The Advice Nobody Gave You for Residency Interview Season: Part I

  • /Reviewed by: Amy Rontal, MD
  • When I look back on starting the ERAS process a year ago, I remember all the things I worried about  and all the things I should’ve worried about, but didn’t bother to consider. Now that I’m on the other side, it’s only fair that I share with all you eager ERAS-ers the five points of advice I wish I had going into interview season.

    Make phone calls but don’t be annoying.

    I remember refreshing my email every 10 minutes waiting for ERAS notifications and how thrilling it was to get an interview invitation. I also remember the sinking feeling of another day, week or month going by with radio silence. It’s so tempting to sit around and wait for these programs to contact you — and then to just accept that you aren’t going to get that interview.  

    If this describes you, I have one thing to say: WHAT ARE YOU DOING?! This is literally one of the biggest moments in your career. If you don’t take control of it, you’ll regret it for the rest of your life.

    I know that the following runs contrary to some opinions (even from other contributors on this blog), but hear me out. It takes time for program administrators to sift through applications, and if you call them, guess what? Your application goes to the top of the pile for review. By calling, you’ll stand out as someone putting in the extra effort to reach out. Feel free to leave a voicemail, as administrators can get very busy.  If you do, always make sure to leave your AAMC ID on the message.

    You should call the program no earlier than a month after submitting your ERAS. Call once, then wait another month before checking in again.  You never know, you might catch them on a day that they’re looking for someone to fill a spot. This exact scenario happened to me with my #1 interview spot — and I got the interview!

    It’s OK to shut up sometimes.

    One of my interviewers made the following observation: “Leila, you really like to fill the space.'” What he meant was that whenever there was a silence, I’d get nervous and well, fill it by talking. He was right! I felt the need to keep the conversation moving at all times, even when we were sitting alone as applicants.

    At first his words made me very insecure and I sort of resented him. But after that interview, I learned when to tone it down and let others take the floor. I even noticed other students who liked to “fill the space” — and often thought about how obnoxious it was.  

    That being said, you shouldn’t be a shrinking violet on the interview trail. If you’re an outgoing person, you should definitely showcase it. But you don’t have to answer every question, comment on everything, or feel pressured to keep the conversation moving along. This applies mostly to the time between interviews; while you’re in the interview room, it’s your job to sell yourself. Staying quiet and not keeping the conversation moving along is awkward and can be off-putting to people.

    I know you M4s in the audience only have so much time to read this lovely blog — sub-Is are time-consuming! — so let’s stop here. 

    Click here to check out Part 2!