New From the Interview Trail
Bill Wu, MSIV University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio (UTHSCSA) [email protected]
Interviewing is hard.
From the applicant’s perspective, it is blindly assuming that you would absolutely fancy working with a group of total strangers for the foreseeable future. Then, if you are offered an interview, it is attempting to appear relaxed, comfortable and not stiff in an all‐too‐unfamiliar environment. It is trying to convince the person or panel across from you that they should date you for the next four years.
Therefore, here are some steps on how to conquer it.
The application: It goes without saying that to do well on interviews, you must first get interviews. While academics are obviously crucial in that respect, there’s an often under‐emphasized text field in ERAS that, in my interview trail, has attracted more compliments and interest from my interviewers than my personal statement, and is one section I wish I had spent more time on: “Hobbies and Interests.” The program director’s job is to find each candidate’s uniqueness and assess whether he or she would like to get to know you better. Additionally, a note on letters of recommendation: Pick writers who know you not just academically, but personally as well, ones who have seen you outside the standard hospital workday and can speak more fully of your personality and character.
Interview day: Interview day starts as soon as you meet the residents at dinner (for programs that offer dinner the night before). In my opinion, being well‐liked at these pre‐interview “mingles” might not put you ahead of everyone else, but displaying poor judgment can and will sink you before you even set foot in the hospital. As cliché as it sounds, be yourself and trust in yourself. Be prepared but relax as well. Being invited to interview means you’ve already convinced the program that you have, at least on paper, what it takes to succeed at their institution. Through my experience as a medical school interviewer, I have found that we are pretty good at detecting if an applicant is truly genuine. Thus, if you are an introvert, now is not the time to try out the Internet’s top ten tips to be more extroverted. Put the best version of yourself forward, but do not pretend to be someone you are not. Remember, this is as much your interview of the program and if it fits for you as it is their interview of you.
Once you begin your interview trail, you will encounter a plethora of advice and opinion. Remember that every ounce of advice you receive will be shaped and tinted by the unique perspectives of the adviser. It is up to you to realize that no two interview trail experiences are alike. In the end, go with what you feel is right, regardless of what others tell you.
Posted winter 2016