Preparing for the Interview
- Most programs preparing for the NRMP schedule interviews from September through January. You will hear some differences of opinion as to whether it is better to be one of the first candidates a program sees, in the middle, or one of the last. Since no evidence demonstrates that timing makes a difference in how the program ranks a candidate, and you don't have complete control over when you interview, try not to be anxious about it.
- There is general agreement, however, that you should schedule the interview for your most highly valued program after you have had some experience with one or two interviews in other programs.
- Call to confirm your appointment about a week before your scheduled interview. This will give you an opportunity to reconfirm the place and time of your meeting, who you are going to meet first and perhaps some other details such as where you should park, etc.
- Generally speaking, an interview will take one full day, though you may be invited to meet with one or more residents and faculty for dinner the night before. If your travel schedule permits, allow some time to tour the community outside the program and/or spend some informal time with residents or faculty.
- If your spouse or significant other will be accompanying you on your interviews, you may want to schedule additional time to assess other aspects of the program and community important to him/her. In general, spouses and significant others are welcome to participate in the interview process, but you should clarify this with the program ahead of time so that the schedule can be structured to accommodate this. Some programs specifically provide for the participation of spouses and significant others with organized tours of the community, etc.
- Just before the interview, take the time, again, to review the information you've received from the program and any material you may have gathered from other sources. Write down the "facts" that you want to double-check as well as any initial impressions you may have formed based on the written material. Pay special attention to the names and positions of people you are likely to meet.
- You can actually find out a fair amount about the surrounding community before you arrive by checking some resources in your current location such as your local library. Newspapers from that community can tell you about job opportunities for your spouse/significant other, cultural offerings, the housing market, community problems, etc. Local telephone directories may give you a better idea of available support services. Check your local bookstore, travel agency, and auto club for guidebooks on the area. Community Web sites also provide a wealth of information.
- Remind yourself of the specific questions you had about this program and write them down in a convenient place so that you will be sure to ask them. It's a good idea to have some interesting questions prepared ahead of time to let your interviewers know that you've really given some thought to the qualities of their particular program. Interviewers get tired of answering the same questions, just as you do, so try to think of a few that reflect your own special interest.
- You may have already formulated a list of standard questions that you want to ask every program for comparison, or you may have developed a checklist of program characteristics to fill out in each interview. Appended to this section are two examples of residency interview checklists, one developed by Dr. J. Mack Worthington of the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Tennessee and the other developed by Dr. Joseph Stokes, Jr., who was, at the time, a resident at the Barberton Citizens Hospital Family Practice Residency Program in Barberton, Ohio. Although the latter checklist was developed specifically for the evaluation of family medicine residencies, its structure and most of its content is applicable for use in other types of residencies.
- Keep in mind your goals for the interview in order to establish the right frame of mind. Again, you want to project a positive, confident, and enthusiastic demeanor without being overbearing or insincere.
- If you keep in mind that the interviewers have their own agenda to fulfill, you won't be dismayed or intimidated by the tougher questions that try to find out more about you. In fact, if you've thought about what the interviewers are trying to get out of the interview, you will have already anticipated their questions and have a well-thought out answer ready.
- Try to be open and honest. It's okay to be nervous, but don't let your nervousness hide your personality.
The Fine Points
These are the things that go under the heading of "common sense" but perhaps bear reiteration.
- In terms of appearance, the general advice is to be neat and comfortable. Use your own judgment as to whether an expensive suit would add to your confidence level or compete with your personality.
- Be on time; better yet, be early. Allow yourself time for finding a parking space, getting to know your surroundings, catching your breath and arriving in place before the appointed hour.
- Before you leave the house, make sure you have everything you need for the interview such as your notes, paper and pen, PDA and an extra copy of your credentials.
Strolling Through the Match
This publication was developed to help you make appropriate decisions about your professional career and to learn more about the process of getting post-graduate training.
Download the document(80 page PDF) or order a free copy through the AAFP catalog.