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obviousthrowaway4

Religion in interview?

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First off, this is a throwaway account for obvious reasons.

 

I have interviewed at multiple schools this cycle, all English speaking Canadian schools, and I had a rather bizarre incident in one of them. In the interview, the faculty member asked me what type of XXXX I am (where XXXX is a major world religion), and I answered actually I'm not XXXX, I'm YYYY (where YYYY is another major world religion). Now personally I'm not religious, but I come from a 100% YYYY background (i.e. both parents are YYYY) so I thought it was the safest bet to go with.

 

I've been looking over CaRMS' rules, and they are not allowed to discuss such matters. This wasn't CaRMS, it was a med school interview, but I still would imagine that religion should be irrelevant. To tell you the truth, although I didn't feel intimidated at all and the faculty member seemed kind, I worry that it may affect my chances. I'm curious as to what you guys think.

 

Should I be worried? Is there anything I could do about this? Should I even bother do anything? In the end, I am fortunate to have received a healthy number of interviews, so I think it is likely that I will receive an offer one place or another. This is the reason I'm not too worried about that one incident.

 

FYI this happened early on this season - i.e. before March. I wasn't sure if I should talk about it or not. After some waiting, I decided to just use a throwaway.

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I rarely post, but occasionally there is something that really makes me want to respond.

It sounds like from the timeline you state, this didn't happen at my school; I can only tell you want assessors are told (within certain parameters, of course) at Mac. Assessors are explicitly told that these types of questions are completely inappropriate. There is no call for assessors to ask about gender, orientation, cultural background, or disability, although this is an incomplete list. I believe if anyone on Mac's interviewing/hosting team made an applicant feel the way you feel, the admissions committee would want to hear about it. Every other school values professionalism as well so I am quite certain this would also stand at the school you are talking about.

I empathize with you, of course. There is so much ambiguity in the selection process and it's hard to know what exactly constitutes a "battle" and a battle worth picking, if that makes sense. Still, I would encourage you to report this for several reasons -- more than I will list here. First, I sincerely doubt your chances will be jeopardized. This question was completely out of line regardless of the interviewers intentions and the school needs to ensure the assessor knows this. As well, other applicants past, present, and future may have been treated this way and undeservedly so. Finally, I believe a school would want to know if an assessor is asking inappropriate questions because interviewers represent the school and this line of question is not in keeping with what a school would want to reflect.

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Thanks for you reply!

 

It's not that simple though. For one thing, there is the confidentiality agreement. What if I was breaking it by talking about the interview on PM101? Now imagine if I talk to the school itself about the interview. It might be a huge issue for them.

 

Then there is the fact that how do I prove what happened? What if the med student was unwilling to 'testify' against the faculty member? Then it's just my word against theirs.

 

And even if I do something about it, I would have created a poor image for myself in front of the faculty with whom I have to work for years to come. I want medicine, and I've been working too hard for too long to just throw it all away over this. It is simply too risky, and I'm not sure I should make a fuss about it. However I do agree with you in principle.

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I would worry less about the confindentiality form. The forms that I have signed are worried about you divulging the CONTENT of the interview (i.e. the questions), not the PROCESS. You have only discussed process on PM101 in any detail, and an abnormality therein.

 

I think you need to be more worried about how you would like to come off to the admissions committee. You could potentially ask them to throw out the question for you, but there may be an acceptable time frame to make a complaint (some schools give a week or two - can't remember, some don't say what their policy is).

 

You could always follow up with them after the admissions process, if you just want to flag the concern as a good semaritan.

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Thanks for you reply!

 

It's not that simple though. For one thing, there is the confidentiality agreement. What if I was breaking it by talking about the interview on PM101? Now imagine if I talk to the school itself about the interview. It might be a huge issue for them.

 

Then there is the fact that how do I prove what happened? What if the med student was unwilling to 'testify' against the faculty member? Then it's just my word against theirs.

