CONGRATULATIONS 🎉!!! You made it to interview season!!! You should be proud of yourself, you have accomplished so much getting here, taking the USMLE exams, struggling with money, family issues, rotations, getting your letters, etc you have, really accomplished so much already, and the best is yet to come!!
This will be a LONG post including:
1- How to write a letter of interest 2- Interview skills
3- Most frequent interview questions
4- How to write a thank you letters + examples for different specialties
5-How to write a letter of intend
Interview season could be tough, stressful and may seem endless, but it’s time to relax, enjoy the process and meet cool people and get to know more about the hospital that you'll be working soon!
I'm on vacations this week, already finished my first rotation of Ob floor, night float, NICU, Ultrasound, two GYN rotations, and now going into my second night float starting next week! :)
I'm taking this week to enjoy with my family, friends, study, work on some research projects that I want to publish next week, and write this article on my blog
I have been wanting to make a post about interview season for some time, and fortunately today I found the time to work on it, hope you guys enjoy it!!
Also next week I'm planning to do an Instagram live video going through all of this information, you can follow me in: @doctor.sebas :)
I'LL START TELLING YOU TO:
ALWAYS MAKE EXCELLENT FIRST IMPRESSION
• Always be on time and dress approperly .
•Look your interviews in the eye, smile and greet them by name
(Other years I would tell you to offer your hand for a firm handshake but impossible this year since it's all be online, and specially with COVID lol)
Be humble, be nice with everyone – They are watching you all times 🤗
•Pay attention to every comment the interviewer makes and take notes afterwards. Get the names, including spellings, of the interviewers
You will then send a TYLetter & make it personalized mentioning those facts! 📩 (Examples below)
Letter of Interest
(Please put in your own words)
Letters are of interest could be really helpful sometimes, and I know many people that got extra interviews just from reaching out to the program
( I personally got 3 extra interviews just from doing this!!)
When you e-mail programs sending letters of interest or when preparing for your interview make sure to first read about the program, location, attendings publications, those are things that not many people will pay attention and you can distinguish yourself from asking or mentioning different things from that!
Eg, if the PD was doing research on a topic and you happen to do something similar that’s something that you can bring that! Or even if you haven’t, you can mention that you read his article and you have similar ideas and want to work in those projects!
Keep them very simple, mention in a few words why you like the program, a short introduction about yourself, and your ACFMG number/ contact info.
A questions that I got a lot is:
Who do I send this letter/ e-mail to?
I sent them to the e-mail that show up in ERAS (contact e-mail), sometimes it's the program director, sometimes the program coordinator, and sometimes it's just a general address.
When you start you letter you if it's addressed to the PC, you will start as... Dear Mr. x or Ms. x, right? but... How do know if the Program coordinator is a man or a women?
THIS IS A VERY IMPORTANT TIP THAT ILL GIVE YOU, AND ILL EXPLAIN WHY!
Many times it will only say the last name, so it's impossible to know!
So the trick here is to copy that e-mail in google and you will get the full name of that person :) it work's most of the times!!
Knowing what’s around the Hospital also will make you sound a different.
Eg, in one of my interviews for Michigan State University when they asked me why I would go to Michigan I told them all the things that they had around the town and fun things to do, many attendings and residents had no idea about these places, they looked at me very surprised knowing that I really looked deeply into the program and the city!
Residency interview behaviors
that will impress impress the Program Director
Program Director’s survey! (Credits:Ohio State University)
The interviews that are the best are the ones that the PD can can sit down and talk to the candidate and not get to any rehearsed questions. These are the people that when the fifteen minute knock warning occurs, it feels like they just walked in the door, meaning the the interview went really smooth and just flew away. It happens with candidates that are pleasant, presentable, and easy to talk to. Candidates that bring that extra spice to the table!
The candidate who comes well prepared, knows about the program (from at least what can be gleaned from the program's webpage), knows the specialty, asks appropriate questions, but also allows time for the interviewers to talk and ask questions. Applicant that is formal but comfortable. Articulate in talking about their own research. Some candidates go even further and have already talked with current or former graduates.
Applicants that are well-rounded, goal-oriented, driven to succeed are the ones that will impress the program. Interest, inquisitiveness, & great interpersonal skills are the key to the interview day. Gather baseline program information from websites, brochures, residents in the program - then verify the details with the faculty or program director. Willingness to discuss problem areas on the CV in an honest straightforward and poised way. Sharing one insight about my program that lets the interviewer know you have looked seriously at the website or participated in conversation with current residents.
When you are interviewing:
1. Lean forward in your chair.
2. Engage your interviewer in the discussion.
3. Be interested and ask questions about the city as well as the program.
4. Use first person plural "we" when discussing program. Like when will "we" do our first c-section? It shows your interest and that you feel like part of the program. (Ob-Gyn)
5. Have a list of questions to review if they are not covered in the interview. Taking occasional notes when appropriate. Aware of the specialties of the faculty and general idea of research if appropriate.Knowing about the program is key.
