Interview season for residency programs is coming up, and members of our Resident Recruitment Committee were kind enough to share their insight about preparing for the experience.
Read on for their tips, as well as an excerpt from an upcoming Q&A with Tim Martin, M.D., professor of anesthesiology and our associate chair for education.
Asad Bashir, MBBS, CA-3. Recruitment committee co-chair.
- Know your CV! Interviewers could be well versed in your area of research, and it is good to be prepared to comment on your scientific papers.
- Practice with a friend or record yourself on camera. You’ll pick up pointers such as eye contact, posture, and head position. Little things add up and can make a difference.
- Ask questions! The interview is as much a chance for you to get to know the program as it is for the program to judge whether you are a suitable candidate for them.
- Interact with the residents in the pre-interview socials/break-out rooms. They will be able to give you insights about the program and its work environment.
Blessing Ogbemudia, M.S., M.D., CA-3. Recruitment committee co-chair.
- Do your research on the program and know why it would be a good fit for you.
- Prepare a list of specific questions about the program.
- Practice answering common interview questions (i.e., tell me about yourself, why anesthesia, situational/behavioral questions). Practice out loud with friends and family, and utilize various mock interviews.
- It sounds cliché, but be yourself and let your personality shine!
Megan Koenig, M.D., CA-1. Recruitment committee member.
- Practice makes perfect. This process is all about you and getting to know you. There will always be questions that come out of left field and it’s okay to have to think on your feet every once in a while. However, it’s a calming feeling when you have control and are able to display the best version of yourself. Find common questions and have an idea of which experiences you want to discuss. Don’t be a robot and memorize every answer, but at least have a topic ready to go for common questions. If medical school faculty offer mock interviews, take this opportunity to get awkward answers out of the way.
- Do not let your environment slow you down. In this COVID-inspired virtual world, it’s more difficult to stand out just like it’s more difficult for applicants to differentiate between programs. Go in with all the confidence in the world. Have a friend log onto zoom to check out your background setup, lighting, and camera/sound quality. Do not let those things make you appear less prepared.
- Be yourself and find a program that suits your needs. Believe it or not, this is a mutual process. You are interviewing the programs just as they are interviewing you. Choose a program that fits you best and will be the ideal environment for you to thrive.
- Take advantage of any off-the-record time with residents. It is very difficult virtually to get a good feel of a program in a city you may have spent little time in. Take advantage of any off-the-record time to ask candid questions to the current residents. Are these the people you see yourself beside for four years? If you are on a 24-hour shift and things are going sideways, are these your teammates? Get to know the real side of the program.
Olesia Merinova, M.D., CA-2. Recruitment committee member.
- Actively participate in virtual open houses where you can learn more about the programs you are interested in and know more about who are they looking for as a part of the team. This can help you prepare to build a more specific and personalized experience with members of the program during the interview. Another useful resource is the series of interviews with program directors on the medical student component of the ASA website.
- It is time to learn more about yourself. Think about why you think you’re a good fit for the specialty in terms of your personal traits and why anesthesiology is a good fit for you. Work on understanding your strengths and weaknesses to make them the most beneficial and not contradictory to the specialty and the program.
- I found episode 177 of the ACCRAC Podcast to be a very beneficial resource. Dr. Wolpaw gives some insights regarding what PDs are valued the most in residents.
- Practice, practice, and practice. Find a mentor and partners to practice interviews with daily before the season to make all responses very natural but well-rounded and to the point.
Timothy W. Martin, M.D., MBA, FASA, associate chair for education and professor of anesthesiology.
Interviews since 2020 have been purely virtual, and all the indications are that they’ll continue that way. There’s a variety of rationale as well as pros and cons to live, in-person versus virtual interviews, but suffice to say, I think the virtual interviews are here to stay. The preparation for those is a little bit different.
First, make sure that you can draw upon some real-life experiences, whether it’s interesting patients or cases that you’ve been exposed to. Be prepared to discuss those and why they were important to you.
You have to have a pretty good handle on your own personal skills, your strengths and your weaknesses. What do you bring to the table? What makes you tick? What motivates you? What’s important to you? What’s your work ethic, your integrity, your sense of compassion and dedication to your patients? Those are all things that are likely to be touched on in the interviews.
Tim Martin, M.D.
A properly conducted interview doesn’t spend a lot of time rehashing material that’s already present in your physical or online application. It should be much more about providing you as a student the opportunity to let the selection committee know who you are, what matters to you, what are your priorities, and what makes you tick.
You’re also likely to encounter what we would refer to as behavioral-type questions, where you’re put in different hypothetical situations and asked how would you respond. These give the selection committee some ideas about experiences that you’ve had and how you’re likely to function once you become a resident here at UF.