Applying - The Interview Day

Updated September 2016

In the Emergency Medicine application process the interview day has a huge impact on your ultimate rank list placement. For Program Directors, meeting someone and feeling they will be a great fit for the culture of your program will outweigh almost any other part of their application. Be prepared so you can make a great impression.


Best foot forward


  • Arrive early.  Plan ahead to guarantee that you will not to be late. 
  • Dress professionally.  You do not need to wear your black or funeral-gray suit, however you also should not look like you are going tailgating or clubbing right after the interview.
  • Be courteous.  To everyone you encounter, especially the residency coordinators.
  • Be yourself.  The professional version of yourself.

The Pitch

The Program Director will almost invariably give you some kind of overview of the program or "sales pitch". This may even include perceived weaknesses and plans for improvement. Even if their presentation seems balanced, they are still emphasizing the programs strengths, just as you did with your application. You will usually have an opportunity to talk individually with the Program Director and other members of the residency and you owe it to yourself to dig deeper.


Have Questions

You will also have the chance to talk one on one with members of the program. Most interviewers are going to give you a chance to ask your questions and they will be disappointed if you have none. You have gone to all of the expense to come to the interview, do not appear disinterested for lack of having questions. 
  • Basic questions - These are the ones you ask at all programs. These questions should get at the characteristics that most matter to you. These are your go to questions as you can ask them of multiple people at the same interview. Seeing if you get different answers from different people can be very enlightening (ie. the Program Director and a resident may have very different perspectives on what the work hours are like).
  • Program specific - Next, look at the residency website and come up with 3-5 questions targeted to that program. These should not be things easily answered from the website. Looking for clarification on something you read on the website works nicely and establishes your interest as genuine. 
  • Interviewer specific - If you know ahead of time who you will interview with, it is okay to look them up and have questions about their role and experience within the program. Even if you don't get to look them up ahead of time you can still ask them about their interests and role. Everyone enjoys talking about themselves. Everyone. 

Engage

Keep up your energy and interest level throughout the interview. Lean forward, listen, and smile. Avoid slouching, leaning backward, and swearing. As the interview season goes on this will get harder than it sounds. Despite your current fervor, after a few months of interviews you will likely be tired, bored, and ready for a break. You may begin to show disinterest just from the monotony of it all. This is one of the reasons most people start declining and canceling interviews once they have 10-12.  For all of the reasons, have a look at the EMRA article: Diagnosing the Match.


Interview the program


You may feel like the power dynamic is entirely in the programs direction after waiting and waiting to get an interview offer. However, once you are there, they want to rank you. If they gave you an interview you are academically good enough. The Match algorithm is student weighted, so when it comes to rank lists you will have the power.  Be sure that you treat the process like a consumer and find out about the things that matter most to your education.


After the interview


Many people send thank you notes or emails to the program director, and maybe to the folks they interviewed with. This is certainly not mandatory, but there are some programs that count this. You should certainly be contacting the programs where you had a really good experience and that you know you are going to rank highly.

More interviewing resources:


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