According to federal law, you do not have to answer certain questions. It is illegal to make employment decisions on the basis of race, color, sex, age, religion, national origin, or disability. To avoid charges of discrimination based on any of these protected classes, many employers do not ask questions that would elicit this type of information during an employment interview.
A typical concern during the interview process is questions related to pregnancy and child-rearing plans. The prohibition against discrimination on the basis of sex includes discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and child-rearing plans. You do not have to answer questions related to marital status, number of children, or plans to have children, but you may want to prompt a discussion of the provisions for maternity/paternity leave and/or child care responsibilities in the residency program. Federal regulation provides for 12 weeks of maternity/paternity leave; state regulations may provide for more than 12 weeks of leave (check your state regulations for this information). The law does state, however, that the amount of time allowed for maternity/paternity leave must be the same as that which is provided for sick or disability leave.
Usually, you will find that you don’t have enough time to ask all the questions you would like to during the interview. It’s a good idea to take some notes throughout the day to jog your memory about significant comments, concerns, particularly good points, or particularly bad points. Don’t concentrate on your notes so much that you interfere with effective interchange during the interview. Instead, note your impressions right after the interview. Using standard questions from all interviews will help you compare responses across the multiple residency programs you interview.
This publication was developed to help you make appropriate decisions about your professional career and to learn more about the process of getting post-graduate training.
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Medical School & Residency
Elements of the Interview