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In my last post, I shared the first two of my five pieces of advice for residency interview season. Without further ado, let’s dive into my final three tips!

Order the chicken, and ONE drink...

… That is, if the hosts are ordering drinks. This is my way of saying that the candidate dinner from the night before can be a disaster, incredibly fun or somewhere in between. I could write a whole page about etiquette for the candidate dinner, but chances are you know not to bring up religion, politics or anything else polarizing.

One of the most difficult things – and one nobody ever talks about – is what to order when you are at dinner.  Usually the hosts will tell you, “order whatever you want!” Don’t. I didn’t think I’d have to make a point of this, but I’ve seen candidates order filet mignon. FILET MIGNON.

Nobody is supposed to judge you for what you eat, but lets face it, they do. When I say “order the chicken,” I mean go middle of the road. Don’t get too extravagant. Don’t order dessert unless other people do. Most importantly, only get a drink if one of the hosts is getting one... and don’t order anything hardcore like vodka on the rocks. Even if the host gets smashed, you need to stick to one drink. Remember, everything you do is fair game for excessive and sometimes unreasonable scrutiny. Don’t blow it because of a silly dinner.

You aren’t going to click with everyone, and that’s OK!

Do you get along with everyone in your class? What about everyone at the hospital?  If yes, then skip to #5.  If you’re like most students, you likely clash with others from time to time. This is no different in a residency program.

There will inevitably be a few people who don’t quite click with you, be they other candidates, current residents, or even faculty members.  Just remember, keep it simple, keep it neutral, and never engage. If you’re caught in an awkward situation that seems impossible to remedy, just take a deep breath and try to reset the moment. Switching your attention to speaking with someone else (in a one-on-one scenario) or lightening the mood will often do the trick. Always remember that one bad interaction does not sink a ship… unless it’s with the program director!

Don’t talk about “your number” with med school friends.

While every other point is intended to give you a leg up in the match, this last piece of advice is intended to keep you grounded and remember that life is not all about scoring high and gaining the edge on everyone. Don’t forget that you are a human!

Part of being a human is not alienating your friends. There is nothing more frustrating during this time than a friend who tells you every interview they’re getting and how many total they have now. You never know which of your friends haven’t gotten ANY interviews. While it’s not your fault, why rub it in? Why make them resent you? If someone outright asks you, I would usually laugh it off and say something like, “more than 2, less than 50”.  Answering that question outright (or asking) never leads anywhere except with someone feeling defensive and inadequate. These are your friends – what does it matter?

Well, there you have it. While each piece of advice I’ve given is bit random and a bit obvious, chances are you probably haven’t thought through them before. So let us think of them for you, so you can save your brain for interviews!  

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Leila Javidi

Leila Javidi

Leila Javidi, MD, MPH is a graduate of Saint George's University, a Family Medicine resident at Mount Carmel Health System, and a certified consultant with MST Consulting. Although she had never before considered herself a “standardized test guru,” over the course of her first few years of medical school she developed a fool-proof study style — and crushed her exams. She loves to teach and she prides herself on her ability to motivate students to achieve their maximum potential. She is most known by her students for her sense of humor, her ‘pep talks’ and her ‘no-excuses’ study mentality.
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