William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Wednesday, 29, October, 2008

It IS Nice To Be Asked

Filed under: Teaching — williamthecoroner @ 16:22

In the middle of a very busy week–It’s not good for the teacher to be late for class, BTW–It was nice to be asked to do some more applicant interviews.  My uni has an Oral Surgery residency program, the applicants are all already IN dental school, but they do rotations as medical students and get a dual MD/DDS program.  They’re all already well qualified, but we do need to check, to avoid letting Dr. Swango (or Dr. Scrivello) into the medical school. And the person asking did say “you know what you’re doing.”  This may have been flattery to fill a slot in the schedule, but it worked, and it made me feel good.

Speaking of knowing what one is doing, I recently had an applicant who interruped me in the middle of the interview and told me “You’re doing it wrong.”  I briefly wondered if I’d wandered into a LOLCAT universe:But, no.  This individual was serious.  We weren’t talking enough about this person’s magnificence.  O-kay.  It’s licit to guide the interviewer.  You want to make sure that you’re good points are mentioned at some point.  ANTAGONIZING the interviewer, though is really not such a hot idea.  These interviews take around 45 minutes to an hour, this one felt like it took a year.

It was good to know, that this person isn’t what we’re looking for.  I’ve been in this situation before.  I’d applied for an MPH program at Yale once, and when I met the gentleman who would be doing most of the teaching it was obvious within the first five minutes that 1. we weren’t getting along, 2. we wouldn’t be getting along, and 3. he wouldn’t be accepting me, and 4. I would be withdrawing my application.  The efficieny was great, but it was a long time before we could both get back to our lives.

In both situations, I really wanted to say “Well, since this isn’t working out, shall we go do something productive?”  It would have been inappropriate in either situation, so it never escaped the mental filter.  It’s really rather a pity, as I was quite curious to know what the heck the other person was thinking in both situations, and why they thought this was a good idea.  Oh well.


  1. This is all sounding…..

    I too get tagged to do special projects, including the student selection process. That’s the one special duty I don’t fight, and actually advocate for.

    For others, I purposefully offer constructive, but sometimes antagonistic points in an effort to become de-elected. Not only does it not work, but word comes through that those in charge of making such duty assignments LIKE me. I fail to understand the response.

    Comment by carteach0 — Wednesday, 29, October, 2008 @ 17:25 | Reply

  2. My shortest interview:

    Interviewer, looking up from his desk.

    “Well I prefer men”

    Me: ” Great so do I. . now let’s talk about the job”

    Comment by Brigid — Wednesday, 29, October, 2008 @ 17:56 | Reply

  3. And some of us wonder why physicians in this country seem to be getting worse. In my opinion (not that you REALLY care), and not that you do this, this is what happens when too much emphasis is placed on quantitative measurements (MCAT, GPA) when compared to more qualitative things like interpersonal communication and relationships and an ability to think logically and problem-solve. It just seems like too often physicians (or med students) place too much emphasis on numbers rather than people.

    Then again, I may have a different opinion on the matter in a few years if I can get to where I am looking at it from the other side of the process.

    Comment by mholzmann — Wednesday, 29, October, 2008 @ 19:02 | Reply

  4. W O W…

    that really takes balls. Or maybe lack of brains. Or maybe just both.

    Jeez. Sheesh. Telling the interviewer that he/she is doing it wrong? Man, that’s just BEGGING for rejection.

    Like, was the conversation going in such a way that you asked the candidate to provide talking points on how to fix a program or did the candidate just out and out say, “You’re doing it wrong?” (I’m curious, because while I’ve seen people dig their own grave before, at this level, just wow. Man.)

    Comment by Kathy — Wednesday, 29, October, 2008 @ 21:50 | Reply

  5. This person interrupted me when I was talking about the school and the corporate culture that was involved, proving that this person didn’t fit in.

    Comment by williamthecoroner — Wednesday, 29, October, 2008 @ 22:27 | Reply

  6. The question that begs in my mind is, “WHY” can’t you end the interview on the spot? It’s clear after it went to antagonizing that the interviewee wans’t a good fit – so why waste your time and his continuing through the process? It’s not like you OWE them anything, with perhaps the chance at an interview. (This harkens to the philosophy that “No one owes you a job” to quote Richard Bolles of “Parachute” fame). Are you simply being “nice?” Is it corporate/school policy to be nice?

    I am not advocating unprofessional behaviour here – far from it. However “nice” and “professional” are not necessarily the same thing. Truncating an interview for some arrogant snot in a professional manner is, in my opinion, perfectly acceptable. The program is looking for a certain type of individual. The interviewee looked good on paper, but wasn’t. What is wrong with a simple, “Thank you, and good luck in your endeavors” at an opportune moment in the process?

    (N.B. I recognize that I am long out of academia and gratefully so – and perhaps that is the answer to my question)

    H the IH

    Comment by H the IH — Thursday, 30, October, 2008 @ 08:53 | Reply

  7. So, you’re interviewing project managers? ‘Cause that’s what a lot of MBA and project manager people sound like when they come in for interviews.

    I’ve been stuck in daylong interviews that feel like a nail in the coffin of my career — everyone loves you except for the person who makes the call, and that was the first person you met. Or you suspect that you’ve just been called in because they need to interview more than the one person they made the job for. Either way, you thank the people graciously for their time. Then go out for a nice dinner and try not to think about how much you liked anything about the company.

    Comment by rj — Thursday, 30, October, 2008 @ 16:26 | Reply

  8. Harry

    We do have to go through the motions. It wouldn’t do to have it said that I didn’t give everyone a fair chance. That person took aim at their foot and hit the target square on. I wanted to give that person a chance to recover, just in case. Never happened.


    Surprising how a little humility goes such a long way, isn’t it?

    Comment by williamthecoroner — Thursday, 30, October, 2008 @ 16:52 | Reply

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