Interviews. You hear about it for three years, talk about it with your friends and co-externs, and get advice for it from residents and attendings. However, nothing can prepare you for exactly what you are about to experience. Some programs have straightforward cases and just want to see your thinking process. Others want to see your dexterity and hand skills. A few programs will even ask you questions about articles while you are trying to work on bone saws or fly a drone, which is a method to test how you multitask and handle stress in different situations. This being said, there are some things you learn through the experience and lessons to take with you. Based on my experience, here are five pearls I picked up during and after interviews.
Choosing A Program
Don’t let interviews sway your choices of programs. A lot of people have an idea of what they want, then completely change their mind after interviews. From my experience and from what I am told by residents, anyone can act well for a couple of days. This advice pertains to students, attendings, residents, patients, and anyone else you are in contact with during your life. The month of externship you spent at a program or the day you spent visiting will tell you a lot more about how a program is run versus a twenty-minute interview. A solution to this all-too-common problem is to write a review of each program you extern at or visit after your time there. Following interviews, you can use these reviews to help jog your memory about what the program was like, how you felt there, and any pros or cons you observed. This can help you make a more well-thought-out decision that will ultimately lead to your success and happiness.
Don’t let Interviews sway your choices of programs.
Rank based on where you want to go and where you believe you will be the happiest. Do not rank based on what you estimate to be your best chance of matching. Everyone wants to match. It’s what we lose the most sleep over; and everything we do in school is to prepare us for residency and becoming physicians. However, if you rank a place higher on your list because you are afraid of not matching, then you may have very well missed your chance of matching at your favorite program. As students, the ranking system is in our favor. Everyone wants students to match and achieve their goal. Therefore, it is important to try and help yourself be the happiest you can be.
Practice, practice, practice. When preparing for interviews, it is important to practice going through cases or answering questions out loud. While it may feel very awkward at first, this is what you will have to be doing in your interviews. So, my solution was to study and then go through cases with my friends to review what I learned and practice interview skills. The externship I had in December, as well as my school, held mock interviews to help us prepare. This includes where I’m looking at when I’m talking, going through what I’m going to wear, trying to not say “umm” or have long pauses in my answers, and other aspects of my interview I would not have noticed otherwise. These kinks can get worked out before you have your interviews at your favorite programs so you can shine. Also, I would recommend trying to have one or two practice interviews. These are usually early in the interview process and help you to get your feet wet. While I didn’t take this advice myself, I can say from experience that after my first interview, I was much more relaxed and knew what I was walking into (with a few exceptions). The more practice you have with interview styles, the more relaxed you will be for your actual interviews.
Practice, practice, practice. When preparing for interviews, it is important to practice…
When in Texas, always conduct yourself as if you are going to run into residents or attendings from programs. Dress relatively nice, even when going out to dinner with friends. NEVER speak poorly about a program or person when at interviews. You never know who is around, who will see you, or who will hear about what you said. For five days, remain on your toes until you are in your hotel room. Interviews are very tiring and trying time for a lot of people. So, an ill-intentioned comment can really upset others and potentially hurt your success at a program.
Finally, I would not recommend staying at the same hotel that the interviews are being conducted. A friend and I stayed ¼ a mile from the hotel, and it was a blessing. The walk to and from interviews allowed us to quietly think and calm down. There were fewer attendings and residents, so we felt removed from the stress of interviews. Also, it was less expensive. Others got Air B&Bs close to the hotel. There are several options, but if you can have a small oasis from the chaos and emotional drainage of interviews, I highly suggest taking that opportunity. Minimizing or having an outlet for your stress can help to recharge your batteries, so that after several interviews or days of interviews, you aren’t worn down and unable to process cases or questions.
While interviews are extremely important and we spend four years preparing for them, all you can do is your best. Put your best foot forward, practice your interview skills, and try to minimize your stress as best you can. Each person’s experience is different at CRIP. Some feel as though they did terrible in an interview, but the interviewers may very well have the opposite perspective or opinion. Some places will shock you when you discover you are not where you thought you would be in their rankings. However, everything happens for a reason and there is always an opportunity to learn and grow from any experience. My hope is that this advice allows you to maximize your experience at CRIP and ultimately helps you succeed and achieve your goals. Best of luck on all your endeavors!
School: Barry School of Podiatric Medicine
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