Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Interview Advice from ALiEM

Over at the invaluable Academic Life in Emergency Medicine (ALiEM) blog, Christina Shenvi, MD PhD, has written a tremendous post full of great tips on the "Dos and Don'ts of Residency Interviewing".  I strongly recommend you check it out.  

How to excel during interview season is a topic we have tackled here in the past as well.  Have a look at this guide to scheduling your interviews.  Included are tips on how many interviews to do, managing all the travel, the value of the night before, and how to gracefully handle canceling interviews you no longer need.

We also have a separate guide to the interview day itself.  Included are tips on making a great first impression, having good questions, and a reminder to make sure that you interview the program too - that you get what you need out of the day.  

And a few other interview resources bouncing around the #FOAMed universe:

Friday, October 16, 2015

Interview Explosion Day

For students applying for Emergency Medicine in the 2016 match October is an anxiety provoking month.  You completed your application, selected your programs, and coaxed letters and SLOE's out of your advisors, mentors, and rotation supervisors.  And now you are waiting to find out if your application strategy was a good one.  Hopefully you "Applied Wisely".

On the residency program side: they have been furiously reviewing applications and either offering their initial wave of interviews or preparing to do so TODAY (October 16th).  A group of residency programs, the "County Program Group", started a movement to use a single interview offer date to offer out their first wave of interviews.  The idea was to give the students all of their interviews offers at one time so they can make a decision on which to actually sign up for.  They shared this plan with the other EM program directors, many of whom committed to participate.  This means that a lot of interview offers are going out in the afternoon and evening of October 16th.  As those with interview offers already know, other programs had to start offering interviews earlier than today because of they start their interviews in the next couple of weeks.

The effect of this is that you will not really know how well your initial application strategy worked until tomorrow.  There will be a few folks who have more interview offers than they can possibly do.  And their will be a vast majority who are nervous that they are not going to get enough interviews to feel secure with their rank list.  As the applicants with excess interview offers start to cancel, the interviews will trickle down to the rest of the applicant pool.  Take a look here for more on Scheduling Interviews.

If you find yourself with an uncomfortably low number of interviews there are a few things you can do right now:  

  1. Check your "spam folder" for interview offers sent by "Interview Broker".  This is a software many programs use to schedule interviews and some email clients are tagging these emails as spam.  You may have offers you did not know about.  
  2. Double check your ERAS.  Make sure you have released your USMLE and/or COMLEX transcript and check to see that everything you have control over is actually uploaded.  If your scores or important letters (SLOE's) are missing, your application is likely to be considered incomplete by many programs and has not yet gotten fully reviewed.  Even with most interview spots offered out by today you still have opportunities to interview as programs start making use of their "Wait Lists". 
  3. Reevaluate your schedule in December and January.  Are you going to have time those months, especially January, to go on interviews on shorter notice.  These interviews count just the same as those done earlier and you want your schedule to be flexible.
If you are in the enviable position of having lots of interviews (more than 12) it is time to make your priority list.  Pre-rank all of the programs you applied to in the order you actually want to interview there.  When you have more than you need, start to let go of the ones you are less interested in.  This is a service to your fellow students and future colleagues and is certainly what you would hope others would do if the tables were turned.  

Good luck!

Adam Kellogg is an Associate Residency Director and a former Clerkship Director. He is the Chair of the CORD Student Advising Task Force whose mission is to improve the quality of the advising students receive who are applying to Emergency Medicine.