Following Up After Your Residency Interview
Five Things to Do After Visiting a Residency Program
Struggling to decipher post-interview cues? Many students aren't sure how to navigate their communication with programs after an interview. You're unlikely to go wrong if you keep your approach professional and familiarize yourself with the National Residency Matching Program commuincation code of conduct(www.nrmp.org).
Here are five tips that will help you set yourself apart and make the best decisions about where you train after medical school.
#1: Write down your impressions immediately after the interview.
- Update your checklists and notes right away. Develop your own process for interview follow-up and be consistent.
- Complete all materials in ERAS® and the NRMP, and have current contact information available including address, phone, and email.
- Be careful about sharing your rank list with others including classmates, residents, medical school and residency faculty. You never know which residency program you will end up matching to.
#2: Send thank you notes to those who met with you.
- Recognize their hospitality and reaffirm your interest in the program.
- Send your notes within a timely manner. Within two weeks of your visit is a good goal.
- Be authentic in your communication, whether it is email, handwritten notes, or a phone call. Personalize your message and build on the conversation you had in the interview.
- Don't misinterpret post-interview follow-up from programs as a commitment from them. Determine your rank list based on your preferences.
#3: Ask any questions that were overlooked during your visit.
- In reviewing your notes, you may discover several vital questions that you did not have the opportunity to ask during the interview. It is perfectly acceptable to call back for more information, particularly if one of your interviewers — frequently a resident — has invited you to contact him or her for more information.
- Don't send multiple generic emails to the same program director or residency faculty. Make follow-up contact personal, and ask direct questions about the program.
- Be aware that program directors and residency faculty are required NOT to solicit post-interview communication from applicants.
#4: Take a second look -- if you're invited, and if it will help.
- Some programs will offer you the opportunity for a “second look.” Take advantage of the invitations if you think a second look would help.
- In some cases, programs will interpret your interest in a second look as an indication of your enthusiasm for the program. In other cases, a program may discourage second looks and interpret it as an insult if you request one. Try to get some insight into this issue when you talk to the residents in the program.
- Only make a second visit if you're invited. Residency programs are not prepared for univited guests.
#5: Be professional.
- Most medical students strive to remain professional during and after the residency interview process, but many struggle with deciphering the rules for post-match communication versus the standard etiquette associated with interviews. Knowing the NRMP rules and developing your own standards will help build your skills in professionalism.
- Be aware of your social media footprint. Adjust your behavior or privacy settings as needed during interview season.
- Do not post positive or negative comments on your Facebook or Twitter accounts regarding your interviews.
Assessing and Ranking Residency Programs
After you've completed your interviews, the lion’s share of your work is done. Your only remaining task is to assess the information you have collected and use it to establish your rank order list. You may decide, after completing your scheduled interviews, that you still haven’t found what you wanted and think that you’d better look at some more programs. Don’t be too frustrated if you feel you have to do this. It’s better to put in a little extra legwork now than to have lingering doubts later.
Take time to decide how to rank the programs you visited. You may want to put your notes aside for a while to give yourself some time to air your thoughts. Talk through your reasoning with advisors, friends, and family, but remember that the final decision is yours. Use the tools in Strolling through the Match(84 page PDF) to help organize your priorities.
Updated for 2018: Strolling Through the Match
This practical resource from the AAFP is a must-read for students interested in a career in family medicine. Get your copy now for updated information on navigating the Match process, access to helpful timelines, and tips on applying to and ranking programs.