Interviewing is an art. You’ve put together a polished application to residency programs and have gotten your interview requests. Now it’s time to put yourself into the spotlight and land your #1 choice of residency. While interviews can definitely be intimidating, we’ve put together a list of 7 tips to help you succeed.
Different Interview Types Require Different Types of Preparation – Different types of interviews require different types of preparation. For example when preparing for an in-person interview, it’s a good idea to have a friend, colleague or mentor do a mock-interview with you so you can be more comfortable answering questions about your experience face-to-face. When you prepare for a video interview, you’ll want to make sure you’re in a quiet place, that you’re wearing attire you’d usually wear to an in-person interview and that the backdrop that you’ll be in front of is distraction-free. When preparing for a phone interview it’s especially helpful to print out a picture of the person that you’re interviewing with (Google their name), and speak to the photo as if you were speaking to that person face-to-face. This creates a feeling of familiarity and could decrease some uncomfortable feelings you may be having.
Starting Off, Your Time To Shine – Once pleasantries are out of the way, your interviewer is highly likely to ask one question, “Tell me about yourself”. Even though this is just the beginning of the interview, it’s extremely important as it’s your best chance to present yourself in the light that you want to be seen. Make sure your elevator pitch is well rehearsed, and hits on everything you want to highlight about your experience while also mentioning a personal fact about yourself (hometown, hobbies, favorite sports team, etc).
Behavioral Questions 101 – This is an interview, so you’re going to be asked a TON of questions. Even though you’re well prepped and know your experience inside and out, behavioral interview questions often cause an interviewee to stumble. To approach these types of questions, it’s best to follow this formulaic approach: describe a situation in detail, tell what course of action you took and share what the result was.
Examples of behavioral questions include:
- Tell me about a time you worked effectively under pressure.
- Tell me about a stressful situation you experienced in medical school and how you handled it.
- Tell me about a time you made a mistake and had to tell a resident or attending.
- Tell me how you would you deal with a resident who wasn’t doing his share of the work.
Keep Your Cool – While most users on Reddit claim that their interviews were ‘laid back’, it’s important to keep your cool during your interview. User ‘ArmyOrtho’ describes a situation in which a PD handed them a nut and a bolt and stated that they were to thread the two together using only their left hand, all while being questioned about their experience. The interview is described as ‘high pressure’ with the PD grilling the interviewee about a B-. When the interview comes to a close, the PD asked for the nut and bolt to see if they were threaded as requested. Little did the interviewee know that they were different sizes and it was impossible to thread. The PD later said that the he didn’t care about the B-, all he cared about was that the interviewee could do well under pressure and keep their cool.
Using The Internet Is Not Cheating – We live in a world where information can be shared so freely, so why not take advantage of it? BenWhite.com has a fantastic list of interview questions that have been asked over the years. Student Doctor Network’s forums are also an excellent place to do research, some threads even list the exact questions that were asked at specific programs. Again, this is not a form of cheating your way through the interview. It’s a way for you to be better prepared and informed going into it.
Ask Questions – It’s inevitable that at the end of the interview you’re going to be asked “Do you have any questions for me?” Just as you were able to set your stage at the beginning of the interview with your elevator pitch, this is your chance to finalize your impression or change perceptions if you think things may not be going your way. You’ll want to come into the interview with 5-10 questions that you want to ask, assuming some of them will be answered throughout your interview, and ultimately asking 3-5 of them. Turning again to Reddit, here is a large collection of solid questions you can ask.
You Know More Than You Think You Know – The worst thing you can do during an interview is to doubt yourself. You’ve been on this journey in medicine for years and you’ve put in countless hours of studying and work. You know more than you think you know. You’ve got this, go out and ace it.