Mandatory Mea Culpa over once again letting this journal go empty for… months.
Chief is in full swing, and has been for months. It's been a ridiculous journey, and I still have yet to receive my ceremonial feathered headdress.
What it really has given me is an extraordinary insight into the interview process. Three years ago, I was on the interview trail looking for a residency program to call home. Now I'm bringing nervous students in black suits to my office, telling people to have a seat.
So, let's talk about what you should (and shouldn't!) do on your interview.
First, the suit. Yes, you have to wear it. I personally compliment everyone who goes with gray, navy or any other color. Also, please make sure it's pressed and fits you well. We do notice this stuff and it does matter.
Women, for the love of GOD, wear shoes you can walk in. I had to stop a hospital tour half way through one day because a female applicant had made a poor choice in her very tall heels that weren't broken in. She looked ridiculous and it reflected poorly on her as an applicant. Is it trite or superficial to judge her on that? Possibly, but we are having to make a snap judgement on your character based on approximately 4 hours of interaction and your file.
Which brings me to your file. To date, there are only a few things that have given me pause in a person's application. A DUI, a dispute with the med school administration (which the applicant then spoke about in a fairly unprofessional manner) and someone who had purposefully chosen to delay Step 2 until after they had interviewed.
The personal statement is sweet, and I could probably make a drinking game out of them. A shot for a dying patient, someone you "really reached" because they were noncompliant and you explained their meds to them, or "this doctor made an impression on me when I was younger, so now I want to be one!"
The letters of recommendation are usually glowing - but I really caution you against going for a "name" in your institution who doesn't know you. We can spot a bland letter of rec in a second and it doesn't do you any favors. The genuine ones can really help, because we're looking for anyone who actually gets to work with you for more than a day.
On the interview day:
DON'T BE LATE. If some catastrophe causes you to be late, call IMMEDIATELY. Nothing looks worse than someone who is late and doesn't appear to care about it.
DON'T SWEAR. (You'd think I wouldn't have to say this….)
Relax. Please just relax. If you're funny, crack jokes. If you're chatty, make conversation. If you high five people when you agree with something, go for it. We want to see who you really are, and I get frustrated by the people who I suspect are warm, fun interesting people who are petrified into statues of their former selves.
Because at the end of the day, all we want to do is figure out two things: are you going to do the work, and am I going to want to work along side you?
The applicants I ranked the highest spent a not insignificant portion of the interview talking about our mutual interests (trashy reality television as a guilty pleasure and food policy in the US, respectively). Their file had already demonstrated that they were a smart, hard working and capable med student but those conversations convinced me that I wanted that person to come to my hospital and join the ranks of my residency.
We can beat the stupid out of people as long as you work hard, and the scores and grades are really just what get you in the door. Once you're there, please just have fun and enjoy the free dinner.
And I promise not to make you sculpt an Eiffel tower out of toothpicks while reciting the mechanism of action of various antibiotics.