my well-selling book, The Success Interview Guide and thousands of additional questions that are specific to medical, dental, optometry, pharmacy, psychology and allied health entities and schools. Finding questions is one thing. Knowing how to answer the tricky and complicated questions is another. That's the art of interviewing. I specialize in that art form, and I learn more about it every day.
Please know that I am not blaming anyone for these shortcomings you're about to read. Medical candidates just don't have the interview skills or strategies in place yet to avoid these mistakes. I help people overcome all of these problems here, every day in my coaching practice. Which ones are holding you back? Which ones do you need to fix first?
Why Do You Fail To Make A Good Impression With Medical Interviewers?
- You didn't practice with another person. Then when you get to the actual interview, sit down and have a real person staring at you, judging you, that intense feeling of "Do or die, this is real, I gotta make it happen now" comes over you, and you panic.
- You have minimal personalization of your answers. You might give reasonable content, but you don't bring in related stories showing yourself in a good light. Because of this, your answers sound sterile.
- Your answers are superficial, lack detail, incomplete and too short. The interviewer has to pry information out of you. The interviewer perceives you as being unprepared, shy or lacking real depth.
- You take the questions too literally. You answer the question and then stop. You don't take the question as an invitation to expand your answer and use it as an opportunity to sell your good qualities.
- Your answers don't answer the actual question posed. You don't listen well to the question. Instead, because you are nervous, you hear only a piece of the question and assume the rest. Then you give a great answer, but it's NOT to the question asked. The interviewer thinks, "This person doesn't listen. They didn't answer my question at all!"
- You're not able to figure out what your "special sauce" is, or what makes you unique, compared to all the other candidates. Even if you do figure it out, you're not able to get that across to the interviewer. They think you're just an average candidate.
- You're too humble and self-effacing, and you don't like to sell yourself. The interviewer perceives you as lacking confidence
- You're uncomfortable with the social aspects of meeting new people, and the interviewer picks up on that, and perceives you as not fitting in to their culture.
- You relied on getting answers from your friends and on-line from www.StudentDoctorNetwork.com, but they're too commonplace, trite, obvious and generic. The interviewer senses this, and realizes you're not the unique candidate they seek.
- You don't know how to behave before and after "the official, live interview", while you are walking or waiting with the interviewer. You make some etiquette mistakes and do things that irritate and alienate the interviewer. They view you as being socially clumsy.
- You are understandably anxious about doing well in the interview, but you unfortunately "try too hard to impress" and you block yourself from being sharp mentally, you forget what you wanted to say, or you come across as stiff or uptight to the interviewer.
- You don't realize you have repetitive, annoying hand movements, or unprofessional body posture that the interviewer observes, and thinks, "Not very good manners and not very professional."
- You don't know how to handle the wide variety of interview types: panel, group, serial, dining, case study, behavioral, scenario, MMI and others. The interviewer sees you as a novice.
- You have irritating filler words such as "you know", "uh", "um" and others that are negatively perceived by interviewers.
- You look away from the interviewer when you are thinking, and even often when you are thinking as you speak. The interviewer doesn't like that. They think you lack confidence, or you are unprepared.
- You are very intellectual, and you have a great academic mind, but unfortunately, your heavily cognitive style comes across as sterile, distant and remote, and the interviewer perceives you as having no enthusiasm.
- You don't know how to handle direct, probing or challenging questions the interviewer may pose, and still stay on track with your answers. The interviewer perceives you as not being assertive or as not having self-belief.
- You give the interviewer too much data instead of stories. The interviewer is bored.
- You don't know how to gain "control of the clock" in the interview from the outset so you can take your time, go at a comfortable pace, and never feel rushed by the interviewer.
- You don't know the specific techniques for how to recover during an interview if you begin to blank out, lose your place, suffer a memory lapse or start an answer the wrong way.
- You don't know how to craft a personalized, custom final statement that tells the interviewer what you will do for them, how much you want to join their organization, that will leave them with a highly positive impression of you.
- You don't understand "Emotional Intelligence" (EI) so you can use your emotional intelligence skills to read the interviewer and adapt your answers to that person.
- You don't know any techniques to stall gracefully while you think of what to say with difficult questions. Instead, you feel rushed, and the interviewer views you as someone who makes answers up as they go.
- You hope the interviewer knows how much you like their organization, but you never come out and actually say that. You leave and the interviewer thinks, "That person is nice, but they really aren't very interested in us, so we're not very interested in them either."
- You believe your answers are good, but since you've never tested them with either a professional interview coach or real live interviewer, you're just taking a stab in the dark. Unfortunately, the reality is that they very probably are not great answers. Few people who are new to the interview game can generate excellent answers without assistance. At least 85-90% of my clients need help editing, improving and polishing their answers.
