Preparing for the interview Research the program before you go so that you will be able to target your questions for that program and have something to talk about They might send you a list of your interviewers before hand so you can research their area of interest or expertise which may help you decide how to direct your questions You might check to see if any graduates of your medical school are there, and if so, consider getting in touch with them beforehand Prepare a list of questions you have about the program or that are vital towards your career goals Also try to group interviews by geographical location so you do not have to visit the same city or area of the country twice Don’t cancel your interview the day before the interview, try to give one weeks notice Use a professional email address, instead of firstname.lastname@example.org and carry email@example.com Read your CV and personal statement the night before
What to pack/wear Conservative in dress….do not be memorable because of what you wore Plan to pack an extra dress top/shirt in case you spill something before the interview, I also brought a tide pen Try to use carry-on baggage only….I have seen someone interview in plain clothes whose luggage was lost…awkward Pack something for the dinner the night before, if there is one….do not recommend jeans but dress pants/slacks and a nice sweater or top/shirt Be prepared for bad weather - always have an umbrella and overcoat with you.
Interview Day Do not be late!!!! Plan transportation to the interview the night before and request a wake up call No chewing gum the entire day of interview, use mints instead Do not use the cell phone unless it is absolutely required, includes texting/games Avoid a lot of jewelry, keep it simple and professional Cover up tattoos, body art and remove piercings that are obvious Put the cell phone on vibrate, you don’t want your phone going off when the chairman or director of program is in morning report and your interrupt the session by your phone going off! Value the impressions the program makes on you and the people, and keep track of those feelings to assess how suitable the fit is between you and the program.
Questions you may be asked…have answers prepared Why did you choose this specialty? Why are you interested in this program? What are your goals? In life and in medicine Tell me about yourself? What did you do before medicine? (To an older student) Why should we pick you? What are your strengths?
What are your weaknesses? Where else have you applied? Are you interested in academic medicine? Do you want to do research? Where will you rank us? What was the most interesting case that you have been involved in? Present a case that you handled during medical school.
Do you plan to do a fellowship/subspecialize? What could you offer this program? Do you see any problems managing a professional and a personal life? They do notice wedding rings Anything you put on your CV is fair game so know it well Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years? What questions do you have? What are your hobbies? Why did you get (a certain) low grade?
Answering questions Be consistent and honest in you answers, do not tell one interviewer that you want to be an academic, research only clinician and the next that you only want to do global health with the WHO in indigent areas….they do talk after the interview, as do residents Answer questions clearly; communicate well Do not get flustered if you get a curveball question or a critical thinking question, just take a minute and answer the best you can, they may be trying to assess how you answer questions under pressure when you are nervous…applies to intern year
Questions you should not be asked.. What are your plans for a family? Are you married? Do you have any children? How old are you? If we offered you a position today, would you accept?
Questions you may want to ask them….. be prepared with at least 2-3 What do you believe is the greatest strength and weakness of this program? What kind of curriculum/tracks are offered? How many hospitals participate in the program? Is a publication required during training? Is there time and funding for conferences and meetings? To what extent do residents manage patients? What is the patient mix and what are the community demographics?
Do residents perform surgery? Is the program changing in the next 5 years, and why? What do residents here like most and least? What are the research, clinical, teaching opportunities? What is the scope of experience I can expect? What is the program like (in the sub-specialty I’m interested in)? Where are the graduates of the program now? How much elective time is there and how is it usually used?
How available are the attendings (including nights and weekends)? What were the results of the last accreditation visit? Are there any joint residency activities? Ask program director about board pass rate, it is important to know that the program trains people to pass their boards Ask the residents what they do for fun, what they like about the city, how they feel about the program and if they would pick it again and what the call schedule is like What percentage of graduates enter fellowships? Has anyone left/dropped out and why? How is the training divided? How are lectures given? If surgical specialty, what there volume is like and the faculty: resident ratio?
General Advice Be polite to absolutely everyone, even if you do not think they are related to the program…you never know Do not bad mouth other programs including your home program even if asked…it is a small world Stay energetic the whole day and do not look bored even if you are!! Expect that after a dozen interviews you will be tired. Therefore, scheduling your most important interviews in the middle might be best Thank you cards unless asked not to send them, with something specific that you liked about the interview day Know the competiveness of your specialty and your strengths for matching, make sure you have a good mix of highly competitive and safety programs if you are applying for a competitive specialty
Do not be discouraged with one bad interviewer during the day, some people are just odd and make interviews awkward, It only takes one person on the panel to really like you Advise going to the dinner the night before. Be yourself to make sure the other residents would be a good fit for you, just the best version of yourself Remember even when staff/faculty are not around people are listening and will relay information you say
Closing thoughts Remember you will spend the next 3-7 years, or more, in the same place……pick a place that is a good fit for you in regards to the people, opportunities, location, and your specific priorities/goals They want you if you are interviewing there, so relax and enjoy If you have specific specialty related questions ask a resident in the specialty