Scheduling Residency Interviews
Scheduling Tips for Medical Residency Interviews
As much as we would like our medical education to consist of simply knowing the right information and studying anatomy, physiology, and techniques, there are a lot of things we also have to do as medical students before we can ever get to simple patient care.
Part of that is making the transition from medical school to a residency program. That means jumping through the bureaucratic red tape of admissions, interviews, and selection.
So, in addition to knowing how to answer types of questions about anatomy, you also need to prepare personal statements, answer specific questions about your qualifications, and work through mock interviews — all before you make a residency match.
You’ve submitted your ERAS application, all of your LoRs are in, your school uploaded your MSPE, and now here you are, waiting for the “wave” of residency interview invites that you hope is going to hit you. For some, there may indeed be a tsunami of invites; for others, however, interviews may be a bit more scarce. Whichever boat you ultimately find yourself in, it’s important to know what to do when you start receiving your invites.
Here’s a List of Medical Residency Interview Tips
For starters, it may be helpful to have an idea of when certain programs will have their interview days–especially programs you either hope or know you are going to interview at (like your home institution). If you know the best time to schedule residency interviews and if you are invited to a program that has multiple interview dates, you can try to select your date strategically.
To track interview date options for scheduling interviews for residency, you can 1) go on residency program websites to see if they publish interview dates and 2) look for forums about your specialty on Student Doctor Network or Google Spreadsheets for the specific program. These are put together by students with information about interview dates for the current application cycle and/or past application cycles.
That being said, keep in mind that just because you expect to interview somewhere (you have a LoR from a doctor at that institution, you did research, or an away rotation there), this does NOT guarantee you an interview invite. Oftentimes these factors can certainly help, but nothing can be guaranteed, so don’t get your hopes set on a specific program or make travel plans made before you receive an official invitation.
As you receive your invites, it is helpful to know that programs use a variety of different interview booking platforms – some will use ERAS, others will have you email or call with preferences, others will use interview booking websites such as the Thalamus residency interview scheduling system, or Interview Broker. It is not a streamlined process.
RSVP to the interview invitation ASAP to ensure you get the interview date you want. Some applicants find it helpful to create a gmail account specific to ERAS so that notifications to that account are clearly interview invitations and won’t be overlooked or /end up in spam. Then you can have an email for that specific email account pushed to your phone or tablet and set notifications so that you will be aware when you receive an invite.
Additionally, you can ask a trusted friend or family member to monitor your email for invites and reply promptly for when you are not available.
If you received an interview offer and are not going to go, let the program or program director know ASAP so that they can offer the date to someone else. It is common courtesy to your fellow applicants. In general, during the residency interview process, it is considered unprofessional to cancel an interview less than 2 weeks in advance. That’s true whether it is an online interview or in-person.
If you need to swap interview days, either reach out to the program or check the online forums (usually organized in Google Sheets where you can see if another applicant will want to swap with you).
Scheduling With Your Most Desirable Residency Program
Lastly, consider scheduling your most desirable program interviews later in the cycle so that you can use the initial ones as a “warm-up”. Similarly, if you are someone who has received a lot of interview invites and don’t think you will go on all of them, it can be helpful to schedule interviews at programs you are less interested in towards the end of the interview season so that you are able to cancel them with enough prior notice to the program.
The amount of interviews you ultimately schedule and attend depends on the applicant and specialty, and is something you can talk about more specifically with a mentor or school advisor.
If you need help to identify a potential residency program, our residency advisors are highly experienced in application and interview preparation. Contact us with your residency interview scheduling inquiries.