The interview process is a key step along the path to practising medicine in Canada, but it can be intimidating. To ease your mind, we interviewed someone who has been there and done that!
1. Interview far and wide:
Even if a program’s location doesn’t appeal to you – if you can afford it – go and see it! The more programs and hospitals you visit, the more successful you will be at finding the best fit for you. Quite often the program that is at the bottom of your list before you begin interviewing ends up much higher than you would ever expect at the end of the interview season.
2. Prepare – but, don’t over practice:
Make sure you have answers to the basic questions – like ‘what draws you to Pediatrics’, but don’t over practice. Having interviewed many prospective Medical Students, Residents and Fellows, it is obvious when somebody has memorized their answer. This is not what people are looking for.
Interviewers want a genuine answer to their questions so they can get to know you as a person. They want to know that you’ve thought about the specialty and will be a good fit for the team for the duration of the program. So, think about your answers – but, don’t memorize or over practice – be yourself!
3. Dress for the Day:
You don’t need to have a million dollar outfit – or a flashy one – but, you need one that fits well. You have a few hours to show the interviewers you can pay attention to the fine details (like following up on labs), execute things appropriately and care about the task at hand.
One of the best ways to instantly show that you are NOT someone like this is to show up in ill-fitting, inappropriately chosen outfit. For the women – if you’re going to wear nail polish – pick a conservative color (or go for a French Manicure) and DO NOT GO WITH CHIPPED NAIL POLISH. Ever. Period. You’re interviewing for what is conceivably the most important interview of your life – so dress for it.
4. Know something about your interviewers:
People love to talk about themselves. One of the best things you can do is ask about someone’s research (pick a specific question after you’ve read a bit about their interests) and follow up with real interest. If you have time to read the most recent paper someone has published – jot a question down in your notebook and be sure to ask. And ask with interest – people can tell if you are asking just to ask.
5. Hand written thank you notes:
There is nothing that shows you appreciated the opportunity to see a program more than a hand written note.
Everybody can quickly shoot an email off – especially if you copy and paste it. A hand written note takes time and effort. BUT – most importantly – pick a specific moment, point of discussion or something that the person who interviewed you said and mention it in the note. This shows that you paid attention during the interview and the discussion meant something to you. It DOES take time and it DOES take effort – but, it is worth it. Plane rides home are the best time to do it – it’s fresh in your mind and you’ll get it done in a timely fashion.
WHO should you send them to? Anyone who interviewed you.
BMWL M.D. PGY6 OBGYN/REI Fellow Interviewer