6. Also be super kind to the residency coordinator! They have more input into this process than most candidates give them credit for having.
7. Have a sense of “appropriate” confidence with easy going but reserved manner and excellent communication skills.
8. Always act interested. Be nice to everyone you meet.
Don't ask the chair or the PD what the salary or call schedules are - these are details that could have been found with MINIMAL preparation by the applicant. If you're falling asleep - find a way to wake up. Drink coffee, mate, soda, but wake up!!
Don't "bad mouth" other programs during an interview. The person interviewing you may be a graduate of that program or may be related to that program director.
Don't be arrogant! Arrogance is a real turn off. Odd behaviors that violate conventions such as taking something off of the interviewer's desk is an automatic do not rank. Texting or responding to phone calls during informal meetings with faculty/residents is also a big DON'T DO.
Don't dress inappropriately, have a strong handshake, answer questions, use appropriate language, make eye contact, be able to carry a conversation, understand the research that the applicant has been involved with, and never treat the support staff poorly (secretaries/front desk attendants/etc).
Never act arrogant when meeting with residents and have a narcissistic behavior. Drinking too much at before-interview socials, talking about other students on the interview trail, will make you look really bad
(This year interviews are online so you don't have to worry about pre-residency interview, even though I loved them to get to know more about the program and the residents)
Avoid subjects which will control you and set your emotions reeling.
ALL ABOUT INTERVIEW QUESTIONS
Ok now it's time to practice questions, this isa list with commonly asked questions, go through them and also ask your friends and add the ones that they tell you. Please comment with extra questions if you have good ones :)
Ø Tell me about yourself?
Ø What do you want to know about the program?
Ø Why did you choose this specialty?
Ø Why are you interested in this program?
Ø What are your goals?
Ø What did you do before medicine? (To an older student)
Ø Why should we pick you?
Ø What are your strengths?
Ø What are your weaknesses?
Ø Where else have you applied?
Ø Are you interested in academic or in clinical medicine?
Ø Do you want to do research?
Ø What was the most interesting case that you have been involved in?
Ø Present a case that you handled during medical school.
Ø Do you plan to do a fellowship?
Ø What could you offer this program?
Ø How do you rank in your class?
Ø Do you see any problems managing a professional and a personal life?
Ø Are you prepared for the rigors of residency?
Ø Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Ø What questions do you have?
Ø What do you plan to do after residency?
Ø What are your hobbies?
Ø What do you think about housestaff unionization?
Ø How would you redesign the health care system?
Ø Why did you get (a certain) low grade?
Before answering any questions try to start with some nice phrases….
I’m glad that you asked that question. It gives me an opportunity to ask you the employee mix and patient demographics here…and your philosophy on teaching cultural competency. I’m very interested in improving the health status of minority populations.” An approach like this can open a dialogue between you and the interviewer. It also gives you an opportunity to find out how the attitudes of the program reflect (or don’t reflect) your own. In a wider context you question can elicit information about the working conditions of the program, which affect all residents.
BEYOND THE QUESTIONS
Ø Many have reported that the most common questions were sometimes the hardest to answer, for example, “Why do you want to be a doctor?” Most of us become physicians for the same reasons -- to “save lives”, “improve health care in America, “help people”, “make a contribution to society,” and so forth. That is not to say that you should not say those things; by all means do so. After all, that probably is what you hope that you will be contributing.
Ø In addition to your heartfelt answers to those questions, you can distinguish yourself by showing that you have spent time in introspection and that you understand how your experiences have shaped you and influenced your decisions about becoming a physician and choosing your residency.
Ø Spend some time with yourself before the interview; ask yourself these questions:
· What are your expectations of what your life will be like after residency? What’s your visual image of your life as a doctor?
· What have you done in your life that shows that you are a hardworking and dedicated? (Remember, it doesn’t have to be restricted to medicine.)
· What besides medicine do you have in your life that you feel passionate about?
Ø It’s appropriate to ask about call schedules such as “How often will I be taking call” or “What are the expectations for a new resident…” But too many questions about time off will make you look like you’re picking your residency on that basis, which does not speak well to the program. It’s a fine balance.
AFTER THE INTERVIEWS
Ø Go back to your housing and immediately write down your impressions of the interview.
Ø Write a description or make a list of what you liked and didn’t like, and do it right after the interview because you won’t remember later.
Ø Don’t rank a program you will feel uncomfortable working for. If you’re going to interview at many programs, it’s a good idea to prepare a checklist in advance of the factors that are particularly important to you that you can use for all your interviews.
Ø Follow up your interview with a note of thanks -- but not one that sounds like a form letter. Make sure that you sound genuinely interested.
THANK YOU LETTERS
OK, good job so far.You just finished your first interview, what should you do to re- emphasize the strong bonds you just created with the program?
