6 Tips for Contacting Medical Residency Programs for an Interview
After ERAS submission, it is time to prepare for residency interviews. If it has been 4-6 weeks after application submission and you have not heard back from your top programs, you should consider contacting them for an interview. Crafting a professional e-mail to ask a residency program for an interview can be intimidating, but this article will provide you with tips for this process.
- Make sure your Subject is clear and professional. The Subject should convey the intention of your e-mail. A commonly used subject is “Interest in Your Program.”
- Make sure to include your information. Your e-mail should include your name, e-mail, phone number, and AAMC ID. The latter is important since programs can use this to quickly look up your application. If you make it easy for them to look it up, there is a higher chance that they will do so after reading your e-mail.
- Send it to the program coordinator and program director. Since program coordinators often have more time than directors, and it is their job to address these e-mails, it is best to send the e-mail to them. You should CC the program director, but do not expect to get a response from them.
- Make your e-mail unique. You should write a different e-mail to each program. Make sure to discuss why you are interested in the program and if you have any geographic attachments to the area. Do not copy and paste the same general e-mail to all residency programs asking for an interview. This will be obvious and reflect poorly on you as an applicant. The program also gets hundreds of e-mails per day, so you need to give yourself the best chance of standing out. See if you can include a memorable fact about yourself or your experiences that make you a great fit for the program.
- Keep it concise. Your e-mail is more likely to be read if it is shorter rather than longer. Keep it under 200-250 words and make sure that every sentence you include holds significance. There should not be any fillers.
- Proofread multiple times. Do not make any grammatical or spelling errors. Read it out loud and make sure nothing sounds awkward. If possible, you can have a friend or mentor look over it as well.
Here is an example of an e-mail asking for an interview at a residency program:
Subject: Strong Interest in Your Internal Medicine Program
Dear Ms Jacobs and Dr. Fowler,
My name is Jane Smith and I applied to the internal medicine residency program at Stanford University. Your program offers a wide breadth medical experience in a rigorous training setting, which I am looking for as a future resident. I enjoyed learning about the variety of research opportunities at your program. I am looking for a program where I can continue my work in research alongside my medical training, and I believe I will find strong research mentors at your program in cardiology. I am particularly interested in working with Dr. Grey on studying the use of stem cells to regenerate muscle fibers. In my application, you will find that I have been involved in similar research since I was in college, and have published articles in multiple peer-reviewed journals as well as presented at national conferences. Working in Dr. Grey’s lab will enable me to further pursue my passion for this field. I am further drawn to your program because the location would allow me frequent visits with my family in San Francisco, California.
In reviewing my application, you will find that my upbringing in Moldova and immigrant background will offer a unique perspective as a internal medicine resident at your program. My strong work ethic is reflected throughout my application. Please consider me for an interview at your prestigious program.
Thank you for your time and consideration. I hope to hear from you soon.
(123) 456 -7890
AAMC ID: 12345678
Though your e-mail will likely be read, it does not guarantee an interview at your residency program of choice. To further increase your chances, ask one of your mentors to e-mail or call the program (in addition to your own e-mail). If you have a mentor who has connections to the program, this is your best bet.
If you decide to call the program instead of sending an e-mail, make sure you are prepared and have written out all of what you would like to say. The content of the call should be similar to your e-mail. You will likely be speaking to the program coordinator or leaving a voicemail. Be polite and friendly. In a call, it is important to convey your excitement for the program through your voice. You should choose to either send an e-mail or make a call. Program coordinators are busy during interview season so it is best to not overwhelm them with both.
Residency Interview Preparation
Now that you have been invited to interview, it is time to brush up on your interviewing skills. At each program, you will likely be interviewed by multiple attendings, and possibly the program director or assistant program director. Each of these interviews are often short, 15-20 minutes, so it is important to be prepared and make that time count.
In order to prepare, look up the most common asked residency interview questions and write out the answers to these. Be prepared to discuss about yourself, why you chose your specialty, and why you would like to train at that program. Practice answering these questions out loud until your answers are polished. One of the best ways to prepare for your interviews is by doing mock interviews. If your medical school offers these, take advantage of them. In addition to this, ask one or more of your mentors within your specialty to do a mock interview with you and give you feedback. You may also enlist the help of an Elite Medical Prep residency advisor to hold mock interviews with you.
You should prepare questions to ask your interviewers, but make sure it is not something that can easily be found on the program’s website. Furthermore, prepare questions to ask the residents at the pre-interview dinner and lunch time.
Finally, you should prepare your suit and shoes. Try these on and make sure they fit well and are comfortable. Your look should reflect that you are a hard-working professional who is ready to be a doctor. Avoid bright colors for your suit. This can be seen as unprofessional by some. There are much better ways to stand out in your interview.
Prior to your interview day, you will likely attend a pre-interview dinner. Usually these will only be attended by applicants and residents, but at some programs you may encounter attendings and even the program director. Pre-interview dinners usually take place at a nearby restaurant, and rarely at one of the resident’s houses. There are almost always alcoholic drinks provided. Though this is a laid-back environment, it is important that you maintain your professionalism. Limit yourself to 1-2 drinks and focus your energy on talking to the residents rather than other applicants. Be polite, friendly, and make sure to smile. This is the best time to show the residents of this program that you will be an excellent fit. This is also a great time to inquire about what to expect on your interview day. If you know which attendings you are interviewing with, ask the residents about them. Most residents are very receptive to this and want to help you do well, especially if you are friendly and polite. You can then apply your newly discovered information on your interview day to really stand out! For example, if the residents tell you that “x” attending spearheaded the robotics program at this surgery residency, make sure to ask the attending about this. You can even talk about your interest in and experience with robotics, but make sure this is genuine. Furthermore, ask residents about the program and culture, and use this as the answer for why you want to attend the program.
Now onto your interview day. Make sure you get up earlier than you think you need to. Account for the time that it will take you to get to the hospital and find the location of your interview. Be kind to everyone around you, including the administrative staff and other interviewees. Though you only spend limited time with your interviewers, you are watched closely during your interview day so it is important to maintain professionalism. At the same time, be personable and be yourself. Maintain a positive attitude throughout your interview day and make sure to thank the interviewers and residents for their time, acknowledging their busy schedules. Your goal is to walk away from your interview day confident that you showed your best self and really made sure the program knew how much you want to match there. If you would like more guidance on writing an interview request e-mail and preparing for your interviews, Elite Medical Prep offers advising from current residents. Schedule a free consultation to hear more about how we can help you get into the residency program of you dreams! Good luck!