So now you’ve been offered a ton of interviews! (Manifesting that for you!) Now what?
Here’s my advice on how to KILL your residency interviews!
Attend each pre-interview social! This is important because it is your time to interact with the residents and ask them questions that you may not feel comfortable asking a PD or faculty member. Residents spill tea during these sessions and believe it or not most times you can tell if you’d vibe with them or not. It’s also so nice of them to take the time to talk to applicants! They could be sleeping or spending time with loved ones, but here they are on Zoom with you! These will be your seniors and chiefs next year so make every effort to attend.
Oh and please don’t ask residents what they do in their spare time! They don’t have any. *cries*
Print out your ERAS application/CV and have it with you to refer back to. You can have it up on your desktop during interviews, but maybe save yourself the stress of having to navigate multiple tabs. Just read thru it to remind yourself of activities you may have done in your pre-clinical years.
If you conducted research, you better know the hypothesis, methods, and results! You need to act like this is the most important research the world has ever seen. If the research was done in a specialty different from the one you are applying to, don’t worry it happens all the time. Most of my publications were not in OB/GYN. The fact that you know the research method is the most important thing.
Some programs will send you a list of the faculty and resident interviewers. It would be wise if you Google them and just write down a few points on them (e.g. their subspeciality, research, etc). You may find that some of these people have similarities to you and it can help when they ask you if you have any questions.
Make sure you have reviewed any interview materials they have given you. Often they provide packets that may answer a lot of questions you may have. Don’t forget to review the program’s website as well.
I’m going to give you some links with sample questions. Spend some time scrolling through them and reflecting, but this doesn’t have to feel like studying for STEP. Use this time to remind yourself of things about yourself that you may have forgotten because you were too busy doing UWORLD questions.
My top 5 questions you should definitely have an answer for:
- “Tell me about yourself?” Have your elevator pitch ready- 1 min telling about yourself without fully regurgitating your CV- they have read your CV
- “What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses?”
- “Why this program?”
- “What inspired you to go into [insert specialty here]?”
- Explain any “red flags” in your application (board or clerkship failures, leave of absence, etc)
Links to Sample Interview Questions
Often interviewers will ask trickier behavioral questions to assess…your behavior! Lol No, but seriously, these questions help them assess your critical thinking and reasoning. If you get tripped up, just take a breath and answer to the best of your ability!
Examples of behavioral questions here: https://education.uwmedicine.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Interviewing-for-Residency.pdf
“Do you have any questions for me?“
Again make sure you have reviewed the website so that you aren’t asking questions that could have been easily answered if you just reviewed the website.
You better have at least one question! Towards the end of interview season, it will be harder and harder to fight the Zoom fatigue. Here is a guide from the AAMC on questions YOU should ask: https://students-residents.aamc.org/media/11091/download
Virtual interview set up
Make sure your Zoom is updated the night before. Some programs may use Webex, Microsoft Teams, or Thalamus. If you have an issue with technology during your interview, Program coordinators are always on standby to help you get everything done. There were a few times I had to use my phone and everything worked out.
People will tell you to have a fancy or interesting background. This can mean plants, paintings, a bookshelf, etc- this is totally optional. . You may find that you end up doing an interview at your parents’ house and can’t have that set up every time. Throughout the entire interview season, I only interviewed with a blank wall. Some people use their backgrounds as talking points and to show a little bit more personality. I found that my personality shined through the computer screen because I was genuinely happy to be interviewing for my dream job!
- The most important thing you will need is a ring light. Invest in one. If you spend no other money – this is it. You can get them for as low as $17-20. If you are ever in a bind and don’t have your ring light, position yourself near a window so you can at least have natural light.
- Stack some books and have your laptop at eye level!
- You can minimize your Zoom screen and put it at the top of the screen near the camera so that it appears as f you are making eye contact with your interviewer.
- Act normal, yet professional. You don’t want to look too tense or too lax. Sit up straight and sit in a comfortable chair.
I wore a full suit- a blazer and pants. It made me feel professional and reminded me that I was interviewing for a job as a doctor! You also don’t want to run into a situation where you are wearing Hello Kitty or Spiderman PJ bottoms and you get up forgetting that your camera is on! Feel free to wear your favorite fuzzy slippers though! I mean, you are in your house!
Programs are usually pretty good about letting applicants know how to proceed with post-interview communication. If they don’t specify, you should send thank you emails to the PD, all interviewers, and the Program Coordinator (PC). The PC works hard to make sure everything runs smoothly and answers questions during the entire application cycle! Do not forget them!
Everyone will tell you to reach out if you have any questions- they really mean this! As much as you are trying to find a residency, they are trying to find residents that will fit in with their program.
Keep track of how you feel about each program. I wrote down how I felt after each pre-interview social and immediately after the interviews. Trust me, you want to do this even if you are tired after a 7-hour interview day! When it’s closer to the time to certify and submit rank list you may not remember how you felt at the beginning of interview season. These notes were vital for me when it was time to rank programs!
Something that may be helpful is the NRMP’s PRISM app to keep track of interviews and ranking. If that is not your vibe, then a Word Doc, spreadsheet, or good ol’ paper and pen will be just fine!
That’s it for my tips! Good luck with the interview season and please reach out if you have any questions!