 

And even if I do something about it, I would have created a poor image for myself in front of the faculty with whom I have to work for years to come. I want medicine, and I've been working too hard for too long to just throw it all away over this. It is simply too risky, and I'm not sure I should make a fuss about it. However I do agree with you in principle.

 

This is your decision and you will be supported and respected. Ultimately, it is your choice and you are the one who must make peace with it. The caveat to that, of course, is that I do feel there are some flaws in your logic that should be pointed out before you make your final decision.

 

The first is that I don't believe that you violated your confidentiality agreement and you would be hard-pressed to find anyone who thinks that you did. You didn't disclose the school, the question, anything to identify the interviewer, etc. Your post was quite plainly about seeking advice for a difficult situation. Again, I can only speak for my impression of my school - and even then I can't quite speak fully - but the impression that I have of the admissions committee is that an assessor would be viewed in a much poorer light than any applicant who brought this issue up. This type of behaviour is viewed as an extremely disappointing performance on behalf of the assessor, not the student. Don't forget that this assessor likely saw several other applicants that day or other times and they might have reported a similar experience. Perhaps this assessor has a reputation as such.

 

My impression of you is that you feel being an applicant puts you at the low end of some type of hierarchy. That simply is not true when it comes to being treated with respect; again, any school that values professionalism would feel this way. In this sense, you don't have a burden of proof.

 

You have some time before acceptances come out. Clearly, something about this situation doesn't sit right with you because you came to the forum and you agree with me in principle. My honest opinion is you may want to assess this situation and why you feel the way you do a little more before you make a final decision.

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First off, this is a throwaway account for obvious reasons.

 

I have interviewed at multiple schools this cycle, all English speaking Canadian schools, and I had a rather bizarre incident in one of them. In the interview, the faculty member asked me what type of XXXX I am (where XXXX is a major world religion), and I answered actually I'm not XXXX, I'm YYYY (where YYYY is another major world religion). Now personally I'm not religious, but I come from a 100% YYYY background (i.e. both parents are YYYY) so I thought it was the safest bet to go with.

 

I've been looking over CaRMS' rules, and they are not allowed to discuss such matters. This wasn't CaRMS, it was a med school interview, but I still would imagine that religion should be irrelevant. To tell you the truth, although I didn't feel intimidated at all and the faculty member seemed kind, I worry that it may affect my chances. I'm curious as to what you guys think.

 

Should I be worried? Is there anything I could do about this? Should I even bother do anything? In the end, I am fortunate to have received a healthy number of interviews, so I think it is likely that I will receive an offer one place or another. This is the reason I'm not too worried about that one incident.

 

FYI this happened early on this season - i.e. before March. I wasn't sure if I should talk about it or not. After some waiting, I decided to just use a throwaway.

 

I know for a fact that interviewers are not supposed to ask such questions...

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But the interviewee can choose not to answer that question even if the interviewer asked.

 

At this point, you have created an uncomfortable atmosphere in a situation that was conceived on the basis of one individual judging another (partly on their social skills; the interaction will depend on having a comfortable atmosphere).

 

I suppose I agree though, one could simply say "I'd rather not say" with a smile and move on.

 

If it was me, I would have answered the question truthfully even if I felt it was a bit personal (and irrelevant for the purposes of the interview), just because I think that would be most validating to the interviewer and by answering truthfully, it costs me nothing in integrity, just a bit in privacy.

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It's not that simple though. For one thing, there is the confidentiality agreement. What if I was breaking it by talking about the interview on PM101? Now imagine if I talk to the school itself about the interview. It might be a huge issue for them.

 

Then there is the fact that how do I prove what happened? What if the med student was unwilling to 'testify' against the faculty member? Then it's just my word against theirs.

 

And even if I do something about it, I would have created a poor image for myself in front of the faculty with whom I have to work for years to come. I want medicine, and I've been working too hard for too long to just throw it all away over this. It is simply too risky, and I'm not sure I should make a fuss about it. However I do agree with you in principle.

 

Wait until the results come out. Your concern is not about acceptance rather about a breach of the process, and reporting this is what is important. Even if you report it anonymously. Adcom would want to know.

