What Should I Know About the Interview Trail?

Sheila M. Bigelow, DO


December 09, 2013

The Right Fit, in More Ways Than One

Trust Your Gut Feeling

I was really excited about getting an interview at one particular program that I visited. It was a well-known, respected program, and I felt lucky to have the chance to check it out in person. On my interview day, the program showed its strengths, everyone was welcoming, but something about it seemed "off." Only one resident came to the lunch. The interviews were much more aggressive than the typical pediatric residency interview. It didn't seem to be the right fit for me. I'm glad I listened to that voice inside, and despite this program looking amazing on paper, I decided not to rank the program. Perhaps if I had gone there, I would have ended up liking it. However, I don't know whether I would have liked it as much as I enjoyed the program where I did match and about which I had a good gut feeling from the beginning.

Keep this in mind when you are listening to other people talk about programs and their feelings about them. Just because another person in your class loved the place, it doesn't mean that you have to or that you are wrong for not liking it. It's really important to find the right fit; after all, you are going to be working really hard for the next 3-5 years at that program, so you had better like it!

Don't Always Eat Dessert

Interviews are filled with free lunches and dinners with appetizers, entrees, desserts, and sometimes even drinks. This usually takes place at the best-known restaurants in town because the programs want to impress you. On top of that, you are always traveling and are probably eating way more airport or rest-stop food than you have ever eaten before. Don't be afraid to say no to dessert. Alright, maybe have a bite or two, but I promise you that if you eat that whole bread pudding, you are going to regret it. Your suit has to fit you for several months, so don't fill it out too quickly.

Try to Enjoy It!

You are spending a lot of money zipping around the country making one of the biggest career decisions of your life. I get it; it's stressful. That is even more reason to sit back and enjoy the ride! You are going to cities that you may have never gone to otherwise. You are eating at restaurants on someone else's tab most of the time. You are meeting interesting people who love the specialty that you also love. You are spending days talking about how much you love your field and how badly you want that residency spot. Spend some time to be in the moment. You have worked really, really hard to get these interviews, to be a doctor, to be graduating from medical school in the near future. Don't let your future overpower your present. This is a great experience that is costing you a lot of time and money, so try to get some enjoyment out of it.


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