Thoughts from the interview trail
Finally the interview season is wrapping up. Here are 5 points to emphasize before embarking on the path to the rank list.
1) Interviews are more exhausting than you might originally think.
It takes a lot of work to put on your "game face" for 36 hours, to make sure you don't say anything inappropriate and to think of insightful questions to ask so you don't look disinterested. Be careful when planning your travel schedule to include time for rest, as a tired interviewee comes across as boring and unenergetic, traits which stellar board scores can never make up for.
2) If you don't enjoy the residents or attendings at an institution, perhaps it just isn't a good fit.
Don't be too hard on yourself. If you're miserable at work, you will not be academically productive and your patients will not get the care they deserve. The best team is a team with excellent work relationships, and though in your head a program might be your top choice, perhaps you will be better off in the long run somewhere else.
3) There's no reason to be nervous.
Most interviewers these days just want to get to know you. Occasionally one will put you on the spot or ask tricky questions. You can prepare for the typical interview questions by pondering them ahead of time (things like "what was your biggest failure?"). The unexpected interview questions like, "what is the therapy for recurrent acute myeloid leukemia?" are likely questions other students would struggle with too, so just be humble and move on rather than letting one question destroy the whole conversation.
4) Some interviewers are quiet and difficult to talk to.
Perhaps this is the way they are typically or perhaps you just don't have much in common with the interviewer. A solid strategy at this point is to take control of the conversation by bringing up topics that augment your applications, either academic or personal. Perhaps if you've done a lot of travel, you might ask "are there opportunities for residents to do international electives?". Or if you're strong in research, perhaps you could ask, "what are the research opportunities like here?".
5) Be confident. You might think you don't deserve the interview or are concerned about matching, but they brought you in for a reason.
If you're at the interview, you're qualified to do the work. At this point they want to see if you will be a good fit for their program, a program which they have worked hard to build and which they have big dreams for the future. If you're a part of that future, they will be interested regardless of your board score.
One excellent and very detailed book to check out is, "The Successful Match: 200 Rules to Succed in the Residency Match" by Dr. Katta and Dr. Desai.
Best of luck to everyone going through the match. Please feel free to comment, as discussion makes us all better.