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But the interviewee can choose not to answer that question even if the interviewer asked.

 

sure but that question is so inappropriate that clearly it should have not been asked in the first place. If I was in charge of admissions at that school I would really wan to know that happened to I could prevent that person from interviewing again or reeducate them to understand exactly why that was wrong. It also put the school legally in a dangerous position that no admissions officer would want to find themselves.

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sure but that question is so inappropriate that clearly it should have not been asked in the first place. If I was in charge of admissions at that school I would really wan to know that happened to I could prevent that person from interviewing again or reeducate them to understand exactly why that was wrong. It also put the school legally in a dangerous position that no admissions officer would want to find themselves.

 

I agree but is there anything he can do? He doesn't really have any proof. I think professional schools should record all their interviews "for quality assurance purposes". But at this point, the only thing that an interviewee can do is choose not to answer the question.

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I agree but is there anything he can do? He doesn't really have any proof. I think professional schools should record all their interviews "for quality assurance purposes". But at this point, the only thing that an interviewee can do is choose not to answer the question.

 

Doesn't really need proof to point it out I think - there is always reasonable doubt. If a student contacted me as an admissions rep and said this happened there would nothing really for that student to gain, so there is a believably factor going on - as the evaluation is done, his/her score is fixed at this point so that is safe. I would at the very least look into it.

 

The only way stuff like this stops is if people point it out.

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I find it hard to believe that they would ask someone such a question. Any chance you misunderstood the question OP? lol

 

Very rare that things like this occur but the reason everyone has all these rules about it is they still rarely DO occur :)

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Thank you all for the replies!

 

My impression of you is that you feel being an applicant puts you at the low end of some type of hierarchy. That simply is not true when it comes to being treated with respect; again, any school that values professionalism would feel this way. In this sense, you don't have a burden of proof.

 

Well ... I agree wholeheartedly with you, but practically speaking, what is there to do. What if the faculty member is one of the more senior, well established physicians in the school? Who are they going to believe? Obviously it doesn't mean I'm wrong. It just means I am less likely to be believed over him/her.

 

Very rare that things like this occur but the reason everyone has all these rules about it is they still rarely DO occur

 

^ Agreed

 

I find it hard to believe that they would ask someone such a question. Any chance you misunderstood the question OP? lol

 

^ Nope. The question was clear and direct.

 

Wait until the results come out. Your concern is not about acceptance rather about a breach of the process, and reporting this is what is important. Even if you report it anonymously. Adcom would want to know.

 

sure but that question is so inappropriate that clearly it should have not been asked in the first place. If I was in charge of admissions at that school I would really wan to know that happened to I could prevent that person from interviewing again or reeducate them to understand exactly why that was wrong. It also put the school legally in a dangerous position that no admissions officer would want to find themselves.

 

^ & ^^ yea I understand these concerns. If I were running admissions, I would want to know too.

 

----------

 

I've thought about this carefully.

 

1. The school is high on my list, and the faculty member works in a field that is also high on my list. If I do get into the school, I am likely to accept and it is likely that I will be working with that faculty member at one point or another. I don't want to create enemies for myself in the faculty before I even start med school.

 

2. The question was not out of the blue. It was a follow up question to me talking about my life in general. In a normal conversation, I can see such a question popping up. I just thought it would be avoided in an interview of this caliber.

 

3. It was not awkward by any stretch of the imagination. I answered it without thinking too much and the interview went very well. I left the interview feeling positive about everything.

 

4. I don't feel particularly wronged. In fact, I felt the faculty member was lucky that I am comfortable with such topics, and that he didn't get an interviewee who would be offended by it. That still doesn't make it right though.

 

Given all of the above, I've come to the conclusion that no harm was done. I don't want to make a big deal out of it, because to me it was not. My only motivation is to make sure this sort of thing does not happen to other interviewees, and I would be willing to talk about it anonymously to the school without identifying me or the faculty member. This would allow the school to stress to every interviewer that such questions are out of bounds, without directly blaming anyone.

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