“Look at every path closely and deliberately, then ask ourselves this crucial question: Does this path have a heart? If it does, then the path is good. If it doesn't, it is of no use.” ~Carlos Castaneda

Thursday, January 24, 2008

More Interviews ...

“Sometimes questions are more important than answers.”
~Nancy Willard

It is our interview season. We had our first interviews a couple of weeks ago and I posted that I would ask the question, "tell me about yourself?" Well, I did ask the question, but I did modify it a little. The actual question I asked was, "in one sentence, tell me who you are outside of medicine?"

I also asked 4 other questions:
  • What is your favorite book?
  • Who is your favorite author?
  • What is your favorite song?
  • Who is your favorite music group, singer, or artist?
So, I ask you, my readers:
  1. Do you think these are reasonable questions?
  2. How would you answer them?
Thanks in advance,


“Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow. The important thing is not to stop questioning.”
~Albert Einstein


Anonymous said...

I loved the "in one sentence, tell me who you are outside of medicine?" question. I think people should have life outside of medicine, and this question does a good job of funding whether they do.

However, I am not a big fun of the other four questions. I hardly read non-academic books, nor do I have a favourite author (because I don't read too many books), song or group (cause I like variety, and don't like just a single band/song).

Instead of asking these 4 questions, I would rather follow up on the response given to the "life outside of medicine" question.

Anonymous said...

* finding
** fan

(too tired... can't spell)

Anonymous said...

I like those types of questions. They’re easy, answerable, shows you have a life outside of medicine, while also graining insight to who the person is.

The question I hate is:
- If not a career in orthopaedics what field would you see yourself in?

This to me is a double sworded question. If one answers, “I can not see a life outside of ortho” this can be perceived as being unrealistic and one who is not rationally prepared. On the other hand, if one was to list another subspecialty, this could be viewed as one being not completely dedicated to the field.

I have not found a correct answer to this dreaded question. It seems no matter what one says it could be ill interpreted.

Btw just for shits and giggles:
Favorite book: If on a winter’s night a traveler by Italo Calvino

Favorite author: Italo Calvino

Favorite song: Winter by Joshua Radin
"I should know, who I am by now... your voice is all I hear somehow"

Favorite singer: Joshua Radin

make mine trauma said...

Hmmmmm I would flunk the outside of medicine question because when I am outside, I want right back in.

I like the other four questions. I think they do give further insight into a persons mind.
I've always liked the, "What CD's in my car..." sidebar. I often want to ask that question.

My answers to the four
Book: The Blue Roan, don't remember the author.
Author: Stephen King
Song: Changes frequently. American Pie (Don McLean, has always been one favorite
Group/Singer: It has been Amy Lee of Evanessence ever since her first CD. This catagory is also ever evolving. For instance, it used to be Chris LeDoux.

Now, don't you feel like you know me better?

Anonymous said...

How about asking questions that reflect ethics, values and compentence? Who cares what kind of music a wannabe resident likes? Is this so that we can all agree on OR music? Come on, get serious.

Anonymous said...

The applicants all have memorized, pat answers to the ethics, values, and competence questions. No one cares WHAT the answers are to the music and author questions. [Give us a break, we are NOT that petty.] What we want to know is that there are definitive answers. I want to know that you have an answer and can defend it. One thing surgeons dislike more than most is indecisiveness. An intern can be taught orthopedics [or any other specialty]. It is extremely difficult to teach someone to be able to make, assert, and follow through on a decision.

The answers to questions like these do not rely on the amount of orthopedic knowledgy you have, they are non-threatening, and they are not usually anticipated.

Anonymous said...

Good questions.

Book: "The Sun Also Rises" or "A Moveable Feast"

Author: (obviously) Hemingway

Song: "Where the Streets Have No Name"

Group: U2

Someonect said...

thanks everyone for commenting.

to answer the question why these questions. because i want to know if they have interests outside of work. most people read and listen to music so i chose those as non-threatening questions that most people should be able answer. it also helps with loosening them up so that we can talk about things on their application.

my favorite is the "in on sentence, who are you outside of medicine." most try to fit in as many adjectives of qualities they feel an orthopaedic resident should have. the best answers are simple. one answer i got was "I am a geeky girl from the midwest." simple and to the point.

the music and author questions has spun off into interesting conversations about both topics and other interests the applicants have.

ANON#1: dude or dudette, you need to get out more, read a little. medical books are rather boring ;). i do expound on the life outside of medicine question. it allows for going off on tangents.

DC: i also hate that question. my partners love that question. i think it is a hard one to answer and brings up a lot of anxiety. like your answers. interesting book choice, Se una notte d'inverno un viaggiatore. changing of points of view in each chapter. very interesting. nice mellow song and artist choices. i see you are a rather laid back and thoughtful person. kinda artsy. i like it.

