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Element Of Luck In Interviews


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Hi all! How much do you think luck plays a role in interviews, once you're looking at multiple interviews? Here are my thoughts:

 

I believe that receiving multiple post-interview rejections may indicate an issue with the method of answering questions, demeanour, body language, or some sort of discrimination/bias/red flag, etc. which can certainly be worked on/fixed for upcoming cycles. Of course, there is also an element of luck here, but with multiple post-interview rejections it is likely that other factors are at play as well.

 

But I also think that once you are past a certain threshold of interviewing ability (i.e. consistently good demeanour and body language, solid foundation of ethics, answer quality, etc.) luck will play a large role in whether you are accepted immediately or waitlisted. Because now you get blurred in with the masses of other students who are also good, but maybe there will be something you say, or that another interviewee says, that really clicks with the interviewer based on their experiences, their mood, emotion, etc. I experienced this myself firsthand at two schools, with interviewers at every station on the exact same wavelength as me, the questions meshing perfectly with my experiences. Needless to say, I was accepted straight away at both schools.

 

But is it really fair to say that I'm "better at interviewing" than a person of roughly equivalent interviewing ability who was waitlisted at these two schools? Not a chance! Maybe the questions just weren't as well-suited for their experiences as they were for mine (even if by a tiny fraction!), maybe the interviewers were just a little hungry/tired by the time they interviewed that person, etc. Luck!

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Agree.

 

point 1: some candidates lack understanding of interview content or structure. For example do not understand CanMeds. Some have anxiety or have difficulty expressing their ideas. These are underlying structural issues. In this context "luck" more refers to them getting better results than expected result given consistently less than average performance. Some get off the waitlist and do get in.

 

point 2: the probability of getting in post interview is probably around 35-50% (of course depend on location, school etc). So theoretically someone with 3 "average" interviews "should" get in somewhere. Luck always plays some role with these "average" candidates. For example how many people move on the waitlist, performance of interviewer/actors. These candidates generally get in, albeit sometimes with 2 tries, but may not be at their most preferred school/campus etc

 

point 3: some are truly exceptional candidates with a MS3/4 level understanding of ethics, healthcare, interpersonal and problem solving skills. Speaks with candour and confidence. Able to explore deeper systematic/structural issues, able to find agreeable compromises, able to overcome glitches during the interview. I find these people run into trouble deciding which offer/school to pick. 

 

So in short performance on interview is subject to some "luck", although I'd say >85% is "preparable".  "Fortune favors the prepared mind" - Louis Pasteur

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It bears repeating that the sense of how a candidate thinks they did in an interview, or on an individual question, often has little to do with how they actually did. Candidates might think they're clicking with their interviewers, but that doesn't always translate into a good score.

 

I agree that there's a threshold that, once past, luck starts to play a role. For the significant number of borderline candidates, there's little to distinguish between a low-scoring admission and a high-scoring rejection. Yet, many admitted candidates are not borderline, but are either clearly acceptable for medical school admissions. There's a second threshold past which luck stops playing as much of a factor. And, of course, there are shades of grey within the borderline candidates - just because they aren't a lock to go either way doesn't mean the die aren't weighted in or against their favour.

 

What I'm trying to get at is that acceptance to medical school is well within candidate's control when they're at the interview stage, especially for candidates with multiple interviews. Yes, many admitted candidates shouldn't assume it was pure skill that got them into medical school. However, candidates who did not get the result they want shouldn't blame bad luck - even if luck played a role, the odds aren't out of their control to influence.

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I also think there is some luck as to whom you follow in the MMI style interviews. From my experience, the person that was leaving the rooms I was entering looked extremely nervous and I could see the sweat on his forehead, and I'm assuming he wasn't doing super great. So by being the person that went into the room right after him, I think my answers probably just seemed better because I was a lot calmer and confident. I don't know how much it influenced everything, but it was probably beneficial. 

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  • 2 months later...
On 5/27/2017 at 6:37 PM, kol26 said:

I also think there is some luck as to whom you follow in the MMI style interviews. From my experience, the person that was leaving the rooms I was entering looked extremely nervous and I could see the sweat on his forehead, and I'm assuming he wasn't doing super great. So by being the person that went into the room right after him, I think my answers probably just seemed better because I was a lot calmer and confident. I don't know how much it influenced everything, but it was probably beneficial. 

That;s a really good point. As much as the interviewers are trying to be objective in their assessments it must be impossible to rid yourself completely of the influence of the immediate context of your interview performance.

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