When I began the interview season, I had no idea what to expect. So I prepared carefully for my first interview, meticulously checking that I had everything I might need for travel to the interview and studying my answers to difficult questions that might arise.
It turns out that interviewing is not just a few meetings with faculty and residents; it’s an event. Besides the interviews themselves, the pre-interview dinner and the non-interview time in the hospital are also very important. The pre-interview dinner is touted by all programs as a casual affair where, ostensibly, applicants are given the opportunity to meet residents to learn about the program and the local city. However, at most programs, the applicants are actually evaluated by the residents at this informal gathering. Thus at these dinners, I was careful about what kinds of questions I asked and how I answered questions. Likewise, between interviews, there was more time to interact with residents. I used the time productively to learn about the program and its residents, knowing that each encounter was a potential mini-interview.
The interview invitations came at what seemed to be random times, with very little opportunity to select the best day for me from the few days offered. Luckily, many of my interviews were on the East Coast, so I spent a lot of time driving routes 89 and 95. Even still, it was stressful trying to schedule the interviews, having to allow time to drive from one location to the next, knowing I had to arrive in time for a pre-interview dinner. One day, I got stuck in a snowstorm and a drive that should have taken me an hour took four hours. Fortunately, that evening, the pre-interview dinner was canceled, so I didn’t miss out.
One of the best parts of the interview process for me was seeing new areas of the country and visiting friends in places far away. My first interview was in the Midwest, where I re-connected with a close friend from college. A month later, I went to the West Coast, where I visited with friends I had met while studying abroad in college.
Now that the interview season is over, I realize that the more I interviewed the more excited I became about the specialty I have chosen as my future career. Throughout the interview process I met leaders in the field and made connections with people who will be my future colleagues. Though it is terrifying not knowing where I will end up, I am eagerly awaiting Match Day to learn what is in store.