MMT: i love too know what cd's are in people's car. tells me of their general mood. i am usually rocking out (rock hands in the air). always love stephen king although he can get word. do you mean blue roan chiled by jamieson findlay? american pie (classic). amy lee's voice is haunting isn't it. wow i know you so much better, and if i only had a picture ;)

dlack7: if you feel that we can truly asses a persons ethics, values and competence in a 15 minute interview, you are sadly mistaken. pat answers i can do without. they are just the rehearsed answers that give me no idea of what you really think. these answers are trying to answer a question correctly. i want to know can i sit down with you and talk about something other than the last case you did.

ANON:you are right. the answer to these questions is not as important as the process. the most common problem i run into with these questions is they have many different favorites. there are people who read a lot and can give me 3 or 4 favorite authors with different styles of writing. music tastes very and people love different type at different times. my favorite is when the favorite album or song does not match the favorite artist/group.

i will give you a perfect example of why these questions are nice for most of the applicants. i interview someone yesterday ... s/he came into the room introduced his/her self and sat down on the edge of the seat. obviously nervous. i asked my questions. s/he gave a simple answer to the first question. to the author and book questions s/he got exited. "there are so many." s/he searched his/her brain for the answer and a flurry of authors came out. one book title with an explanation of why it was a wonderful book. s/he relaxed and s/he sat further back in the chair. to the group/artist question s/he answered TOOL. (pause) not an answer i expected from this applicant based on his/her application and appearance. i informed him/her i was a fan. s/h loosened more. we then talked about his/her CV and application.

talking about things people are more familiar with like books, music, and themselves is more important to me than their orthopaedic knowledge at this point. if they have definite opinions about orthopaedics at this stage, i don't want them because i need them to remain trainable. i need to see that people can formulate good answers about things that they already know about. they should do it in a non-threatening way. there is no right answer because it is your answer.

Anonymous said...

Like so much else in medicine, it may be time to revise the interview process. A fifteen minute interview is obscene, and the questions you describe will have the effect of making some applicants more anxious than others, and you will be measuring something irrelevant to the
residency. Perhaps it is time to consult with interview specialists to improve the validity of the content

Someonect said...

dlack: you are making me laugh. first off, all questions we ask make applicants anxious. whether we talk about the research or ask a question about some obscure ethical question, they will be nervous.

when i was at the educators course, we had a session about how to best interview. some had 5 interviewers with one applicant asking questions for 30 mins. others have several 15-30 min interviews. there were multiple styles and ways of interviewing.

at our institution, we have 5 - 15 min interviews with people who are looking for totally different things in the interview. i am looking for someone that can be human and hold a conversation. the answers are not important. this is the first year i have had the same questions for each applicant. this is the first year that there has not been dead space in the interview. i don't need the person the recite their CV. i have read the CV, personal statement, and LOR's.

these are not business interviews and i am not the only one making the decisions, it is a team. we all bring are list of who we like and we fight for them.

hmm, let me think what is relevant to residency ... can you have a basic conversation? to me, that is more important than can you read this xray or give me a pat ethical answer that you have rehearsed. it is my job to guide a resident in that part of their education. it is an imperfect process, and i don't claim to have the answers. this is just how i approached this one.

interview specialist and validity of content, that makes me giggle. i can point you to a number of articles on resident selection criteria and lack of correlation with anything except clinical grades. if you have made the interview date, you have made the pre screen. now we need to see if you we actually like you.

Anonymous said...

"now we need to see if we actually like you."

Are you saying that by the time people get to the interview they are already screened for professional attributes, and are about equal, so it boils down to whether you actually like them personally? I was under the impression it was a selection process for professional excellence.

Someonect said...

dlack: professional attributes are hard to gather from both an interview and the application. i don't think we are looking for professional excellence as much as academic achievement. we want to see if they fit into our program and with our residents. professional excellence is something we determine over time. professionalism is such a broad topic and changes depending on who views it. i spoke on this topic a while ago, and it reminds me i have to write part 2.

it is difficult choosing residents. the rank list is even worse. as we move people up and down the list, sometimes it is just from a gut feeling about and applicant.

for the most part, we look for a bright student who has proven to be a hard worker, is teachable, and fits in with our existing residents. does an application and interview give us all the information we need, not so much. we try to choose the best residents for our program.

Anonymous said...

I'm in PRS. Like Ortho, as a competitive surgical specialty, everyone who gets invited to interview is a proven entity when it comes to academics. While the Step 1 range for our candidates this year go from 235-272 (yikes!), everyone has proven that they're smart and ambitious.

The bigger issue is, "Can I stand to see you everyday for five or six years? Can I trust you?"

Anonymous said...

Are you usually confident that you chose well?

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Anna said...

I liked reading this discussion. As someone who will be applying to orthopedic residencies in a few years, it's comforting to hear that educators place much value on the basic question, "Are you an easy-going, smart, funny, ambitious individual who we will look forward to seeing each day?"

I know I won't have the top scores or the highest grades, but I think my strengths will lie in my positive attitude, broad smile, diligence, conscientiousness, and knack for getting along with nearly any person I come across (which, admittedly, is just my attempt at avoiding drama and making sure I can sleep at night - I hate that guilty conscience!). It is certainly refreshing to hear that programs tend to rank people who give them that "good feeling." Thanks for your blog - I am a new reader.