So you've just graduated medical school, and you’re heading off to your residency interview. Should be easy enough… If you can survive medical school you can survive anything, right? That is true for some people, but for others it will take preparation. In order to ensure that you nail your residency interview and end up in your dream program, here are some tips to make you stand out from the rest and make the most of every minute that you’re in front of the program director:
1. Dress to impress.
When you look on the Internet, you’ll find countless articles pinpointing the perfect outfit for men and women to wear in an interview. All of these articles have one common theme: dress conservatively. The most important thing to remember when going on an interview is that it is not a fashion show. If your interviewer remembers you based on your outfit rather than your intelligence, you’d better start applying to other programs immediately. If you present yourself with an unusual outfit or hairdo, it could cost you your acceptance into a program. All in all, just think professional and conservative and you won’t regret it.
2. Make a good first impression.
You’ve heard it before: first impressions are everything, and this is especially true in any interview situation. From making good eye contact to having a firm handshake, these small gestures all constitute making a good first impression with your interviewer. Again, your appearance is the first thing someone sees when you walk through the door, so it is essential that you look as professional and flattering as possible. Having a warm smile and pleasant voice also contribute to establishing a good rapport. The goal is to exude positivity and confidence the moment you walk through the door.
3. Ask questions.
One thing you can expect to hear in an interview is “Do you have any questions?” It is imperative that you already have questions prepared to ask. Asking questions not only keeps you engaged with your interviewer, but also makes you look intrigued and interested in learning more about what the program has to offer. Questions like “What qualities do you look for in a candidate?”, “What is this program most respected for?”, and “What do residents here like most and least?” are excellent questions to think about asking prior to attending your interview. Even if your interviewer can’t answer your question, they will appreciate your interest.
4. Prepare to answer tough questions.
The last thing you want in an interview is to sound clueless when answering a question asked by your interviewer. The best way to avoid this situation is to practice! Participate in a practice interview where you can rehearse answering any question that an interviewer could potentially throw your way to avoid choking up the day of your interview. If asked about any deficiencies or anomalies in your application, answer with honesty. Even if you prepare for your responses, make them heartfelt and unrehearsed. Your answer to a question can make or break you in an interview, make preparations to ensure that you answer each question to the best of your ability.
5. Don’t forget: You're also interviewing the program!
Most who are going through the residency program interview process forget that although programs are ranking you, you are also ranking their programs in order to make a final decision. Discover the strengths and weaknesses of each program and consider the environment to see if it fits all of your needs. Ask questions that will give you an idea if that program is best suited to meet your educational and professional needs. At the end of the day, you want to work in an environment where you can be comfortable and enjoy yourself, while obtaining the best education possible for your specialty.
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