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Unexpected Below Average Interview

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Walking out of the interview, I didn't feel the greatest but I knew that I did okay, meaning that my performance would be either average or above average. Never did I think it would turn out to be a below average and at this point, I don't know what to do. The same version of me that was congratulated for my interview skills in practice by others was the one I presented to the interviewers and that got me a very demoralizing "Below Average". What can I do to improve and what could my pathologies have been? Much appreciated guys!

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7 minutes ago, Jambon said:

Walking out of the interview, I didn't feel the greatest but I knew that I did okay, meaning that my performance would be either average or above average. Never did I think it would turn out to be a below average and at this point, I don't know what to do. The same version of me that was congratulated for my interview skills in practice by others was the one I presented to the interviewers and that got me a very demoralizing "Below Average". What can I do to improve and what could my pathologies have been? Much appreciated guys!

You're "below average" in a hyper competitive group of applicants who made it to the interview stage at a Canadian medical school.

Chalk it up to luck and try again.  Getting "average" or "above average" unless you're at the high end percentiles or low end percentiles is likely meaningless. 

You could be 39th percentile and be below average, 50th percentile and be average, or be 61th percentile and be above average (completely made up these numbers, but just for effect). 

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14 minutes ago, JohnGrisham said:

You're "below average" in a hyper competitive group of applicants who made it to the interview stage at a Canadian medical school.

Chalk it up to luck and try again.  Getting "average" or "above average" unless you're at the high end percentiles or low end percentiles is likely meaningless. 

You could be 39th percentile and be below average, 50th percentile and be average, or be 61th percentile and be above average (completely made up these numbers, but just for effect). 

Hey @JohnGrisham thanks for the reply and I get that I'm in a hyper competitive pool but how can I progress from here? I don't think I could chalk it up to luck entirely and go into next year's interviews with the same style and be mentally stable lol

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On 5/11/2019 at 12:42 AM, Jambon said:

Walking out of the interview, I didn't feel the greatest but I knew that I did okay, meaning that my performance would be either average or above average. Never did I think it would turn out to be a below average and at this point, I don't know what to do. The same version of me that was congratulated for my interview skills in practice by others was the one I presented to the interviewers and that got me a very demoralizing "Below Average". What can I do to improve and what could my pathologies have been? Much appreciated guys!

Hmm, I'll share my method with you. Maybe you already used this technique, but its worth a shot in the event it helps others as well.

Like you, I practiced for med school interviews. I practiced with 1st year medical students, residents, staff, researchers, undergrad students, fellow pre-med students (in those massive MMI groups) and close friends who were also co-applicants. Finally, I practiced with my family, and I beleive this was the key to my success for med school and CaRMS interviews. For approach, general ethical understanding and technique, I picked up skills from practicing with everyone I mentioned above. The only exception to this was when I practiced with my family members. They had no problem telling me "Hey, why are you speaking like that? That doesn't sound like you.. You sound so robotic and cold. You KNOW the answer to this.. Have a conversation with me.. truly, what WOULD YOU do in this situation? Would you be spewing out this nonsense or would you be speaking from your heart about how challenging this situation is?" 

I dont know you, but your family does. They know how compassionate you are.. and sometimes when we are placed in a tense situation like a medical school interview, we arent skilled enough to show our warmth to a stranger in front of us. Those interviewers, like the folks you practiced interviewing with, may laud your logical approach to an ethical dilemma, but if you cant bring your warmth into it, you may not captivate them with your response in such a short period of time. Practice with your family as well, or close friends who can tell you if you have reasonably responded to a station while being your compassionate self simultaneously. 

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4 hours ago, HailmadeMode said:

Hmm, I'll share my method with you. Maybe you already used this technique, but its worth a shot in the event it helps others as well.

Like you, I practiced for med school interviews. I practiced with 1st year medical students, residents, staff, researchers, undergrad students, fellow pre-med students (in those massive MMI groups) and close friends who were also co-applicants. Finally, I practiced with my family, and I beleive this was the key to my success for med school and CaRMS interviews. For approach, general ethical understanding and technique, I picked up skills from practicing with everyone I mentioned above. The only exception to this was when I practiced with my family members. They had no problem telling me "Hey, why are you speaking like that? That doesn't sound like you.. You sound so robotic and cold. You KNOW the answer to this.. Have a conversation with me.. truly, what WOULD YOU do in this situation? Would you be spewing out this nonsense or would you be speaking from your heart about how challenging this situation is?" 

