Interviewing is a two-way street that calls for thoughtful preparation. Unlike most medical school interviews, residency interviews are not only a time for the program to evaluate you, but also a chance for you to evaluate them. Going into the interview season well prepared will help you better assess programs and think about your rank list.
The interview is also the most important factor (besides match violations) program directors use when they rank an applicant. Program directors typically review application materials and then offer an interview opportunity to those who seem to be good candidates for their programs. This is a 3-year decision; keep this in mind while working through the options. Lifestyle and work/life balance are important to physician wellness, even during training.
Research the Program
Prior to going on an interview, research the program and its curricula and think about if it will meet your individual needs. If not, it may not be worth the expense and time to prepare to travel to the interview. The important variables will be different for everyone, but consider the following:
- Size of the program
- Geography/proximity to family
- Competitiveness of matching into the program
- Characteristics, such as diversity of residents/faculty and program track options, that make the program unique
- Areas where the program excels
Visit the NRMP MATCH Data and Reports site for more about why students applied to specific pediatric residency programs.
Tips and Advice for a Smooth Interview
- Remember to dress and act professionally on your interview trip. There isn’t a strict dress code; however, business attire is suggested for the interview.
- Every contact with anyone at the program (coordinators, office staff, house staff) should be professional and respectful.
- Stay away from issues of salary, number of call nights, and perks, including book funds (these can easily be found out from the residents or the website).
- Avoid questions about any conflicts, problems and politics at any level (unless it directly impacts education).
- Steer clear of comparing or criticizing any program or institution – the pediatric graduate education world is smaller than it seems.
- There is often an interview dinner or informal reception the night before the interview. Make every effort to attend these functions as it is a good way to get to know program leadership and the residents in a more casual, relaxed environment. Be yourself but act appropriately!
- Send a hand-written thank you note or email after your interview and remember to acknowledge the residency coordinator for their efforts in arranging your interview.
Work closely with your clerkship director and other mentors to develop a list of questions to ensure the interview goes smoothly. Below are some ideas for questions to ask the faculty and residents that will be present in the interview. Note that it is ok to ask the same question of multiple interviewers but be sure to have questions for each person.
American Academy of Pediatrics