Here are some tips to optimize your interview day and show prospective residency programs your potential.
With applications submitted and PHORCAS deadlines passed, your wait for residency interview requests has begun. As you wait, programs are reviewing residency candidate applications, and the first round of cuts are being made. When you get the interview invitation, breathe. Now is the time to prepare and gather anything you might need to optimize the interview. Here are some tips to show prospective programs your potential:
Once you arrive, take a calming moment prior to entering. Remember that the interview starts when you walk through the doors and ends when you pass back out. Choose your statements and questions carefully. The process can be rather intimidating. Knowing that it will be long, usually all day, 6 to 8 hours, will help you be mentally prepared. Most programs include a tour. This is a dual-purpose tour where you meet the preceptors and see the facility, while the selection team is evaluating you. Choose your words and actions carefully. Stay professional, and turn your phone off.
The moderator will ask, “Do you have any questions? Yes. Always respond by asking at least 2 to 3 questions. Questions show that you are interested and invested in a future with the program at which you are interviewing. Your research or tour of the program is a great place to formulate questions. You may focus questions on the goals of the program and preceptors, aspects of core rotations or electives not already discussed, or aspects of the program, such as certifications, daily schedule, and flexibility. Asking questions also allows your interviewer to shine about the program and his or her accomplishments. You can gain a lot of insight into work culture by how the residency program director and other members of the staff talk about the program.
Be confident, be yourself, and express your desire to be part of the team. You do not have to be the smartest candidate they interview. You want to be a teachable candidate. Show that you want to work hard to improve through your year of residency. Keep your goals in mind and how this residency program will help you achieve them. You want to stand out as the best candidate to match with the team, program, and goals. Remember this may be your final chance to leave a lasting impression before match day. Good luck, and be a boss!
This article was written with Emily Bilas, PharmD, PGY-1 resident, who is a clinical pharmacist at HCA West Florida Hospital in Pensacola.