2016 Interview Tips

If you’re a regular reader, you’ll notice that you haven’t heard from me in a few weeks. I want to apologize for that – as it turns out, the beginning of the academic year is busy for everyone, even when you’re not an intern anymore! I had quite a few deadlines that I had to take care of, particularly with regard to research, so that had to come first. And now, enough excuses! Let’s move on to things that you care about.

As the deadline to submit to ERAS approaches, I thought I would share some tips and insights for the beginning of the application and interview season. These are going to be most applicable to people applying in OB/GYN in the civilian (main) match. Are you ready? Here goes:

Tip #1: Apply broadly

Relatively speaking, applications are cheap. They are a whole lot cheaper than not matching. So, seriously, apply to a lot of programs. Apply to a few programs that you think are a stretch, and apply to a few programs that you think are a safe bet. Remember that the match is different every year – depending on who else is applying this year, your application may be more or less competitive than you thought. You don’t want to find that out when it’s mid-October and you only have 5 interviews, because it will be too late to catch up. I applied to about 35 programs, and I would encourage most people to apply to a similar number, if you are applying in OB.

Tip #2: Apply early

When I was a 4th year medical student, I got one particular piece of very bad advice. People told me that the ERAS site would definitely crash on the day applications opened, so not to bother trying to submit my application that day. Wait a few days or a week, save myself the stress, and submit then. As an intern, I found out that many programs give out all of their interview slots in the first few days after applications become available to programs. By waiting a week, I probably locked myself out of a couple of my “reach” programs, that had already given out their interview slots. I’m not saying that you have to hit submit the minute applications open, but I would definitely get your stuff in within the first day, just to be safe.

Tip #3: Accept a lot of interviews up front

Many programs will send out their interviews early, in the first few days after applications are released. Other programs might wait a week or two, and you may get in somewhere off the waitlist. I would recommend accepting the first 12-18 interviews that you are offered. I would plan to go on about 15 interviews. Once you have 15 scheduled, you can start getting picky, and cancel some that you don’t really want to go on. Also keep in mind that, as the season winds down, people tend to start canceling, which means you may get invited to interview at a program that had placed you on the waitlist initially.

Tip #4: Be realistic

When I was a student, I heard a lot of people say that once you get to the interview, the rest of your application doesn’t matter anymore. To some degree, I think that’s true – as long as you are in the middle of the pack. When my program sat down to “rack and stack” applicants last year, we mostly talked about interview answers, behavior at the dinner, etc. But if there were any potential red flags (or anything really awesome) in an application, you had better believe that those things came up. If someone had scores that were much higher or lower than the other applicants, that was discussed. If a personal statement was really good or really bad, that came up as well. So just because you got an interview doesn’t mean it’s a completely level field.

Alright, I feel like that’s enough for one day. As always, please post your questions and comments below!

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