Notes from the Interview Workshop

By Gary K. Shen, M.D.

Getting Ready

  • Your top goal is to convince each program that you are the perfect "fit."
  • Find out something about the program. Any unique aspects. Find out something about the interviewers if you are provided the names. Visit student websites of recent interview experiences.
  • Identify someone you can get a hold of reliably (coordinator, program director, assistant program director). Need to communicate any changes in plans. No call/no show is not acceptable.
  • Use only School of Medicine email for communication.
  • Clean up your social media presence. Cleary identify yourself so programs don't mistake someone else for you.
  • Travel light, carry-on only. Double check availability of local transportation.
  • Take advantage of mock interviews with your advisor/other faculty.

The Big Day

  • Be On Time. Be On Time. Be On time.
  • Be confident and respectful. Be polite to everyone.
  • Conservative attire, comfortable shoes.
  • If at a conference, show interest, don't fall asleep.
  • Have prepared statements/scripts for common questions, examples:
    • Why are you interested in this specialty?
    • Why are you interested in us?
    • Personal connections (an University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine graduate, a resident, our faculty, family).
    • Prepare to discuss if in another part of the country.
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Tell me about a difficult day/person?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years/after you graduate?
  • Discuss/expand anything you put down ERAS (a unique background, a research paper, a talent, a special interest).
  • If you have a gap or a red flag in your resume:
    • Prepare to discuss, don't make excuses, and focus on the positive take-a-ways.
  • Group interviews: engage in the discussion, don't show off.
  • Be prepared for "strange" questions. How you answer is more important than what you say.
  • Have prepared questions for the interviewers, examples:
    • Why is she there? What doe she like about her job?
    • What are the strengths of the programs? What are the positive changes taking place?
    • What are you looking for in your residents?
    • Where do residents go after they finish?
  • Ancillary activities
    • Almost all programs have receptions/social gathering—make every effort to go, don't be too casual, easy on the alcohol. Watch what you say and do outside of the formal interviews—everything you say will be reported back.
    • Tour and speak to residents—Do they show up? Find out about their lives, especially outside of work. Are they happy?
    • Some interview days include rounding/observation of their clinical activity (e.g. Emergency Med).

Parting Thoughts

  • Immediately write down your impressions.
  • If a return visit is available, take advantage if you can.
  • Write thank you notes/emails.