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To wonder what they can ask me in this interview?

(28 Posts)
GlitteryBalls Sun 28-Nov-10 12:52:33

I have also posted this in other topics but thought I'd post it here to get more viewpoints:

This is a fairly hypothetical question at this precise moment in time...

I am currently taking a year out of medical school to have my baby (I am 33+4). I am between 2nd and 3rd years. As well as taking a year out, I am also trying to transfer to a medical school more local to my home town where me and partner are now living, and where both my families are based (we were seeing eachother long distance before I fell pg). Transfering halfway between a course is rare, but they know my circumstances and they are considering me. They have asked for lots of supporting information, including info about the course to see if they are compatible and info about results and feedback I have received so far. They said the only thing that would make it a definite no would be my having failed any assessments or taken any retakes - but this is not the case, in fact my results are better than average.

They have said that once they have reviewed this info, then the next stage would be to interview me. They have said this will be a fairly informal interview as I won't be "competing" for my place as people starting at the beginning are. It is more just for them to get to meet me in person etc.

At my interview for the medical school I am currently at, I was 26 at the time. One of the interviewers was playing "bad cop" and was asking quite awkward questions.At once stage he asked me when I planned to have a family. I answered that I wasn't sure yet, but I was serious about the course and would give it 100% etc etc and only AFTER I had given my answer did one of the "nicer cop" interviewers interrupt me and say I shouldn't have had to answer that question. When I told people later, they said that to ask this kind of question to a woman just because they are at childbearing age is actaully illegal and considered sexual discrimination. (Though as some of the -dickhead- men I have spoken to have said, in hindsight they were right in asking me as I went and got myself up the duff a couple of years later!).

So - I don't have an interview yet for this new school, but I like to be prepared and I was thinking of ways I could start to prepare now just in case. Me and dp are in limbo as if I did get a place at the local uni, we can stay in our current house, he could keep his job etc. If I didn't, I can still go back to my current uni but we would have to relocate 300 miles so would have to move house, he would have to get a new job etc. So we have not looked into specific logistics regarding childcare etc as we have decided to find out first where we stand and then go from there.

So, therefore, if they ask me about what my arrangements for childcare etc will be at this interview, I won't have worked out the specifics as we are kind of waiting for the outcome before we start to plan.

So, my question is, at this interview, what is the legality concerning talking about family etc? After all the only reason they are considering me is BECAUSE of my family situation. Or, technincally, should this interview be more focussed on my academic ability to do the course etc. i.e. could they catch me out with awkward questions about how I am going to balance childcare etc and turn me down on the basis that I may appear unprepared?

The truth is, I have way more support here at home by default due to our families being around, and I am waiting to hear what happens before I make specific enquiries, work out costs etc. BUT whatever happens I WILL make it work no matter what. Is this an adequate enough answer? Or should they not be asking me this and could I potentially (not that I would dare) refuse to answer sucah questions?

Phew - sorry about long post!

pinksky Sun 28-Nov-10 13:02:31

They will want to see that you've thought things through in great detail given that it is very unusual to transfer and they'll want to be sure that you have the best chance of completing the course. If I were you I would offer information - not in great detail necessarily and not about costs etc but enough to reassure them that you have a good support network which will enable you to concentrate on your studies. I doubt they will ask you directly about childcare (not sure about the legalities?) - but if you choose not to raise your circumstances at all in the interview, given that it is a motivation for the move and they are aware of this - as an interviewer I might be left with questions.

onimolap Sun 28-Nov-10 13:30:31

It would be potentially illegal to ask only female candidates about childcare. It sounds as if you are in a unique position, so it would be hard to demonstrate that you were being interviewed differently from a man. That said, they should ask you about personal factors only in so far as they are relevant: so talking to you about the hours expected and checking you will be available would be ok. Detailed questions on your domestic arrangements would be distinctly iffy.

