The usual rules apply: everyone feel free to add to my list.
60 things I wish I had known before I started interviewing:
1. If you don’t have some sort of handheld device you can check your email on, either get one or don’t leave your computer for a few months
2. Answer all requests ASAP. That way you’re more likely to get your preferred dates.
3. If you’re rejecting interviews, be nice and do it right away so that some other kid can get the interview spot instead
4. There are some weekends that are very popular for certain specialties. For ortho and ENT, it’s the first weekend in January. You’ll probably get multiple offers for each day.
5. Whenever you get bored, check your email. If you’re on a rotation, this should be roughly once every 5 minutes
6. Wear a suit in a dark color. Creativity can suck it.
7. In the beginning, everyone walks around with their resume and their nice leather resume cover. After a while, people figure out that no one’s ever asked them for their resume and they stop bringing them
8. Don’t wear a black coat. Because everyone else does and then you can’t find yours in the closet at the end of the day
9. If a program tells you they are planning on ranking you highly, it means they say that to everyone
10. If you get offered an option of morning or afternoon interviews, go for the morning. By the time the afternoon rolls around, people are cranky and tired
11. If the first thing an interviewer says to you is “what questions do you have for me?” they are not particularly interested in you as a candidate
12. If you are scheduled for the last interview slot of the day, they are setting you up to fail. Because by that point, all your interviewers will just want to get the hell out of there and they will not remember a thing you said
13. Not too many people have looked through your application ahead of time. But a lot will do it as you’re talking to make it look like they did.
14. At open interviews you get to see your letters of rec
15. When you have 8 20-minute interviews back-to-back, you feel like you’re taking Step 2 CS all over again. Lather, rinse, repeat.
16. Go to the bathroom before the interviews start. Because crossing and uncrossing your legs is unprofessional.
17. Scrubs make awesome traveling clothes. They’re comfortable, they double as pajamas, and if you’re really in a pinch, you can write on them instead of writing on your hands
18. Don’t check luggage if you’re flying. It’s expensive and you’ll spend the whole trip worrying that you’re going to lose it and you’ll have to find a new outfit at wal-mart
19. Write down all important phone numbers and directions and keep them on your person
20. There are very few ways to save money. Especially when you have to fly from Random City A to Random City B overnight.
21. I was once late to an interview because I couldn’t figure out how to get in the front door. Just saying.
22. A lot of times it’s easier to rent a car, especially when the pre-interview dinner is far from the hospital
23. If you do rent a car, rent a GPS as well. Street signs are hard to read at 6AM and $50/day buys you some mental peace
24. You do not always get dinner at the meet and greet the night before the interview. Plan accordingly
25. Don’t drink too much. Some people thinks it makes them look more fun and spontaneous if they get drunk. They are delusional. It just makes you look stupid.
26. Pre-interview dinners are painful. You have to stand around and make small talk with everyone
27. Missing the pre-interview dinner is not the worst thing in the world, but it’s in your best interest to go to them
28. Since you run into the same people over and over again, you probably want to be nice
29. Everyone you interview with will ask you if you have any questions. Guaranteed. And you better have questions.
30. But no one will notice if you ask the same 3 questions over and over again.
31. The most important questions are the ones you can’t ask. Like “what time do you get to leave at the end of the day,” “do you think I fit in here,” and “where is the bathroom?”
32. Interviewing at your home program is weird and awkward, but at least they don’t expect you to ask questions
33. Sometimes you just don’t click with an interviewer. It’s OK, usually you have at least 5 of them so you can screw one up.
34. Despite the fact that programs are not actually supposed to ask you where else you’re interviewing at, you will get asked that more often than why you want to go into your particular specialty
35. You are significantly more relaxed by the end since you’ve answered pretty much every question known to man by that point. Including “what’s the one word that would describe you?” and “tell us about a hardship you faced during medical school.”
36. That being said, by the end you’re tempted to start cancelling interviews because you’re so damn tired of it all
37. There is no consensus on whether it’s better to interview early or late at programs you’re really interested in. Do what works for your schedule.
38. You spend a lot of time praying that your flight won’t get delayed
39. You wonder why this is all done during the winter, when flights have a very high chance of getting delayed
40. It’s OK to go on an interview just because you need an excuse to visit the city. Jacksonville, FL in December was awesome.
41. It’s generally easier to pull all this off if you’re not taking classes that month.
42. Packing your workout clothes is generally a waste of space since you don’t have too much free time
43. A lot of your time during interviews is spent waiting for someone to interview you. Sometimes you have to sit there from 9 to 5 so you can do 3 15-minute interviews.
44. All hospitals look the same
45. If the residents say they regret going there, that’s kinda a red flag
46. Take notes after every interview. Because after 4 or 5, all programs sound the same
47. Salaries and benefits are pretty much the same everywhere. Cost of living, however, is not.
48. If you can’t remember interviewing at a program, you might not want to rank them too highly
49. Have a nice, strong handshake.
50. Don’t get your heart set on any once place. It’s a recipe for disappointment since you don’t have all that much control over the subject.
51. If you realize you don’t want to live in a certain city, you don’t have to go to the interview. Better yet, don’t apply.
52. If a program is on probation, it is very important to find out exactly why.
53. There’s 2 or 3 really annoying applicants who you keep on running into and you say some prayers you don’t match at the same place as them
54. If you are a girl, you will be mistaken for someone’s wife on a regular basis
55. Everyone wants to ask you about your marital status. But since they’re not technically allowed, it’s up to you to volunteer the information
56. Feel free to advertise the stuff that makes you unique
57. A lot of interviews start before 7AM, particularly in the surgical specialties
58. Since you have to travel a lot, skimp on sleep, and shake a ton of hands, you’ll probably get a cold at some point in all this
59. Smile. A lot.
60. Good luck!
My best wishes to everyone and have a great night!