By Samantha Zdanowicz.
If you’re reading this, the first thing I want to say is congrats and commend you on trying to be the best prepared you can! As I am sure you’re aware, the Centralized Residency Interview Process or CRIP is the annual event in Frisco, TX where podiatric residencies gather to interview their next potential interns. This year, it was my turn. From my experience, it was a mixture of emotions. From excitement to see classmates and friends I haven’t seen in months to anxiety for wanting to do well in my interviews and sadness in bombing an interview or seeing friends stress out for not getting that call from their top program. Lastly, joy for us getting those calls. Looking back, there are more good times than bad, and I’m sharing this with you in hopes you take the same advice I received.
First off, don’t stay at the embassy suites! Residents and attendings will tell you this too. You are being watched constantly and, as I mentioned above, it’s an environment filled with emotions. In other words, it’s not the best place to hang out. Whenever possible, get away from the hotel to relax and be yourself. In between interviews, don’t study. You know what you know, and you’ll only drive yourself crazy. If you wind up not knowing something during an interview, don’t sweat it, stay calm, and just admit it. We all forget things, especially in stressful situations. One question shouldn’t make or break you. The last piece of advice I have for you is to take advantage of every opportunity you get. You will only match into one program, but have the potential to make lots of connections. Get yourself out there and have fun!
Preparing for Interviews and Boards
There’s a lot to cover, and the earlier you start the better. For myself, preparing for both was one in the same for the most part. Most people I’ve talked to, including myself, utilized BoardVitals, Crozer, Watkins (Pocket Pod), and Prism +. Also, for on the go studying, you should check out prepodiatrystudy.com for some more up to date questions students have been asked on externships and interviews.
The main difference in preparing for interviews versus boards is the speaking component. The key component while preparing is you need to practice talking out loud. Get your hands on or make some cases to go over with 1-2 friends. These cases should not only include academic questions but social questions too. In the month leading up to interviews, my friends and I each did one case per day critiquing and making suggestions for better wording and reviewing the information we didn’t know. When practicing, it is good to know the varying styles or components of interviews you will come across. I outlined below and most will incorporate a few different aspects. While externing at programs, ask residents for advice. Many are happy to practice with you and will tell you the structure of how their program does interviews.
These are fairly straight forward of what you would expect. Stick to a system whatever it might be, such as NLDOCAT or OPQRST. Don’t forget to ask about the vitals. Most cases will be either the most common podiatry complaints or podiatric surgical emergencies.
Random factoid questions. This is where starting early and utilizing the above resources comes in. If you wait until the last minute, it will be a lot to try to absorb. Some are truly random or not applicable in your day to day life except for this purpose. Don’t dwell on them during interviews if they aren’t coming to you; ask to move on to the next. My rule was 10 seconds. If you remember the answer at the end of the interview, you can tell them what it was.
Very wide spectrum of possibilities. From suturing to flying drones, playing Jenga, or defusing a computer game bomb. I found these to be super fun but hard to prepare for. The key to preparing for these is by practicing multi-tasking with any activity. You usually do these hand skills while being asked rapid-fire questions. The most common ones I encountered and suggest practicing are suturing, single and double hand ties, and molding bones of the foot out of playdough.
These sound easy, but they can be harder than you think. This is a way to show interviewers you truly prepared by practicing social questions. For example “Tell me about yourself … for 3 minutes straight.” For myself and others, it’s hard to talk about yourself without feeling awkward or like you’re bragging. So, definitely practice these out loud. Prism has a bunch of these questions at the end and have fun making up funny random questions to ask your friends. These questions can be like what is your spirit animal? Don’t forget to come up with your own why. For every weird question they ask, they will ask you why. It’s lame to just say it’s my favorite animal.
Ethical and Political Questions
Stick to your opinions; don’t let them sway you to change your answers. On the same token, know your audience. Be true to yourself, but don’t offend anyone. Some examples I was asked were related to healthcare incidents, utilizing the chain of command, opinions on global warming, universal health care, and gun laws.
Pinning You Against an Attending in the Room
These are rare but are good to know to exist because they are the hardest, in my opinion. They may respond to a question you got right and say “really? I don’t think so” to see how you react and if you will change your answer. The flip side is a chain of command situation wherein the theoretical scenario you disagree with the attending.
Stations and Group
Some interviews are just you and the interviewers while others may have you interviewing with other applicants. Station interviews will move you around the room, typically with another interviewee, and utilize multiple interview styles as above. Group interviews will have you sit in a row and will have you go down the line answering questions. Interviewers frequently ask you if you agree with the other student or not or if you have anything else to add.
I hope this information helps you prepare and best of luck in your interviews!
By Samantha Zdanowicz.
Hindsight in 2020
Special Edition, 4th year
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