I dont know you, but your family does. They know how compassionate you are.. and sometimes when we are placed in a tense situation like a medical school interview, we arent skilled enough to show our warmth to a stranger in front of us. Those interviewers, like the folks you practiced interviewing with, may laud your logical approach to an ethical dilemma, but if you cant bring your warmth into it, you may not captivate them with your response in such a short period of time. Practice with your family as well, or close friends who can tell you if you have reasonably responded to a station while being your compassionate self simultaneously. 

+1 for this answer - remember that while some interviewers are medicine-related (docs, students, etc), many are just people from the community. There's an intrinsic bias that makes people ask "would I want this person as my doctor?" and speaking to a robot with a logical answer will always lose over someone with heart and their best answer. Practice with your family, with people who know nothing about med, with people who know you as a person with a heart and personality. 

Take a look through some of the acceptance write-ups, particularly from those of us who had lower GPA's, as we really needed to shine in the interview to make up some score. I think a common trend with this group that you'll see is that interviews felt like a conversation, with flow and heart and genuine interest in the topic and the person sat across the table. 

Saying this, we don't know how you prepared, but hopefully this provides some guidance for next year :)

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On 5/10/2019 at 10:08 PM, Jambon said:

Hey @JohnGrisham thanks for the reply and I get that I'm in a hyper competitive pool but how can I progress from here? I don't think I could chalk it up to luck entirely and go into next year's interviews with the same style and be mentally stable lol

Hey @Jambon I'm in the same boat as you my friend. At the very least this year I was hoping to see an 'average' grade for my interview. Especially after a year of preparing and knowing what the interview is like. At least we would see some progress right? I'm not so sure there is much more we can do though. I've worked on my interview skills and have been keeping up on Canadian Healthcare and various contemporary issues so I feel fluent in such topics. Even others that might catch me off guard. What else is there to do? I think the reality is that every individual applying is brilliant to begin with and are putting in the extra work they deem necessary for themselves to give themselves the best chance. Chalking it up to luck and just keeping with it might be the way to go as tough as it is.

For me personally, I think being able to project a bit more confidence and learning to talk with a bit more conviction is about all I could do. Two qualities I see in people who I know are better interviewers than myself. Hope this helps!

 

 

 

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On 5/10/2019 at 9:42 PM, Jambon said:

Walking out of the interview, I didn't feel the greatest but I knew that I did okay, meaning that my performance would be either average or above average. Never did I think it would turn out to be a below average and at this point, I don't know what to do. The same version of me that was congratulated for my interview skills in practice by others was the one I presented to the interviewers and that got me a very demoralizing "Below Average". What can I do to improve and what could my pathologies have been? Much appreciated guys!

Hi!

I'm really sorry to hear about the result. Although schools try their best (which I respect) there is still lots of subjectivity in this process and like others mentioned, you are being ranked "below average" in a hyper competitive pool. The fact that you are already looking for ways to improve says a lot about you though! 

I don't consider myself strong at interviews (been rejected from tons of paid and unpaid positions) and many consider me introverted and awkward. So... you may want to take what I say with a grain of salt, BUT I like to think i've at least improved a TEENY bit in general interviewing ability over the years.

I definitely +1 the advice for practicing with family. From your post, it sounds like you did do your fair share of interview specific practice (which is still very important). If not already done, I'm wondering if it might be a good idea to try some "non interview specific" things as well. Kind of like how athletes don't spend all their time on the court/field (probably super stupid analogy my bad). I think this could potentially be helpful for schools like UBC that did seem more conversational as others mentioned. 

For instance, perhaps reading books like "How to win friends and influence people" which although is not "interview specific" may have some general principles to help refine presentation and communication skills. In addition, you might want to consider joining a public speaking club just for general practice speaking about things to a diverse group. You may have done these things already but just wanted to throw it out there. 

I've also heard some people have found going on dates helpful... can't confirm if that works though. 

