Applying - Interview Scheduling

Updated September 2016

You got your application together, secured your letters, and chose which programs to apply to.  On this page we will discuss the logistics of scheduling and completing your interviews.

The Offer

Each residency program has their own timeline for when they start reviewing applications and offering interview spots. By mid to late October all programs will have sent out their first wave of interview offers. Most programs have a mechanism to allow for a rolling interview process, usually using a "wait list". Until you hear a formal "no", you still have a chance at getting an interview at that program.

Scheduling

The majority of interviews will happen in November and December, with some programs starting early (October), and most going into January. It may be tempting for travel purposes to try to do several interviews in a week. This will short change each interview experience as you are missing out by not making it to the night before event that most residencies host. You are better off having quality interview experiences where you really get to know a program, and where they get to meet you.

Travelling

Avoid checking baggage when you fly to an interview.  It will get lost and you will show up to interview day in jeans or a sweat suit. If this happens to you, let the program know and still show up for the interview.  


The Weather 


Interview season is the worst time to be traveling to the northern part of the country, which is of course where a large proportion of the programs are. Fortunately, programs understand that travel delays happen. Keep communication open and let people know if you are going to be late, or not going to make it at all. 


The Night Before


The evening prior to your interview the program will host a social event, usually a dinner or cocktails with residents, interviewees, and possibly some attendings. This is a great opportunity for you to see how the program is from the resident perspective, and observe the groups interactions. You can get many questions answered from different viewpoints, and this is a great time to see how you fit with each group. On subsequent reflection, many applicants find this to be the most useful part of the interview when making their decision about a program. Making it to the night before activities is why you need to pay attention to travel planning and spacing out interviews.  

Canceling

Canceling interviews is absolutely fine to do. No one will be offended or angry, so long as you give them enough notice. That way they can bring in another applicant who really wants to be there. If you realize that you have enough interviews you can begin canceling those that you think would end up lower down your rank list, for whatever reason (location, program type, reputation, etc.).  

The key is canceling early enough that the program can get another applicant in for that day. A few business days, even one weeks notice may make it difficult to bring someone else in. Ideally, cancel more than two weeks ahead of time and you have nothing to worry about.  


Conversely, if you find yourself as one of the many great candidates that doesn’t have enough interviews, you should consider freeing up your January schedule. There will be more cancelations in January as most applicants realize they really don't want or need to do more interviews. You want to be available on shorter notice.  These interviews count just as much as those done earlier in the year.


The Magic Number

Most applicants with 8 - 10 interviews will match successfully, regardless of background. The totally safe number is 12.  However, there is a very small group of folks who perform poorly in the interview setting and who do not match even with 12, or 15, or 20+ interviews. More interviews are not really going to help if you make a bad impression at each one. If someone recommends to you that you get some interview coaching, take that advice. They are trying to tell you something.

This is an expensive and emotionally taxing process. If you are going to put yourself through more than 12 interviews, do it because you want to get to see more programs, or because you are in a couples match, or because an offer at a place you really wanted to go comes in late. Those are good reasons. Don't do it for an illusion of safety you think you will have from completing 15 or 18 interviews. 


Not sure about these numbers?  Check out these other discussions of the most recent EM Match:

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