Author: Chris Ryba, MS4
Medical Student Council President
Originally Published: Common Sense March/April 2018
As my interview season comes to a close and Match Day now awaits on the horizon, I thought now would be the perfect opportunity to list the top ten things I have learned along the interview trail:
1. The Interview Trail is TIRING
Long days, long travel times across the country, early morning starts, and the constant goal of always trying to look your best during months of interviews can take a major toll on the body.
My advice: Rest up and keep a good sleep schedule, maintain a healthy lifestyle, pack meals for road trips, and take advantage of hotel perks.
2. The Interview Trail COSTS a pretty penny
The applications themselves aren’t cheap. Now factor in flights, hotels, meals, rental cars, suit cleanings, and interview clothes the bill continues to grow.
My advice: SAVE! Being prepared is number one. Other tips are to bank on credit card perks and frequent flyer miles. Using travel sites to try your best to group hotel, flights, and cars all in one became my best friend this fall. Plan your interviews out of state all near each other to avoid multiple trips. Reach out to as many friends as you can remember to couch surf.
3. The Interview Trail is DAUNTING
Many years of hard work is finally coming to fruition. All that stands in your way may be a twenty-minute interview with several different program staff and current residents. It’s a scary notion when looking at it simplistically like that and an even scarier moment when you are actually in it.
My advice: Prepare! Research the program. Know the names and faces of the chief residents. Practice standard interview questions. Always keep a bank of stories for basic questions in your back pockets.
4. The Interview Trail can be OVERWHELMING
Tons of interviews … Tons of cities … Hundreds of faces and names, and now you have to rank where you want to train the next few years.
My advice: Keep a running list. I choose a Google Doc where I kept track of the general program info that I found important and then fun facts or program perks maybe not seen on a website. I would jot down quotes and facts on the trip home and upload it onto the computer. Then I could actively adjust my rank list as I went.
5. The Interview Trail is HUMBLING
You will have a bad interview. You will come across another applicant seemingly way more qualified. You will feel as if there’s no way you will attend that program. And that’s TOTALLY okay. The beauty of the interview process is it’s a chance to see where YOU fit. You don’t necessarily have to be the best candidate ever, you just need to be a good fit.
6. The Interview Trail allows you to TRAVEL
I applied to and interviewed in locations I never had thought to travel to before and some of those places offered the most amazing experiences I have ever had.
My advice: Take that interview out of town. Who knows if you may fall in love with a city you never thought you would have.
7. The Interview Trail is FUN (surprisingly)
I had been told this time and time again but it wasn’t until I was in the moment that I realized how right people were. I was truly amazed at how fun the resident socials were and how much I enjoyed traveling for the interviews. It was a nice change of pace after months of applications and away rotations.
My advice: Nothing really to say here other than to see for yourself.
8. The Interview Trail is NOT AS BAD AS YOU MIGHT THINK
Sure, there’s the stress of wanting to be the best you can be, but most programs already know and like a ton about you if they are offering you the interview so just be yourself. You will be far less stressed if you think of it this way.
My advice: Be yourself!
9. The Interview Trail is to REALLY SHOW WHO YOU ARE
The programs have read everything about you on your application and in your letters and the jury is still out on the SVI so this is your major opportunity to really sell who you are as a person off the paper. Both parties are trying to see if you will be a good fit for the program and if the program is a good fit for you. Use this to your advantage but do not overdo it and be somebody you are not. Believe me, they will know.
My advice: Be your best self but in the end, make sure to just be yourself!
10. The Interview Trail is a CULMINATION OF YEARS AND YEARS OF HARD WORK
This isn’t just medical school work, this is all of the experiences you have ever had that have turned you into who you are today.
My advice: ENJOY IT! You made it!