mastermeow

Performed Poorly In All 5 Interviews... Please Help!

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I like to think of myself as a fairly outgoing and confident person with strong interpersonal skills and a developed set of morals, but I underperformed in all 5 of my interviews this cycle.

 

I'm not entirely sure where I went wrong. I was very nervous for all of them and know I can be a bit rambly and unorganized with my answers, but I thought I still did pretty well in a few of my interviews. Not sure where to go from here and am now left doubting my personal characteristics.

 

Please help!

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I like to think of myself as a fairly outgoing and confident person with strong interpersonal skills and a developed set of morals, but I underperformed in all 5 of my interviews this cycle.

 

I'm not entirely sure where I went wrong. I was very nervous for all of them and know I can be a bit rambly and unorganized with my answers, but I thought I still did pretty well in a few of my interviews. Not sure where to go from here and am now left doubting my personal characteristics.

 

Please help!

 

In retrospect did you feel your answers addressed the deeper issue or remained superfluous? For example, hire more ER doctors is a superflous solution to ER wait times,whereas the underlying structural issues such as poor coordination of outpatient clinic may be the deeper issue.

 

Also in retrospect did you feel your answer is well structured with a thesis, exploration of the issue, balancing of both sides, and satisfactory resolution/cadence at the end? In other words, if you were to write down your answer on paper, would it make a coherent, "A" grade essay? or does it more resemble an excerpt from from **DELETED**/twitter?

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Hmmm... I do feel my answers addressed the deeper issue and felt my content was strong. I was also often able to draw on personal experiences.

 

However, my answers did lack structure and this is something I struggled with during prep. I think I managed to address both sides of the issue, but lacked overall organization. In the end I decided that my personality and strong desire to practice medicine would shine through and win me enough points (oops).

 

Many of the questions I received also seemed very conversational and I didn't really think they would fit some of the strategies I had in my back pocket. I obviously have it wrong, but a few strategies I tried while practicing felt a little too staged/robotic/disingenuous? I also struggled with efficiently using the 2 minutes beforehand as I was too nervous/too busy flipping out.

 

Any specific suggestions on how to improve organization? Any specific strategies that worked well for folks? How about calming the nerves?

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Without seeing you in face, it's difficult to make specific suggestions. While I do not know the details of these MMI rubrics, I would imagine they may resemble OSCE rubrics, where there are specific check marks for accomplishing certain tasks. Some people perform poorly on OSCE not because they lack knowledge or are not agreeable, but because they aren't familiar with the style of the rubric. Those with insights into MMI rubrics are welcome to chime in.

 

I've noticed the most nervous candidates are the ones that smile the least; whether conscious act of smiling  can lead to relaxation during interviews, that is something of interest.

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Did you do any practice interviews speaking out loud? Try videotaping yourself for feedback? Get input from others who've heard you speak?

 

Given that you yourself felt your answers were disorganized, this may well be the problem. What you see as 'a bit rambly,' others may see as lack of clarity in communication. What you see as 'staged,' others may see as evidence of someone who has worked hard to be well prepared. (This is the context of interview questions that call for structured answers - I agree it is not desirable to come across as insincere.)

 

Just some food for thought. Overall, you want to come across as a mature (for one's age), poised, articulate future professional. Good news is that this is a skill that can definitely be improved with practice/coaching, and does not reflect on your morals/personality.

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I practiced with around 8 different people (some close friends, some strangers) who all thought I was doing great and were surprised to hear the final outcome. However, said individuals are unfamiliar with the rubric. I also did a couple of very helpful mock MMIs with med students, but unfortunately their feedback was fairly neutral.

 

I think for next cycle I will start prepping much earlier, film myself (thanks for the suggestion), and look into getting a coach/help from someone who may know more about what the interviewers are looking for.

 

Any med students that might be willing to help me out in the future over Skype please PM me. I would truly appreciate the extra help.

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When it comes to candidates underperforming on interviews across the board, there are a few common culprits.