KaraStarbuckThrace Sun 28-Nov-10 13:39:48

'It would be potentially illegal to ask only female candidates about childcare'

Absolutely!! And yet it still gets asked. My boss did this when we were interviewing for lab techs, back in my previous job. The interviewee answered the question before I had chance to deflect it but I had words with him afterwards!!

GlitteryBalls Sun 28-Nov-10 20:54:13

Thanks everyone for your input. Kara, you were in the same position as this nice interviewer who told the other one off during my interview! TBH, I think it was his "job" to ask the nasty/awkward questions and unnerve me, but he got a bit too carried away!

Actuallawyer Sun 28-Nov-10 20:59:06

Whether they're entitled to ask the questions or not, if you want to transfer I would volunteer that everything is in hand and you are confident that you can commit properly to the new course.

GlitteryBalls Sun 28-Nov-10 21:01:11

That's pretty much my plan Actual.

northerngirl41 Sun 28-Nov-10 21:34:18

Well playing devil's advocate, there is competition for places because there are limited resources.

If they give a place to someone who is likely to drop out, who doesn't have childcare in place, who isn't very serious about completing the course, who has delusions about what it involves etc. then potentially they have to turn another student away.

Childcare etc should be a consideration when you are asking them to give you one of the places. I don't think it's out of line for them to ask because it's something you should be asking yourself if you have kids (men or women, but since you appear to be the one switching locations rather than partner, that's why they are asking).

GlitteryBalls Sun 28-Nov-10 22:01:52

What they meant by not competing for a place is that they are creating a place for me, i.e. there is not one spare as such for me to fill. So they will not be turning another student away if they offer me a place. Therefore it is not like the initial interview where there a 10+ applicants competing for each place. I have already had one of those and was successful, so they obviously considered that I was serious about completing the course and decided that I deserved that place. And as I have completed 2 years already, I have no delusions about what it involves. Of course I am taking childcare into consideration and will make sure they understand this - in the same way as I took lots of other personal aspects of my life into consideration when I initially decided to give up work and pursue a degree as a mature student, before I was pregnant.

Perhaps women with children should never be offered jobs, in case they are not serious about it or have delusions about what it involves? After all, this could mean a potentially serious candidate has to be turned away? hmm

cumfy Mon 29-Nov-10 00:22:07

I can see them asking questions about how you view your career.

Indaba Mon 29-Nov-10 07:04:29

Doesn't matter whethe its legal or not prepare for the questions re child care.

If you flounder around when asked and say you haven't investigated it properly then thats not great. Looks like you are not taking the move seriously.

If you are serious about this transfer I think you need to investigate child care and make it more substantial than a vague explanation that you have family around.

You are asking them to do something out of the ordinary....make it as easy as you can for them to say yes.

Good luck.

bedubabe Mon 29-Nov-10 07:53:22

As you have time at the moment (i.e. the interview isn't today!) I'd work out a plan if you stay in your hometown. What are you planning on doing for childcare - nursery, child minder, grandparents, facilities at the university? It won't take that long to do and you need to work out your plans at some stage anyway. The only option that won't be available to you if you stay at current uni is the grandparents so all useful for you to know anyway.

It's a valid question (whether or not it's legal) - they don't want to take you on for you to drop out. They may well want to talk to know what support you'll need from them regardless of whether it makes a difference to giving you a place.

If you say (eg) - there's nursery care on university grounds that I would be using and my partner works regular hours and is therefore available to look after the baby even if I have to work late etc (not sure whether the course involves hospital hours at this stage). You also have the advantage of having a supportive partner and family and being fully aware of how much work the course involves if not how much work the new baby involves!

cumfy Mon 29-Nov-10 09:02:02

Might they ask why you chose current school over their school ?

cumfy Mon 29-Nov-10 09:23:42

Also, I think they may like to know in some detail, what your plans are if the only option was to continue on your current course.

Basically, there are quite a few exploratory questions that while not addressing your family life directly, tend to arrive at them via an indirect route.