 

Best of luck :) 

 

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I've had the same experience before years back and know how unsettling it can feel to see interviewers actually ranked you vs your practice. Depending on the audience, it's important to take the advice of those you are practicing with discretion. When practicing with current/re-applicants, it's possible that you have the situation of the blind leading the blind. If practicing with a med student, you have the possibility that these individuals actually aren't outstanding interviewees, but their pre-interview stats carried them through (school dependent of course).  In my experience, I've given answers that (even in my mind) had been hot garbage but still received highly positive feedback from both parties alike.

However, this is not to say that I find all individuals at these groups unreliable. In some, I've found very mature, highly insightful individuals whom I later kept in contact with for practice in private. Meanwhile, I did group practice sessions to develop comfort in sharing my ideas with new faces.

After 3 years of doing interview prep and watching many very qualified friends get in before myself, here are some of my opinions regarding the qualities of great interviewees. Note that I'll only be mentioning things I find outstanding since all the general advice provided in other threads is already excellent and these are things that I think can give you a leg up/ a big window of improvement. 

I'll divide my comments into 3 groups based on question type; ethical/scenario, policy, personal/abstract.

Ethical/scenario: Does the applicant consider that there are points of ambiguity within the question and address the major salient stems/branches that can result? Sometimes questions will be very broad and its important to acknowledge/state your assumptions, or work with the major realms of possibilities within each. Also mention the points that you will need to clarify (and how- is it private info?).
Does the applicant understand their role, its scope and limitations? You won't be able to be a superhero in every scenario. It's important to acknowledge that you understand who you are in the chain of command, and let that dictate your steps moving forward and how to best address issues in a realistic way that respects authority and public interest.
Red flag territory: Are there unfair assumptions/biases being made while answering the question? Similarly, some questions might elicit applicant assumptions (ie a wife is cheating on their husband if a recent newborn child's DNA is different from his) but it is important to avoid these pitfalls. There are so many alternative explanations for why this could be the case.

Policy: Can the applicant identify the populations that are severely impacted by laws? Few blanket laws (laws made without exceptions) are ever perfect. There will always be negative impacts on certain populations even in the most seemingly positive policies. A new nation is developing a law that imprisons murderers? Great- but what is the definition of murder here? Does it include assisted suicide (ie will medical professionals be arrested)? How about in self defence or necessity? Discuss these points- if possible- within cons.
(After discussing pros/cons) Can the applicant balance the interests of interests of these impacted populations with those of public interest and reach a conclusion? What alternative/accommodation can they provide a suffering party to minimize harm?
 
Personal/abstract: Does the applicant define/describe the abstract item and/or background of their experience well and how it is relevant to the question asked? Undoubtedly, its almost impossible to have an experience that corresponds with the numerous permutations of experiential question types that can be asked. Preparation is key here and try to avoid putting scenarios that might have too large of a disconnect from the experience/question sought. Is the experience unique and/or does what the applicant convey that they did within the experience seem like a difficult feat? Doesnt necessarily have to, but its something that I always remember the people who I practiced with by likely due to feeling impressed by their accomplishments. Is the experience effectively/succinctly/eloquently described? Avoid rambling with unnecessary details but at the same time, don't seem too robotic with the answer. A good mix of thinking on the spot to adjust what details of the experience should be shared and appearing to be talking on the spot rather than using a memorized script is good here :) 

Hope this is of help.

 

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Thanks everyone for making me feel like I wasn't just an anomaly and for all the tips that you guys provided me to help me get better. To improve oneself is admirable but to improve others is noble; a quality all of you have! Will definitely be using this information to come back next year better and stronger!

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Another option that really helped me was joining a Toastmasters club. If you've never heard of it, it is essentially a public speaking club where you are given opportunities to speak in front of a group and receive/give feedback. I'd received two below average scores the two years previously and started doing Toastmasters last year - this helped me get accepted.

I think it was helpful for getting feedback on things such as content, structure, presentation skills, gestures, expressions and concision. You are guaranteed to get honest feedback with every speaking opportunity as well as see the nuances of a skilled and confident speaker. I think Toastmasters is helpful for anyone that hasn't tried it before, no matter your comfort level with public speaking. 

