What Programs Are NOT Supposed to Ask You In Interviews
On September 20, 2016, the NRMP established a new communication rule that comes into effect for all Matches opening after June 30, 2016. Programs are not allowed to request the names, specialties, geographic locations, or other identifying information about programs that you have or may apply to. The answers below in quotations are quoted directly from the NRMP COMMUNICATION BETWEEN PROGRAMS AND APPLICANTS FAQS.
Can They Ask Where Else You Are Applying and How You Will Rank Programs?
- “No. The Match Participation Agreement states that applicants are free at all times to keep confidential the names or identities of programs to which they have or may apply. A program director may not request the names, specialties, geographic location, or other identifying information about programs to which an applicant has or may apply. Programs that ask that information of applicants may be subject to a violation investigation.”
Why Are Program Directors No Longer Allowed to Ask You About the Programs That You Apply?
- “Limiting questions about other programs protects and respects an applicant’s right to privacy and minimizes undue or unwarranted pressure. In addition, programs are encouraged to submit rank order lists that are based on applicants’ credentials and goodness of fit for the program rather than the likelihood of the applicant ranking the program. Programs still can ask applicants about any information in their applications, including why the applicant prefers a specific program or specialty. And applicants may volunteer information about other programs if they choose to do so. Where else an applicant is applying is not considered a primary determinant of the applicant’s fit in a program.”
Can Program Directors Ask You About Geographic Regions You Applied to?
- “No. The restriction on questions about applicants’ interviewing behaviors includes geographic region; however, programs can ask applicants why they are interested in the city or state where that program is located.”
Can a PGY-1 Director Ask About the Advance PGY-2 Programs You Are Applying?
- “No. The prohibition on questions about other programs to which an applicant is applying pertains to all programs regardless of PGY level.”
What If It Happens To You?
How should you respond if an interviewer breaks the rules and asks you an illegal question? This could also include questions about your age, race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, plans to have children, religious practices, etc. If you feel comfortable answering them honestly, then do so. If you are not comfortable answering them, the “most appropriate next step” can be quite tricky. You should not assume that the interviewer has malicious, illegal, or discriminatory intent. These topics often come up innocently in an attempt to get to know you on a more personal level. Experts often recommend that you ask the interviewer to (diplomatically) ask how that question is relevant to your performance in medical school or in a future residency position, in an attempt to get the interviewer to rescind the question. (For instance, you might reply, “I’m not sure I understand how this relates to the residency position. Can you explain?”)
Nevertheless, refusal to answer interview questions—even illegal ones—may raise flags and cost you any chance of matching at the program. You may also want to reconsider how badly you want to match at a program that asks potentially illegal questions.
Read additional tips on Interviewing from previous blogs below.