 

First and foremost is simply a failure to answer the question being asked. It doesn't matter if you gave the most insightful, passionate reply that showcases all of your unique talents and accomplishments if it doesn't address the question at hand. Some candidates fall into the trap of thinking they have to show off in the interview, making every question about how they are an especially-capable person and miss giving an actual response to the question. Others end up giving great replies, just to a different question than what was asked. In this second case, I find candidates have a really strong anecdote that tangentially applies to the question and is, of course, more comfortable for the candidate to talk about, but misses the point entirely. In both cases the candidates can come out thinking they gave great, substantive answers because they've shown what they want to show about themselves, but they've failed to show what the interviewers wanted to see with their question.

 

Second is being over-rehearsed. The best candidates can think on their feet and while they may have some strategies, they don't have a clear script. Their answers are fluid and adaptable to the question (see point #1). Candidates who have spent too much time coming up with the "perfect" answers either miss touching on relevant details specific to the question or get obviously rattled when they have to go off-script (which tends to lead to content-poor rambling).

 

Lastly, there are those with unprofessional communication styles. The odd "um" and "like" aren't a problem, but when they're every other word, that's a problem. Use of idioms or phrases that might not be familiar to older interviewers (or just those not in undergrad anymore) can be a barrier as well. A lot of words get said, but few of it meaningful to the interviewers.

 

I've seen people with rambling answers fall into each of these categories, and the big thing from my perspective is that it's not the rambling that's the problem. Sure, a concise, complete answer is best, but interviewers get that you're nervous and could ramble a bit. I don't think rambling answers alone explains going 0 for 5 in interviews, especially if you weren't running over your time. Given what information you've given so far, I can see you falling into any one of these three common pitfalls, or perhaps a combination of several. Despite what interview prep companies say, there's no secret or trick to interviewing - schools are looking for honest, relevant answers that you can back up with some degree of personal experience and present in a warm, professional manner. That's about it.

Borborygmi, Bambi, lulu95 and 2 others like this

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1. Read through future_doc's pinned thread carefully, including the comments of ontariostudent.

http://forums.premed101.com/index.php?/topic/47600-mmi-casper-prep-by-popular-demand-part-i-of-ii/

 

2. In my experience, being relaxed, flexible and just yourself goes far in improving your performance! And it removes any perception of seeming to be rehearsed.

 

3. Treat the actual MMI as "a practice run", do not go into it with an overload of performance anxiety.

Those applicants who followed this simple advice ALL got into medical school in the last cycle.

 

4. Treat the examiner as if he/she is an inquisitive, intelligent 12 year old child to whom you are imparting

knowledge and explaining how you got to your answer.

 

5. Lactic Folly's suggestion of videotaping yourself for feedback is excellent.

 

6. Being rambly and disorganized, as you have learned, is the kiss of death. You need to be organized, logical, build upon your answer, just as you would need to do if explaining an important aspect of recommended treatment to a patient.

 

7. Whatever you do this year, ensure you are in situations where you improve your communication skills when under pressure, be it in customer service, public speaking, interactions one on one in tutoring students and/or in volunteer activities because you need to communicate clearly for the MMI as an ethical, quick thinking problem solver under severe time constraints.

 

8. Each of us are different and so, one recipe does not fit all. I found that for me the best preparation were my cumulative life experiences where I was required to react professionally to numerous extreme situations that were out of the box and required immediate decisions to solve problems, contain or minimize difficulties for others, and therefore, the MMI was not a particularly difficult situation for me, rather I went in with the attitude to have fun. And this worked for me.  

lulu95 likes this

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The fact that your friends and practice partners thought you were doing well might be a key problem. You want people who will give you feedback, and are willing and able to be critical. The point of practice isn't to hear you are doing well (don't get me wrong! It's nice to get positive feedback on what you do well) but rather to gain insight into what you could improve on. In the future tell people you want constructive criticism. Focus on practicing with people who are able to reflect critically on your performance.

 

Good luck!

