Once you receive an interview invitation, first check with your clerkship or elective director to request time away. Then respond immediately to the interview request. There are some programs that offer more invitations for interviews than they can accommodate. To ensure that you do indeed get a spot, it is important to call or email the coordinator as soon as possible to pick your date.
Be polite and courteous to every person you speak with regardless of his or her rank or position in the department. Scheduling can often involve conflicts and be quite difficult at times. Do not lose your temper or appear to be too pushy. You don’t want the residency coordinator or secretary to remember you for the wrong reason.
Plan for enough time in getting to the interview. You might want to arrive in the city the night before. Remember bad weather can result in travel delays. Don’t cut it too close. Also make sure that you plan enough time to focus and gather your thoughts before the interview begins.
Plan for an adequate amount of time to spend at the interview. Try to get a feel for the hospital, the kind of people in the program and the city.
Preparation of the Interview
Read the brochure or visit the program’s website ahead of time. You don’t want to ask questions that are clearly explained in the hospital’s own materials. Research the program itself. Find out its strengths, areas of focus and key faculty members. Prepare specific questions to ask which will give you greater insight on that particular program.
Be prepared to talk about one or two interesting cases you have dealt with on your rotations. Also be prepared to discuss one or two ethical dilemmas.
Always go to the dinner the night before if offered. The dinners are often great sources of information and an opportunity to meet some of the residents in the program. Don’t order spaghetti! (Travel with an extra shirt or tie in case you spill something on yourself.)
During the Interview
Begin by smiling and greeting the interviewer with a firm handshake.
Show interest! It sounds simple, but if you don’t make eye contact or ask questions, the interview may get the wrong idea about you.
Try to use as many examples to back up your statements as you can. Giving real life illustrations adds to your credibility and gives the interviewer a better feel for your personality.
It’s okay to ask some generic questions at each program to see how the answers compare with each other.
Be sincere and honest. Be yourself!
After the Interview
Debrief yourself. Use some sort of note system or evaluation form to provide yourself with important facts and impressions of the program, the people and the hospital community.
Plan to send Thank you notes to program directors and other important stakeholders.
Take any promises which a program director or faculty member makes with a grain of salt. Unfortunately students have been promised spots in the past and have not gotten them.