Key advice for medical students going on residency interviews


It’s that time of year again. Bright-eyed fourth years have begun wandering our hospital in uncomfortable shoes and fancy suits. They look equal parts nervous and excited, ready to embark on the insane adventure that is being an intern. But first, they have to survive interview season and Match Day:  a stressful, expensive, hoop-jumping endeavor that culminates with an envelope containing the result of eight years of hard work. Wouldn’t it be nice if they’d just put match results in a fortune cookie instead of an envelope? That’d be way better.

Something I mostly failed to realize as I waddled through interview season 50-weeks pregnant, though, was how stressful it is for the residents and staff who are on the other side. While admittedly less fear-inducing (and certainly less expensive) from this point of view, I didn’t realize how important it was for the person on the other side of the table to make sure they were finding excellent future residents. The people you work with determine a lot about how easy or difficult your day-to-day life in the hospital is.

Every time a new medical student walks into our hospital and shows interest in our program, a process of consideration begins. Will they be hard workers? Can they merge into this family we are already so comfortable with? Will they be a team-player? Are they sharp and motivated? Will they be easy to work with? Do their patients see them as trustworthy and reliable?

While this is nowhere near the level of stress or confusion we experienced during our personal interview process, each new season of interviews brings with it its own unique kind of intimidation and worry. Last year it ended with a huge sigh of relief after we matched an excellent set of interns. I fully anticipate this year will be the same.

But remember — when we chat with you at the social, interview you formally, visit throughout the day and email or call after the interview itself, we are assessing where you’d fit in, and I hope you are too. Your interview season shouldn’t just be going through the motions of answering endless “Tell me about yourself. Where are you from? What med school do you attend? Where else did you apply?” inquiries; it should be an opportunity to interview us back.

Talk to your residents and staff, find out what’s important to them, learn about their interactions and relationships, learn about their struggles and what makes them tick; that’s the only way you’ll truly figure out which program is a good fit for you. I truly believe most U.S. programs will give you adequate training; at the end of the day, you need to be at a program you will merge well with. So, use your socials and interviews wisely: Interview us back. Are we a good fit for you, too?

Danielle Jones is an obstetrics-gynecology resident. This article originally appeared in The American Resident Project.


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