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I practiced primarily with my parents (dad is a doc, my mum works as an event host/coordinator). What really helped me was having one parent do the mmi (usually my dad as he was great at thinking up follow-up prompts) and have the other take notes on body language, nervous tics, and unprofessional/repetitive language. Because my dad was focused more on the content of my response, he sometimes missed the bad habits that my mum picked up on. 

 

Is it possible for you to find two people to help you? One to ask the questions and one to watch from off to the side?

 

(Note: the reason I personally chose to practice with family was because practicing with friends and other applicants made me so anxious and worked up. As my primary goal in practising was learning how to relax and be less mechanical, I wanted to avoid pre-interview anxiety at all costs - this approach may not work for everyone, but it was what I felt I needed to address my weaknesses. Other people might find that practising with a wide variety of people helps them reduce interview anxiety).

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Interview prep is really, really tough to get right. IMHO you need to be careful how and with who you do your practice with as you need to be practicing and developing the 'right skills'. Remember even if someone has aced an MMI in the past it does not mean that necessarily understand what makes for a successful MMI performance. Definitely research and look into management of nerves and anxieties. I found 'The Sound of Your Voice' by Dr. Carol fleming really helpful for getting rid of 'ums' and other vocal ticks so I felt much more confident with delivery. Understanding the interview format and being able to quickly identify question types will help you so much, you can find lots of info about that online (found this blog helpful as a starting point for my MMI prep -  https://bemoacademicconsulting.com/blog/multiple-mini-interview-mmi). Also, make sure you are working on your non-verbal skills as well - lots of people forget this! Also, had a friend who was a HR consultant, very experienced as an interviewer, and she really stressed yogic breathing practices as her best tip to anyone who asked her how best to prepare for an interview - lol. Best of luck with your preparations! :-)  

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Me too buddy, 7 interviews -> no offers yet. 

Def hang in there, you have the capacity to be a doctor and these cycles will always test you but they will help you grow into the doctor that is truly you. 

It is not easy to know where you went wrong, it's a short moment under high pressure in front of someone you have no clue about. There is no telling what you will say, what they will understand and how that will come across to them. 

 

Agree with the general tips above. Be relaxed, know yourself, answer it like an essay question (structured + insightful) and show some personality :) Practice beforehand and trust yourself, your experiences. Remember, the med schools are ROOTING for you- that's why they brought you on board for the interviews

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Me too buddy, 7 interviews -> no offers yet. 

Def hang in there, you have the capacity to be a doctor and these cycles will always test you but they will help you grow into the doctor that is truly you. 

It is not easy to know where you went wrong, it's a short moment under high pressure in front of someone you have no clue about. There is no telling what you will say, what they will understand and how that will come across to them. 

 

Agree with the general tips above. Be relaxed, know yourself, answer it like an essay question (structured + insightful) and show some personality :) Practice beforehand and trust yourself, your experiences. Remember, the med schools are ROOTING for you- that's why they brought you on board for the interviews

 

 

7 interviews and no offers. Thats crazy. I hope you have better luck next year

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7 interviews and no offers. Thats crazy. I hope you have better luck next year

Thanks buddy! Well I am waitlisted at some schools so the year's not over for me! but nevertheless, onwards we go! 

dastruggles likes this

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I can understand your frustration! All great suggestions above. Through many years of application cycles and subsequent interviews, I've come to see - at least for myself - that there really is no substitute for life experiences when it comes to being able to articulate in a mature, balanced, and thoughtful way (and I'm someone who has sought professional help lol, and practiced with strangers and friends). Don't let this discourage you. It sounds like you have already done some analysis and reflection on where you can improve. At the very least, you are entering next cycle with an elevated baseline of interview performance and can only go up from there. 

Bambi likes this

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29 minutes ago, Switch said:

I can understand your frustration! All great suggestions above. Through many years of application cycles and subsequent interviews, I've come to see - at least for myself - that there really is no substitute for life experiences when it comes to being able to articulate in a mature, balanced, and thoughtful way (and I'm someone who has sought professional help lol, and practiced with strangers and friends). Don't let this discourage you. It sounds like you have already done some analysis and reflection on where you can improve. At the very least, you are entering next cycle with an elevated baseline of interview performance and can only go up from there. 

