Post Interview Communication: The Residency Thank You Letter
Everything You Need to Know About Writing a Residency Thank You Letter
Post-interview communication side of applying to residency has recently been a nebulous space which tends to raise plenty of well-intentioned questions from applicants on what is and what is not acceptable. This has lead to the popular question: Should I send a residency thank you letter? Whether it’s the silence and uncertainty between your last interview and Match day or whether you simply want to say a quick thank-you to the program for their time during interview day, here are a couple rules and tips we’ve compiled to help you out when considering a residency thank you letter.
Post-interview Residency Thank You Letters – to do or not to do
First off, check with the program you interviewed at if a residency thank you letter is acceptable. Most programs will neither encourage nor discourage them. However, some program coordinators will specifically advise against sending a thank you letter. The main point is that you should follow whatever instructions a program provides by way of post-interview communication!
This being said, let’s talk for a minute about residency thank you letter etiquette.
First of all let’s talk about timeline. If your residency program accepts thank you letters and you had every intention of sending one but time got away from you and now its been a week since your interview… it’s probably best to skip the note. The program is likely very busy interviewing other candidates and sending a thank you letter days after your interview may come across as an afterthought or an annoying unnecessary correspondence. If you’re going to send a residency thank you letter, send it immediately after the interview or at the very least, the same day.
Now, the specifics of a post interview thank you note:
- A brief email is sufficient, no need to send a hand-written card or residency thank you letter through snail mail
While the whole point of the residency interview is to differentiate yourself from other candidates, a card, letter, or sending flowers to the office (yes it has happened before!) as a thank you is overkill. Residency programs are infinitely more interested in how you presented yourself and what you said during the interview– rather than something friendly afterwards.
- Try to reference in your thank you note something specific from the interview, i.e. something that you felt connected you to the interviewer, or something of the program that was unique or of interest to you
If you’re going to take the time to write a residency thank you letter, make sure to write a thoughtful thank you note! Keep in mind that programs who accept thank you notes are probably flooded with generic, “thank you for the opportunity, I look forward to hearing from you” notes to the point where they might just end up straight in the trash.
- Make sure the residency thank you letter is personally addressed to each person you interviewed with; be sure to double, triple-check the spelling of the interviewer’s name in the email!
We repeat: SPELL YOUR THANK YOU NOTE RECIPIENT’S NAME RIGHT!!!! It’s extremely embarrassing to copy and paste the same residency thank you letter, then forget to change the name. However, if you follow the previous point, you should avoid this situation all together.
- Try to send your residency thank you letter to the program director and program coordinator, as well as any interviewers you found particularly helpful. Again, the sooner after your interview you write them, the better, as the experience will be fresh in your mind and it
At the end of the day, it is unlikely that a thank you note will dramatically change your outcome in the Match. Don’t overthink things, keep it simple, keep it personalized.
Here is an Example of a Post Residency Interview Thank You Note:
Dear [Program Director Name],
Following my interview with you today, I wanted to take the time to reach out and send my sincere thanks for considering me as a candidate for the [Residency Program Name] Residency Program. During my interview, I felt that I really connected with the Focus on Wellness initiative and I feel incredibly excited to be considered for participation in a program with such unique opportunities available to residents. It was so inspiring hearing about your experience in Malawi during your own residency training, and I think it is amazing that this program offers such valuable international electives.
Thank you again for taking the time to interview me and to walk me through the offerings and expectations of the [Residency Program Name]. I wish you a pleasant rest of your afternoon.
***Please see post about “Making your rank list” for further thoughts on post-interview communication, including answers to the common questions “Should I tell a program I’m ranking them #1?”, “How should I best do that?” and more!