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On 5/10/2019 at 9:42 PM, Jambon said:

Walking out of the interview, I didn't feel the greatest but I knew that I did okay, meaning that my performance would be either average or above average. Never did I think it would turn out to be a below average and at this point, I don't know what to do. The same version of me that was congratulated for my interview skills in practice by others was the one I presented to the interviewers and that got me a very demoralizing "Below Average". What can I do to improve and what could my pathologies have been? Much appreciated guys!

Hey @Jambon,

Firstly, I'm really sorry to hear that you didn't get the interview feedback you were anticipating.  I definitely agree with you that reading that Below Average can be demoralizing... I remember when I did my first interview, I felt good, very excited to finish and even celebrated afterwards.  But when I saw that Below Average after I received regrets, I was devastated; so I can imagine what you must have felt/perhaps still feeling.  But please don't be discouraged.  With the right strategy in mind, appropriate amount of practice and continued self-reflection on your responses, I believe you (and anyone for that matter) can definitely improve your interview performance/score.

The year after, I spent a considerable amount of time reading articles, consistently keeping up with the news, listening to podcasts, and everything I could do in order to raise my own awareness about current issues that surrounded us locally, provincially, nationally, as well as globally.  I made notes on every important topic I came across and made sure to familiarize myself with the intricacies involved.  Then, during practices, I applied my knowledge, also focusing on my structure, organization, flow of logic, pace, etc.  Although I was waitlisted and eventually rejected, I noticed that my interview feedback said Above Average.  And to be honest, when I finished my second interview, I definitely felt a BIG difference compared to my first.

Even though your presentation is most likely excellent, the content in your MMI stations (the points you actually mention) may not have been at the level it can be, relative to the hyper competitive pool of interviewees.  This is why I recommend you do a lot of reading/research into current events and issues that surround us; this way, you can familiarize yourself with lots of points that you can store in a mental reservoir, ready to be naturally drawn from during the MMI.

I also echo all the advice that has been mentioned above, including practicing with family members and looking into joining public speaking clubs, such as Toastmasters – they are all wonderful ways you can utilize to improve your performance.

Wishing you all the best, and looking forward to hearing your success story soon!  :)

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21 hours ago, Neurophiliac said:

Hey @Jambon,

Firstly, I'm really sorry to hear that you didn't get the interview feedback you were anticipating.  I definitely agree with you that reading that Below Average can be demoralizing... I remember when I did my first interview, I felt good, very excited to finish and even celebrated afterwards.  But when I saw that Below Average after I received regrets, I was devastated; so I can imagine what you must have felt/perhaps still feeling.  But please don't be discouraged.  With the right strategy in mind, appropriate amount of practice and continued self-reflection on your responses, I believe you (and anyone for that matter) can definitely improve your interview performance/score.

The year after, I spent a considerable amount of time reading articles, consistently keeping up with the news, listening to podcasts, and everything I could do in order to raise my own awareness about current issues that surrounded us locally, provincially, nationally, as well as globally.  I made notes on every important topic I came across and made sure to familiarize myself with the intricacies involved.  Then, during practices, I applied my knowledge, also focusing on my structure, organization, flow of logic, pace, etc.  Although I was waitlisted and eventually rejected, I noticed that my interview feedback said Above Average.  And to be honest, when I finished my second interview, I definitely felt a BIG difference compared to my first.

Even though your presentation is most likely excellent, the content in your MMI stations (the points you actually mention) may not have been at the level it can be, relative to the hyper competitive pool of interviewees.  This is why I recommend you do a lot of reading/research into current events and issues that surround us; this way, you can familiarize yourself with lots of points that you can store in a mental reservoir, ready to be naturally drawn from during the MMI.

I also echo all the advice that has been mentioned above, including practicing with family members and looking into joining public speaking clubs, such as Toastmasters – they are all wonderful ways you can utilize to improve your performance.

Wishing you all the best, and looking forward to hearing your success story soon!  :)

This is honestly great feedback. Don’t underestimate the importance of knowledge and awareness of current events/issues. Having a solid background in this can take your answers to the next level. This is something that helped me personally.

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Forget all of this.