- You are unable to identify the numerous counterintuitive "trick questions" that are contained in every interview. There are dozens of these that could be asked. You don't see these coming, and you can't identify them in real time, and you don't know what they are "really asking" so you don't have the proper response. You end up sabotaging yourself, and you say the wrong thing.
- If you are shy and reserved, that comes across to the interviewer as distant, aloof, cold or not passionate about the field, their organization or their school. You don't know what to say or what to do to overcome this.
- You don't answer concisely, and instead ramble on endlessly in search of the "right thing to say". The interviewer is bored and sees you as unprepared.
- You are not very good at "thinking on your feet" when you are asked questions you have not rehearsed. There are many strategies and techniques for handling unknown questions, but you don't know those methods.
- You have not practiced or thought through what you would say to the core set of 15 or so most common interview questions, so you dread that they may be asked, and this anxiety ruins your energy, focus and ability to be present in the interview.
- You rehearsed your answers all right, but you did so only in your head. Then when you begin speaking at the real interview, you're not used to the sound of your own voice, you don't enunciate some words well, and you stutter or stammer.
- You don't know the etiquette, the do's and don'ts, and the social cues of how to behave in the interview. This makes you feel ill at ease, and this comes across to the interviewer as a lack of rapport.
- You are not used to having someone challenge your answers. When the interviewer probes and asks follow up questions, you feel attacked and don't know how to respond.
- You go off on tangents and irrelevant topics in your answers. The interviewer perceives you as being disorganized.
- You're a nice person, but the interviewer never gets to see that in you because you rarely smile due to your nerves. You're uncomfortable and afraid, but they think you're unfriendly.
- You really don't like small talk, and you don't know how to advance a conversation, or how to build rapport with someone. The interviewer perceives you as being standoffish or cold.
- When the interviewer asks if you have any questions, you only have a couple questions, or worse, you say, "No. They answered everything on the tour, or the previous interviewer told me all I need to know." The interviewer thinks, "This person is not very interested in us. In fact, I'm insulted they don't have any questions." You don't know how to find questions the interviewer will deem unique.
- If the interview gets to the hostile or stress level, where the interviewer says things like, "I don't like your answer", or "Do you want to change that answer?", you have no idea what to say. You don't know these may be trick comments and trick questions, nor what they really may be testing. Naturally, you feel intimidated, defensive and you panic.
I help you to overcome all of these issues. I teach you to identify all of the trick questions, and how to answer them. I show you the correct body language, and I give you feedback on what you're doing physically, verbally and with your eye contact. I listen carefully to your answers and help you craft even better answers. I show you techniques so you can build fast rapport, do well at small talk, be likable, and remain calm, yet enthusiastic about the medical field and their organization. I help you discover how you are unique, and how to explain your "special sauce" to the interviewer so they think, "We need this person!!" So you see, there really IS hope. You can fix ALL these problems, learn the skills, and shine in the interview. You just have to know how.
Additional valuable information about interviews
can be found in the Interview Success Guide, an indispensable
tool you need to make your interview campaign a big success. This
is a 216-page master blueprint that helps you understand and navigate
the interview process so you can mount a successful interview campaign.
This book has deep, insightful and immediately applicable interview
wisdom that demystifies the world of interviewing. It also has over
400 questions, listed by category, for a variety of careers and
jobs, which you could be asked in an interview. There are also over
1200 interview task reminders, questions and guidelines in checklist
form so you leave nothing to chance in your job hunt. This guide
gives you a step-by-step approach to mastering the interview process.
Everything you need to do, from the moment you begin your job hunt
to when you accept the position, is covered. We have thought of
everything you could possibly need to know to conduct a comprehensive,
smart job hunt campaign. Learn more about The
Interview Success Guide and purchase
it in pdf format, downloadable directly from this website. The
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To learn more about how interview coaching can help you improve
your abilities in media situations, oral test and exam situations,
and job interviews visit Bill Cole, MS, MA, the Mental Game Coach,
Bill Cole, MS, MA. All rights reserved.
Bill Cole, MS, MA, a leading authority
on peak performance, mental toughness and coaching, is founder and
CEO of William B. Cole Consultants, a consulting firm that helps
organizations and professionals achieve more success in business,
life and sports. He is also the Founder and President of the International
Mental Game Coaching Association (www.mentalgamecoaching.com),
an organization dedicated to advancing the research, development,
professionalism and growth of mental game coaching worldwide. He
is a multiple Hall-Of-Fame honoree as an athlete, coach and school
alumnus, an award-winning scholar-athlete, published book author
and articles author, and has coached at the highest levels of major-league
pro sports, big-time college athletics and corporate America. For
a free, extensive article archive, or for questions and comments
visit him at www.MentalGameCoach.com.
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