Hi Switch, was just wondering what professional help you so used. I know there were a couple of other guys on this thread who might be interested in your experience?

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On 5/14/2017 at 8:12 AM, mastermeow said:

I practiced with around 8 different people (some close friends, some strangers) who all thought I was doing great and were surprised to hear the final outcome. However, said individuals are unfamiliar with the rubric. I also did a couple of very helpful mock MMIs with med students, but unfortunately their feedback was fairly neutral.

 

I think for next cycle I will start prepping much earlier, film myself (thanks for the suggestion), and look into getting a coach/help from someone who may know more about what the interviewers are looking for.

 

Any med students that might be willing to help me out in the future over Skype please PM me. I would truly appreciate the extra help.

Don't give up.  I interviewed applicants last cycle for Mac and in many cases, as I was once told, what separates a good score from a great score is clarity. 

I struggled with doing this as an applicant and only learned to do so after it was pointed out to me by someone who is VERY critical.  It was exactly what I needed and it might also be what you need to get you in.  I can definitely pass on their info if you're interested.  Just send me a PM.  This person has worked directly with the creator of the Multiple Mini Interview and CASPer, so it doesn't get much better than that.

 

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For those in this thread, take my advice with a grain of salt if you will, but if you received 5+ interviews and were shut out of acceptances, then you're either doing something that is being assessed negatively and/or not doing something that is being assessed positively. 

As an applicant, working with people who are also going through the process will have limited value at best.  If you want to maximize your time, seek out an expert in this realm, not just someone who has been through the process.

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On 5/14/2017 at 0:24 AM, mastermeow said:

Hmmm... I do feel my answers addressed the deeper issue and felt my content was strong. I was also often able to draw on personal experiences.

 

However, my answers did lack structure and this is something I struggled with during prep. I think I managed to address both sides of the issue, but lacked overall organization. In the end I decided that my personality and strong desire to practice medicine would shine through and win me enough points (oops).

 

Many of the questions I received also seemed very conversational and I didn't really think they would fit some of the strategies I had in my back pocket. I obviously have it wrong, but a few strategies I tried while practicing felt a little too staged/robotic/disingenuous? I also struggled with efficiently using the 2 minutes beforehand as I was too nervous/too busy flipping out.

 

Any specific suggestions on how to improve organization? Any specific strategies that worked well for folks? How about calming the nerves?

Something I found that really helped me strengthen the structure of my answers was to actually write out my answers in the very beginning of my prep. I wrote out paragraphs for my answers and ensured that they were very structured. After I did this for a while, I was able to rapidly and effectively organize my answers in my head and produce very structured answers verbally.

Something that also helps for structure is to ensure that you use words such as "Firstly", "In Addition", "Moreover" etc.. as it help the interviewer know when you are done with a point and moving on to the next point. I also found it very beneficial to conclude every answer with a brief summary. So at the end of your answer say something like, "In conclusion........". This can be used as a way of re-stating some of your stronger points of the answer, and it adds a lot of structure to your answer.

 

mastermeow likes this

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Just now, mastermeow said:

Thanks for the input everyone. Luckily I was accepted to Western off the waitlist so can forget about interviews for a couple of years until Carms!

well that is one way of solving the problem :)

probably a bit forward thinking but if you think interviewing is an weakness don't forget about it and work on it in the coming years.

oh and congrats!

mastermeow and trimethoprim like this

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On 6/7/2017 at 9:45 AM, mastermeow said:

Thanks for the input everyone. Luckily I was accepted to Western off the waitlist so can forget about interviews for a couple of years until Carms!

So happy for you!! You def aren't a poor interviewer, congrats to you!!

mastermeow likes this

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On 6/7/2017 at 9:45 AM, mastermeow said:

Thanks for the input everyone. Luckily I was accepted to Western off the waitlist so can forget about interviews for a couple of years until Carms!

   :D:D:D

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