The interview process is a complete sham. The people I expected to get in, the ones where you sit down and hear them speak, and you just know they're going to be a great doctor, who explore both sides of the issue, who empathize with everyone involve and you look into their eyes and you can just see compassion...for the most part did not get in. And the ones I would've never ever expected in a million years to get in, the most arrogant people with the most one sided answers were accepted, including someone who got in a big argument with me and literally scared the crap out of me for challenging their position a bit when I practiced with them. This is probably the snappiest person i've ever met to the point of it being a psychological disorder or under the influence but consistently....I have never been more uncomfortable speaking to someone in my entire life and they got in.  Another example was someone who literally said a certain group of people's (don't want to get into details) cultural practice is "savage". Thinking back to all the people I practiced with, some of the worst ones were waitlisted or accepted and although some of the good ones did get in thankfully, the majority did not. I would say out of the hundreds of people I practiced with that this process is a complete toss up and there is no pattern or anything to it at all. It's a lottery.

The MMI is a broken system. This should be a panel interview and the questions should be based on your experiences and other aspects of your personality directly...not this.

Do whatever you can do to improve, but don't expect it to mean anything to them.

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2 hours ago, DR-BMFF said:

Forget all of this.

The interview process is a complete sham. The people I expected to get in, the ones where you sit down and hear them speak, and you just know they're going to be a great doctor, who explore both sides of the issue, who empathize with everyone involve and you look into their eyes and you can just see compassion...for the most part did not get in. And the ones I would've never ever expected in a million years to get in, the most arrogant people with the most one sided answers were accepted, including someone who got in a big argument with me and literally scared the crap out of me for challenging their position a bit when I practiced with them. This is probably the snappiest person i've ever met to the point of it being a psychological disorder or under the influence but consistently....I have never been more uncomfortable speaking to someone in my entire life and they got in.  Another example was someone who literally said a certain group of people's (don't want to get into details) cultural practice is "savage". Thinking back to all the people I practiced with, some of the worst ones were waitlisted or accepted and although some of the good ones did get in thankfully, the majority did not. I would say out of the hundreds of people I practiced with that this process is a complete toss up and there is no pattern or anything to it at all. It's a lottery.

The MMI is a broken system. This should be a panel interview and the questions should be based on your experiences and other aspects of your personality directly...not this.

Do whatever you can do to improve, but don't expect it to mean anything to them.

For real. The speed-dating aspect of the MMI feels so daunting to me, like... how am I supposed to solve a problem or discuss a subject thoroughly in 7 minutes? How can I get to know actors/interviewers personally, have a friendly discussion and construct an adequate answer that takes everything they need into account in such a short time?

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1 minute ago, haenurplaza said:

For real. The speed-dating aspect of the MMI feels so daunting to me, like... how am I supposed to solve a problem or discuss a subject thoroughly in 7 minutes? How can I get to know actors/interviewers personally, have a friendly discussion and construct an adequate answer that takes into account everything they need in such a short time?

I've read somewhere that traditional style interviews favour narcissists, so I wouldn't be so fast to pine for those to become more prevalent.

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1 minute ago, Persephone said:

I've read somewhere that traditional style interviews favour narcissists, so I wouldn't be so fast to pine for those to become more prevalent.

I am completely aware of this, but at the same time, the MMI also has its fair share of problems imo. Maybe the best way to counterbalance this is to apply something that is somewhere in the middle, like Toronto's MPI?

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On 5/18/2019 at 9:13 PM, haenurplaza said:

I am completely aware of this, but at the same time, the MMI also has its fair share of problems imo. Maybe the best way to counterbalance this is to apply something that is somewhere in the middle, like Toronto's MPI?

Having done both solely MMIs (Mac and UBC) and the mixed MMI + panel (Queen's and U of A), I can't say a 20 minute panel really did much for me or gave me much more of a chance to show my personality. I don't know what U of T is like though, my guess is it's longer than 20 minutes?

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32 minutes ago, Persephone said:

Having done both solely MMIs (Mac and UBC) and the mixed MMI + panel (Queen's and U of A), I can't say a 20 minute panel really did much for me or gave me much more of a chance to show my personality. I don't know what U of T is like though, my guess is it's longer than 20 minutes?

It's 4 stations of 15 minutes each, so somewhere in the middle of MMIs and panels!

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