Awkward Turtle Interview Preparation

I just spent two hours of my afternoon scheduling my next three weeks.  I finally conglomerated all of my flight/bus/hotel/interview/social information into iCal, so that I have one document with all of the information to date on it.  The plan was then to email it to my friends and family who have been nagging (asking politely and persistently) for my schedule and ask them to pray for me on this journey.  I then discovered that iCal things do not import well to my email or to non-Mac users.  Fail.  So, I then spent another 20 minutes copying the information into a word document to send out.  I think I will wait until the last few details are verified before I send it, but nonetheless it is just about completed.  I am now reveling in my completion of such an organization feat.  It is even color-coded.  Ah, bliss.

Interview preparation has been slow going for me.  I don’t have enough fear yet to really get down to business.  The plan is to read a few journal articles and a bit of news per day and then review the schools and programs the day before the interview, so as to have them fresh in my memory.  Needless to say, I will have plenty of practice by the time I get through all of these interviews.  I am really excited to see the schools and meet the other candidates.  The introvert in me is horrified at the amount of schmoozing and socializing this will require me to do.

I did feel motivated yesterday afternoon and attempted to Google some interview tips and sample questions.  I discovered an American forum that discussed some questions in interviews, but all of the Canadian ones failed to broach my field of interest.  Needless to say, there are the obvious questions, the hated “Tell me about yourself” and the “Why this field/program” and the “Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years?”  Some others that were mentioned were sometimes terrifying to me, for instance, tell me about the difference between T1 and T2 on MRI and working through a case.  Its not that I am unable to do those (actually, if I am being honest, I have to review MRI imaging), but I want to do this program so I learn.  These aren’t questions common to all programs and I realize that for the most part, they are looking to see if you are systematically sound and not oblivious to the field (like asking what sorts of isotopes are used in brachytherapy).  This, however, is why I want to do some more interview prep.

Last week, interviews started for admission to Medical School at my school.  The student lounge was full of people in black suits looking borderline terrified and yet hopeful.  I remember being there.  I remember the stress and the anticipation.  Now, I am on to a new phase of that.  I secretly laughed a bit at their excitement because I knew what was coming.   However, I am really the same way, just in a different phase.  Next week, I will be nervous and excited and hopeful and wearing a suit (though not always black).

People always ask for interview advice.  Be yourself.  Know the program.  Ask questions.  Don’t ramble or say “uhhh.”  I find all of these difficult to do in tandem, especially when you are going to more than one school.  But it is possible.  I would also recommend not beating yourself up when you remember every stupid thing you did or did not do in the interview (note to self, go back and read this every day after my interviews).

To make myself feel better and possibly others (plus procrastinate the inevitable interview prep), here is my list of silly things that have happened in interviews that I am aware of.

  1. I fell flat on my face in front of interviewers at 2/3 schools I interviewed at for Med school.  The first was walking up stairs with the two people who were about to interview me.  One actually half caught me.  The second time, I fell out of the mini van dropping me off.  Onto the ground.  In front of the interview building.  Where the interviewers were all outside having lunch.  In the interview, one of the interviewers asked why I looked so familiar.  I said I didn’t know, unless she saw me fall in the parking lot.  She said that was it.  I got in to both schools.  Thank goodness.
  2. I jumped and shrieked a little with the buzzer at one of the multiple mini interviews for the first half (say 5/10 stations).
  3. At one point, the teleconferencing system in the room where I was interviewing started to automatically call another site.  Nobody knew how to turn it off.  Someone answered on the other end.  Awkward.
  4. Socially awkward interviewer… No eye contact or verbal acknowledgement for 20 minutes.
  5. Tour guide on tour of the school gets lost.  A student in the interview group helps to find the way back.
  6. Blizzard to the point the school closed half way through interview day.
  7. Too many students in a multiple mini interview group… 12 stations and 13 students… Math fail.
  8. Interviewer asked voice major from music school to sing in the interview.
  9. Gastroenteritis… Need I say more?
  10. Interviewer dozes off for a minute… Just a minute.
  11. Seemingly inappropriate questions about family plans on the way out of the interview room (we are repeatedly told that these questions are illegal and we don’t have to answer).  Awkward silence.  Student says she wants kids, but not during medical school because of inconvenience and because they have heard schools are against this.  The interviewer apologizes profusely and says they were just making small talk and proceeds to elaborate on their 2 children born in medical school and breast-feeding in the back of classes.  She says she wishes more female students would stop delaying having children just because of medical school.
  12. Missing luggage and delayed flight.  Showed up to the interview in jeans and a hoodie having not showered in two days.  Got in.
  13. That person who dominates the information session conversation and seems to know everything about everyone and yet has a million questions.
  14. Passing out in the anatomy labs when they show the students real cadavers.
  15. Wardrobe failures… Unzipped flies, missed buttons on shirts, pizza on face (who feeds people pizza on interview days, anyway?).
  16. Spilling water all over the table in the interview room, including on the interviewer.
  17. Being asked why you don’t have an accent, but are from Newfoundland.  Then being asked about George Street, the Seal Hunt and beer.  At the beginning of the interview.
  18. When asking the interviewer about questions, the response was consistently “I don’t know.”  Turns out the interviewer had only been working at the institution for two months and was asked that morning to fill in for interviews.
  19. Interviewer said, “Didn’t I meet you last year?” to someone who was interviewing for the third time.
  20. Random questions about 80s rock music, literature and almost anything else the interviewer would prefer to discuss.

The first 7 actually happened to me in my medical school interviews.  The other happened to people that I know either before medical school or residency.  The bright side to all of this is that all of these things happened to people who got in to their programs and survived.  Thus, I will survive too.  Though I still need to prepare.

What awkward things have happened to you in interviews?

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2 thoughts on “Awkward Turtle Interview Preparation

  1. I myself am now in the job hunt arena, apparently it is a big game hunt and a special liscence is needed..and since I am 52 and laid off from my last employer now 2 yrs… Let’s just say I am not a hot commodity! After futile attempts at the big ones even the small game has avoided my snare! Ugh! But I do recall the process for which I hate… And it doesn’t get easier at my age… Though I have been told dont look my age, I am thinking that is akin to she’s pretty for a fat girl! I guess they say that too….still wanting to work and make a contribution it is not working out! But on the bright side…. Nobody to trip in front of!

    • Good luck with the job hunt! The market is tough these days, so I’m told. Hopefully you will find somebody to trip in front of (but just the potential to trip because you are meeting with them, not actually to trip) soon.

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