I’m about a third of the way through my interviews. I’m sure other fourth years will agree when I say that the interview season is exhausting. It’s not even the stress of the interviews themselves, but rather the non-stop traveling and driving. It really starts to take a toll after a while. The nice thing is that I’ve gotten to travel to states that I’ve never been to before and have been able to explore each area and get to know the people and local attractions. I mean, I might be living there for several years so it’s important that I actually enjoy what the city has to offer. I’ve found that it’s somewhat insightful to ask my Uber driver what they like or dislike about the city. They’re a pretty unbiased source and have nothing to do with my ranking, so I like to ask them some of the more sensitive questions that I don’t feel would necessarily be appropriate to ask a program director or resident.
As for interview day themselves, they’re all set up in almost the exact same way. It always starts off with a presentation or meet and greet by a program director or someone else high up there on the academic ladder. Something I’ve noticed is that they really try to sell the program. It’s clear that they’re trying to recruit us and make sure that we rank them. I feel like when was going on medical school interviews, the other applicants and I were the ones trying to convince the admissions committee to accept us. But for residency interviews, we kind of just sit back, answer some questions they ask and the rest of the time is spent with the Program Director, faculty, and residents trying to impress us. I’m not going to lie- it feels nice.
After the introduction, the actual interviews take place. My interviews have been relatively relaxed and conversational. There have been only a couple times where I was asked an off the wall type of question, but even then they’re definitely not on the same level as some of those weird questions I got asked for medical school. The day ends with a tour of the hospital, and a lunch usually in the company of current residents and faculty. On average the day lasts probably for no more than 5 hours. My shortest interview day was 4 hours and my longest was 8 hours (yeah, I know).
For my first interview, my neuroticism forced me to prepared excessively. I read everything about the program, I reviewed my CV, re-read my entire application, the works. Then when I had the actual interview, I felt so underwhelmed that I stopped preparing so much for my following interviews. Now I just take a little bit of time the night before to read about the program and think about how to tailor my responses appropriately.
Some questions I’ve gotten a couple times that annoy me to no end are: Why medicine? Why DO school? and Why did you decide to be a doctor?
Oh I’m sorry, I thought I was interviewing for residency, not medical school
…is what I’m thinking in my head. It takes everything in me not to roll my eyes when they ask me one of those questions. Instead, I enthusiastically nod and give my response, which is the exact same response I gave 4 years ago for medical school interviews. How groundbreaking.
Another thing about interviews: love letters. I’ve gotten some emails from either a PD or the DME with whom I interviewed with that day thanking me for visiting and that they think I will fit in well/will be a great addition to the program/that they hope I rank them highly. They also manage to integrate a specific topic we talked about during the interview, whether it was one of my hobbies or future career aspirations. It’s a nice gesture, but I take these emails with a massive bag of salt. In no way does it change my opinion of a program, or my ranking.
Anyway, I need to go send some thank you emails. Only a couple more months of interviews left…