GlitteryBalls Mon 29-Nov-10 09:23:57

I appreciate what you're all saying and tbh, I probably will look into all these things - it's not really in my nature to be unprepared!

Thing is I first contacted them about this in early June when I got my results, and we still haver no clear answer on way of another whether we are going to be able to stay down here or not. Obviously in the meantime we have set up home down here, furnished an entire house, been unsure how long a rental to lease to sign up for etc etc because we HAD to do this anyway, so I had been delaying getting even more settled/getting our hopes up/planning even more until we knew for certain what was going on. I could hypothetically plan/arrange everything down here then find out we actually have to do it all again to move PLUS we'd have to move house again and dp would have to find a new job etc etc.

Guess I'm just sick of the limbo situation I'm in - and I'd actually love to have everyhting toatlly mapped out by now but I've been holding back in case it all goes in a completely different direction, and I suppose deep down I didn't want to tempt fate.

nancydrewrockinaroundxmastree Mon 29-Nov-10 09:38:23

As I said on your other thread you need to be realistic.

They already know about your circumstances as they are the very reason you are requesting a transfer and your ability to commit to and complete the course is closely tied up with your domestic arrangements. So whilst they are not permitted to discriminate against you on the basis of those arrangements the reality is going to be that they are of significance and you should be prepared to volunteer the information that you have at least thought through how you are going to manage.

Ultimately it sounds to me like they are keen on you, your academics are good and they want to see if your "face fits". They are, IME (and I say this as someone who has done a lot of interviewing over the years) much more likely to feel that it does if you come across as open, honest and sensible i.e. that you recognise that now you have a child your position is more complicated than it was previously but that you have thought about your position carefully and are confident you can manage your and there expectations because of a/b/c/d.

Good luck.

GlitteryBalls Mon 29-Nov-10 09:46:02

Thank you. Like I have said elsewhere I still don't even have an interview yet! I'm just going to keep my fingers crossed that I know one way or another soon so I can start planning properly. I'm 33+5 now and I think part of the nesting thing is having to have everything laid out meticulously and not knowing even where I'll be living long-term is driving me insane! x

muddleduck Mon 29-Nov-10 09:46:37

So I wouldn't dream of asking a 'normal' applicant about childcare arrangements etc.

However in this case, because your family situation is the reason for the transfer I think it is reasonable for them to ask. Just as it would be reasonable for them to ask a male applicant who was transferring because of family reasons.

So to give an example, I have interviewed people who want to tranfer into our (non-medical) course due to an illness that means that they want to live at home. I felt it was fine to ask them about this illness and how they planned to cope with the course etc.

I guess what I'm saying is that I think you have put your family issues 'on the table' by the transfer request. In effect you are asking (very reasonably) for special treatment because of your family situation so it is reasonable for them to ask about this (in a way that would be unreasonable for a 'normal' interview). They are not trying to assess whether you are clever enough for the course, they are trying to decide whether it is appropriate to make to make a particular adjustment on the basis of your personal situation.

My gut feeling is that the main thing that they will want from you is a feeling of enthusiasm, that you are desperately keen to make this work and to get your studies back on track. What they want to avoid is taking on someone who doesn't have the driving passion for the career that will help them through the very tough parts of the course. So if you get stressed or in a muddle during the interview it woudn't hurt to make it clear quite how important this is to you. Or at the end of the interview thank them for the opportunity to meet with them, stressing how important this is to you.

and FIWI I think you were very unlucky in your first interview, I think this sort of (illegal) questioning is now fairly rare.

muddleduck Mon 29-Nov-10 09:47:42

and I strongly agree with what nancy says about showing that you have thought this through and have a realistic plan.

nancydrewrockinaroundxmastree Mon 29-Nov-10 10:09:44

Glittery - I feel your pain re the wanting a plan. I am 25 weeks with two other children. Currently in the UK, my DH is abroad (I came back so I could have the baby here due to complications) DC and I are planning to move back but my work have agreed to extend my break until this baby is 18mths old so very tempting to stay and have a job but DH can't currently return.