The best way is to send a post residency interview thank you letters cards to the residency program personnel which you interviewed or met with once you have done with your interview. The thankyou letteroffers youone lastopportunityto leave a good impression and to jog the interviewer's memory. For ultimate outcome, do it twice, once directly after the interview and once just before the ranking time about early February.
Some facts to take into consideration when sending a thank you letter.
1. Although emails are the preferred way of communication over mail and cards, however, for interview purposes in particular, especially in the busy match season where the program directors and coordinators willbe receiving thousands of emails regarding the application process as well as thank you letters and so on, in our experience, a thank you card that you fill in will draw a smile on the people you interviewed and met within the program on your interview day, I would advice you to get these THANK YOU CARDS. Yes and get alot of them, they fly like cookies. This is what I perdonally did, I didn’t send any thank you e-mails. It was all thank you cards. In fact when I was reviwing my application package at the program where I matcged, they had my car in itJ
2. Send letters to all the people with whom you interviewed with or have a sort of conversation with(Program Directors, Chairman, Chief residents, program coordinators and faculty).
I send thank you cards to every one that interviewed me, including the secretary (She is the one that sets everything and sent your interview invitation, you should be really thankful to her specially!) and unfortunately not many people will thank her
3. Don't type the letter, this is not professional. You need to show them that you are a real person with perfecthand writing. I heard that some faculty will rank people with good hand writing on top.
4. Personalize, personalize and personalize them by including facts observed during the interview including the hospital anatomy, chief residents tour, program coordinator reception and interview itself. If you had observership there earlier then you can mention too about it to remind them about how much you are already interested in the program.
5. Short and sweet is appropriate. The people who interview are very busy and most likely only glance at theletter.
6. Write the cards as soon as possible after the interview. Interviews at separate programs begin to blend, and if you don't take good notes it will be difficult to personalize your letters. Then send the card just before theranking period to keep your image fresh in their minds.
7. End with a simple, positive closing sentence like "I look forward to working you in the future." (Importantr thing: NEVER LIE! If you didn’t like the program or you will rank them on the bottom of your list, please don’t say that. But saying a than you letter is always nice! They took the time to go trhough hundres of applicants, reviwed all the aplications and selecte you with the interest of further meeting you more and possible working with you, so you should always be thankfull!
IMPORTANT TIP: If you don’t know where to mail the letter to, ask the program’s coordinator. She will be happy to assit you and provide you with thr address J
THANK TOU LETTERS examples:
Letter of InteND
(Please put in your own words)
Letters of intend are very similar to thank you letters, some people first say a thank you letter right after the interview and then a letter of interest by the end of the interview, letting them know that you will rank them, etc
EXAMPLE OF LETTER OF INTEND:
Dear Dr. X,
I wanted to thank you again for giving me the opportunity to interview at PROGRAM. I have completed the interview process and would like to once again express my sincere interest in xxxx (program name). Your program stands out and possesses all the qualities that are important to me in a training program (Or whatever you would naturally say. Personalize it by describing some of those strengths/qualities – how the program will meet your career goals).
It would truly be an honor to train at xxxx, and I hope you will seriously consider me for a position on your house staff. If you need any other additional information, please let me know.
Thank you very much for your time; I look forward to the Match and for the opportunity to work with etc.
1). NRMP Match policies do not preclude you from expressing a high level of interest to the programs which you are interested, however, it is a violation to ask programs for that information or for programs to ask you where you will be ranking them.
2). If a program has specifically told you not to send this type of post-interview communication, then you should NOT send one.
3). It is acceptable to inform only your #1 program that you will be ranking them number one. You should only do this if you are 100% sure, and there is no possibility that you could change your mind. This can be added to the sample email above.
4). It is advisable to avoid using ranking language in your communication. There are many ways to tell a program you are “extremely interested” in their program without saying where you will be ranking them. Be enthusiastic. Additional information is available on the Career Advising Website under Interview Preparation.
5). All communication with Programs should be professional and not misleading.
*Please keep in mind that your final communication/letters of intend may not have any impact on how you are ranked by programs.
Hope all these tips help you rock your interview and to match in the programs of your dreams!!
You should should be proud of yourself, you have accomplished so much getting here, taking the steps, struggling with money, family issues, rotations, getting out letters, etc you have accomplished so much already, and the best is yet to come!!
YOU ARE ABOUT TO BECOME A US PHYSICIAN!!! 🇺🇸🙌💖🤩🥳
Also don't freak out if you are not getting my interviews, a lot of programs will still send invites until mid December, interviewing will continue until mid January, and plus I know many people that matched with only 2-3 interviews !!! I got my last interview invitation December 14 and my last actual interview January 11!
Also next week I'm planning to do an Instagram live video going through all of this information, you can follow me in: @doctor.sebas :)
All my content in my website is FREE, but if you want to support my work:
SHARE THIS WITH YOUR FRIENDS! SPECIALLY THOS APPLYING THIS YEAR!! YOU WILL HELP THEM ALSO!! :)
Love you all!! You can read about all my other posts on my blog :)
Sebastian Arruarana, MD