Letters to the Editor
We wholeheartedly agree with Dr. Clancy. As we mention in the article, each program should, regularly and in the beginning of interview season, reeducate their interviewers about what constitute illegal and inappropriate questions. The problem is that interviewers often do not consider their discussions with candidates as part of the protected aspect of job interviews. Faculty may pursue certain lines of questions unaware that they are technically violating employment law because of the setting of the conversation. (Admittedly, some are consciously trying to access that privileged information.)
We would suggest further that applicants educate themselves first about what is and what is not allowed in interviews so that they can either prepare to answer the questions or prepare to deflect them adroitly. Being informed about what constitutes an illegal question may better equip residency applicants to handle these lines of inquiries should they arise.
Ultimately, the inherent power differential between applicant and interviewer mandates that interviewers change their behavior. Changing these behaviors and attitudes will not happen overnight. Until then, faculty should educate themselves and one another, and applicants should be able to recognize and react appropriately when an illegal question has been asked.
H. Gene Hern, Jr, MD, MS
Program director, Emergency Medicine Residency, Alameda Health System, Oakland, California; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Charlotte Wills, MD
Associate program director, Emergency Medicine Residency, Alameda Health System, Oakland, California.