I just want a plan to work to!

GlitteryBalls Mon 29-Nov-10 10:28:43

Yes that's my plan. I AM desperately keen to get back into it (I've not techinically even missed a whole semester so far) and I am bloody determined to make it work - so hopefully they will get this from me. I am usually pretty good in interviews too. Though in that other interview I mentioned I did get a bit thrown, but I don't think it was the question itself, more the fact that the interviewers started bickering - I swear I was a bumbling wreck after that, but I must have somehow come across ok because I got an offer. Either that or they were so frightened I sue them if I didn't!

I guess I am just so paranoid that I won't get a place due to something like logistics when I know I can do it academically, and I want it now more than ever as I want the best in life for my family! I know I can and will make it work and I guess in an ideal world I'd like them to judge me on merit and let me worry about the finer details - which I will no question!

GlitteryBalls Mon 29-Nov-10 10:41:03

Nancy - it sucks doesn't it? Me and dp both love the town my old uni is in and would love to raise kids there, so if we did have to move there it wouldn't be the end of the world - but it would be a logistical nightmare, dp would have to get a new job and we would have to move and set upo home again. But I just want to know now as if we do have to move back, dp should probably start looking for a job now - we wouldn't have to go back til Sep, but nothing would be stopping us from gouing back sooner.

I found out I was pg just as the academic year was ending, and as I was --shitting myself-- a bit scared i kind of fled home to where dp and the folks were. Part of me wishes I'd just stayed put ands made dp move up then and styed at my old uni so at least we could have stayed settled in one place. But then I suppose I wouldn't have had all the family support throughout pg etc. As I mentioned this other place is about 300 miles away so I could have been very isolated afetr the birth etc. even with dp there. Oh well! I'm sure it will all work out! Sorry you can't have your dp with you. x

venusandmars Mon 29-Nov-10 10:41:07

I would suggest that you have a good look at the remainder of their course programme and the demands that it will make on you. For example, where will you be doing your training placements, are they in variable locations, and will they require you to be flexible in terms of how you get there, and the care arrangements for your baby? Does your family support network extend to giving you sufficient time to study in the evenings and at weekends?

You should be considering these questions first of all for yourself (and your dp and the baby) because you will need to know that it is all going to be feasible and manageable. You do not need to have the details arranged, but you should have thought through all the possible permutations. For example, if your dp works fixed hours and cannot be flexible, then how would you deal with a placement in a distant hospital or GP practice? If you have thought through these issues for yourself then you will not need to worry about the questions that they might ask you.

GlitteryBalls Mon 29-Nov-10 10:52:00

Yes Venus I see what you are saying. But this school has base hospitals spread across 2 counties so it would be difficult to cover all bases. I would need them to tell me first where they will send me, or if I have the choice where to go etc.

Also, if I go back, it won't be til September, and in between now and then I have a lot of other things to worry about - the birth and looking after a baby etc., plus I am still working full time up until xmas eve trying to keep some money coming in to survive til then. So I think I was being reasonable to not want to make more work/stress for myslef than necessary in view of the fact it wasn't even very certain yet! But I may get some more solid ideas/plans in place IF I do get an interview so I do feel prepared. I have already had a vague look at some options, but sometimes I feel this may be a pointless exercise until I know for certain what the deal is.

venusandmars Mon 29-Nov-10 11:46:04

My niece is at med school and her placements were a variety - some were close to where she lives (and to uni) others were almost 2 hours away. There were limited options for some of the placements, so not always a choice that was easy.

IF you had a placement in one of the more distant locations what would be the options for you? Could your dh do the nursery pick-ups and drop-offs? Would your families be able to help you? If niether of those were a possibility and you could only do placements that were close by, then YOU need to know this before you go for the interview, so that you can ask how placements are managed.

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