The virtual residency interview process is relatively new for medical students. It can be daunting for applicants and interviewers alike, but other fields have held virtual interviews for years. Let us draw inspiration from our friends outside of medicine and their experiences to help us through this process.
I've gone to a few weddings in the past few years. Each time I put a lot of effort into picking out a very thoughtful gift, carefully wrapped it to look like a storefront display, and dropped it off with pride at the gift table. Then I watched as two, four, six months went by without a single thank you note! And even worse: when I finally did get that thank you note, it was so generic that I'm not sure the wonderful couple even knew which carefully wrapped gift I had given them. For all I know, they may have even hired someone to unwrap their gifts and generate a thank you note. Ugh! I was so put off by those few experiences that I rarely put in the same effort to pick out the perfect gift and card anymore.
In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, medical school admissions have had to make tons of unprecedented changes, including the shortened MCAT, a delayed cycle, and of course, the virtual interview.
In the Med School Tutors ERAS 2021 Summit, we covered a lot of ground, and in particular, we focused on how you can set yourself up for success on your virtual interviews from a technical standpoint.
If you missed the summit, or are looking for a recap, you're in luck! We've summarized some of the major points from the Virtual Interview segment and also have included the summit recording for you (skip ahead to 01:22:00 for the Virtual Interview portion).
Let's dive in!
So, you’ve gone for your interview at a residency program. Now what?
Many applicants struggle with when to contact a program after the interview day. Should you send a thank you to every program? Only the ones you are ranking highly? Should you send a hand-written letter or an email? While there are no clear rules for post-interview contact, there are some basic guidelines that you should follow.
Finally, residency interview season has come to a close. Your suit can get packed away in that garment bag for another 18 months, as scrubs (and the dress clothes that you don’t mind getting blood- and sputum-covered) move back to the front of your wardrobe. You can relax, put your feet up, and hopefully cruise through the rest of fourth-year while you rack your brain trying to get your rank list in order.
When it comes to preparing for medical residency interviews, there is one question every med student asks:
Interviewing candidates for residency positions is undoubtedly a difficult job for interviewers and program directors alike. Residency programs look at a relatively homogenous stack of applications, with precious little time to devote to each. To make matters more difficult, many medical schools have moved away from traditional grading system and rankings, and residency programs are left to decide how Medical School A's "highest honors" compares to Medical School B's "high honors." Furthermore, students are oftentimes asked to "draft" their own letters of recommendation that letter writers will "edit" and sign, or standardized letters are used which downplay the narrative aspect of student-attending interactions.