Welcome to my five-part blog series on my tips and tricks for the residency interview season!
Interview season is in full swing, and these are the 3-4 months that I have been looking forward to since I applied for residency. It is an exciting and fun process, but also exhausting and repetitive. Along the way, I have made plenty of mistakes and collected many tips for surviving this unique time in med school.
I have divided this blog into several sections:
Part I – for days before and between interviews
Part II – for traveling by air
Part III – for traveling by car
Part IV – for things to bring/wear on interview day
Part V – for things to do/avoid on interview day
So without further ado – here are some of my tips for things to do/avoid on the interview day:
- Find your “Goldilocks Zone” for coffee and food
If you normally drink coffee, make sure you drink some on the day of your interview – you will need all the energy you can get. But, don’t drink so much that you are a jittery mess. This also applies to food. If you are prone to getting ‘hangry,’ then eat – no one wants to deal with a cranky applicant. But, BEWARE OF THE CARBS. Food coma is an unfortunate reality (at least in my world), so make sure you are not eating so much that you turn into a zombie right after lunch.
- Avoid the powdered sugar!
Take this from my personal experience – there will come a day when you will be presented with a doughnut covered in powdered sugar or a cookie sprinkled with all the sugary goodness, and you WILL be tempted. Fight the temptation! No amount of delicious confectionary is worth looking like you lost a fight with a bottle of baby powder.
- Take notes
You are going to go on many interviews during the interview season. The good thing about applying to residency in America is that the ACGME makes sure that all programs are accredited and meeting standards in order to provide you with a good clinical experience. So, in general, this means that no matter where you match, you can be confident that you will be well trained. This is obviously a great thing, but unfortunately, it makes picking between programs even harder. Because most programs are very good, it becomes the little things (like food availability, work hours, location, resident personalities, etc) that weigh more on your decisions later on.
Unfortunately, all these little details are easy to forget and will quickly blur together as you go on more and more interviews. So take notes. At first, I honestly had no idea what I was even taking notes on. It is hard to know what you are looking for in a residency program if you do not know what the possibilities are. This is where talking to residents, other medical students, and your advisors become important. I also picked up a lot during the interviews themselves because people will often try to emphasize the things that applicants should be looking for.
This one is obvious. Just do it. Smiling is awesome.