Interviews—probably one of the most terrifying, anxiety-inducing experiences for fourth-year medical students applying to residency or pre-med students applying to medical school. Interview tips are probably what I get asked about most frequently because I happen to be the oddball who loves interviewing. Why? It gives me a chance to show someone who I am, and with that, let’s get started on some tips as you begin your interview trail. This series will be broken down into a series of tips prior to interview day and during the actual interview.
Pre-interview preparation is very important. It has a lot to do with preparing YOURSELF mentally and physically. These are tips that will be helpful in preparation well before your interview.
- Research the program. It’s really important to be aware of key faculty members within the program you’re interviewing at; I’ve made this mistake before. Let me tell you, I’ll never do it again. There’s something to be said for those who really look into the program and learn a few things. It also helps with asking questions which you’ll receive tips for in a later post.
- Research commonly asked questions. This is just as important as asking questions. Again, it will help reduce anxiety to feel somewhat prepared. Ask the program director at your institution for some commonly asked interview questions. Ask the residents at your program. They are there to help you. Also, it doesn’t hurt to search the world wide web. You have an abundance of resources, so use them to prepare.
- Practice + video. I don’t mean practice in front of a mirror and rehearse everything you say. You will not succeed if it all sounds rehearsed. Practicing helps reduce anxiety. Schedule a mock interview at your school or practice with a friend who is also applying to residency. Video the interaction, so you can spot what you can improve such as fidgeting or using filler words such as “um” or “uh.” It also gives you a chance to practice posture, eye contact, and remaining engaged throughout the interview.
- Dress for success. I won’t beat a dead horse because I’ve written a two-part series on “How to Look the Part for Interviews” so please see that for more information. I’ll say this: first impressions matter.
- Attend “optional” tours/social dinners. If invited to a social hour or dinner or campus tour, you better make plans to attend. Go ahead and RSVP for those events while scheduling your interview date. I’ve been told if you don’t attend the “optional” events, it makes you seem disinterested in the program.
Check out the next part in the series when I provide tips for the day before the interview day!