The Interview Process

What does it mean when you are called in for an interview?

When you are called for an interview, this means that on paper you have good/acceptable training, experience, references, etc. An interview is meant to determine whether you will be a good fit for the organization or program.Doctor talking to a patient

What key questions is your interviewer hoping you will uncover during your interview?

Typically your interviewer is looking to gather some key information about you – specifically:

  • Are you prepared?
  • Are you knowledgeable?
  • Are you professional?

Additionally, your interviewer will ask questions to uncover:

  • Whether you are you able to communicate effectively?
  • What is important to you?
  • Why are you applying to a specific program? Or a specific job?

What are the first steps you should take in preparing for an interview?

To prepare for your interview, there are a number of steps you should take:

  1. Self-Reflection – Make sure you are able to speak intelligibly about yourself and your goals. Specifically: What are your personal goals? And what are your academic/career goals?
  2. Research the Institution / ProgramDepending on whether you are interviewing for fellowship or a job, be sure to review information about the hospital or practice website in advance. For fellowship interviews, try to pull information about key programs, types of cases, demographics. Finally, be able to clearly articulate why you want to be part of the program
  3. Research the People – This begins with making sure you understand whom you are meeting with during your interview. Be sure to request a schedule or itinerary in advance of your meeting. If relevant, try to research their medical interests using Google, PubMed, or other resources.
  4. Prepare a List of Questions - Aim to prepare at least three questions to pose to your prospective employer or fellowship director. Avoid preparing only questions about salary/compensation… consider making compensation concerns the last of your questions. You may want to delay discussion on salary altogether until it is clear that the position is a good match for you.
  5. Packing List – If you will be traveling for your interview, make sure you pack all the necessities - identification, itinerary, tickets, directions, professional attire, copies of your CV, pen, and your notes.

Would you provide an overview of the various interview formats we may encounter?

There are a variety of different interview formats, including:

  • One-on-One Meetings
  • Group Interviews
  • Meetings with Current Fellows / Staff
  • Breakfast/Lunch/Dinner Interviews - Be sure to attend any invitation to go to lunch or dinner. And be sure to think of the meal as part of the interview. This means dress appropriately and order appropriately (don't overindulge with alcohol or your meal). Stay professional and classy!
  • Didactic SessionAs with a dinner or lunch, remember that attending a didactic session is part of the interview! Often fellows or other faculty will notice whether you are engaged and asking questions– or conversely, on your phone or inattentive during the presentation.

One final note and important consideration for any interview format – Remember EVERYONE you meet with could affect the outcome of your interview – this includes administrators and other support staff. Be polite and respectful to everyone you encounter during your visit.

What are some of the key questions you will likely be asked in your interview?

Here are some common questions that you should be ready to answer during your interview:

  • Icebreakers… how was your trip? What are your interests?
  • Tell me about yourself.
    • Why do interviewers ask this vague question? Sometimes they want to get a feel for you personally. It's a question they pose to begin to understand if you are a good fit for the program/practice. They expect you to tell your "Professional Life Story" – don't start off with where you were born and your family, etc. **You will very likely be asked this question or a variation. Be prepared to respond.
  • Why did you select JCMC, MMC, NBI or CBMC for your residency?
  • What have you learned during your residency? Or what was your experience during your residency?
  • Why do you want this fellowship?
  • What are your medical goals?
  • What would you consider to be your perfect job?
  • What two or three things are most important to you in your job?
  • What accomplishments have given you the most satisfaction? Why?
  • What would you want me to know that is not on your CV?

Important Note: When responding to any of these questions, be careful to avoid negative discussions during your responses or during questioning. Stay positive!

Additionally, remember you are trying to stand out and make yourself memorable. You can do this by describing an experience that is unique to you – so be prepared with an interesting story. Were you an Olympic Athlete, conducted mission work abroad or played competitive softball? These are things that will distinguish you from the pack. Consider completing 8 self-evaluation questions to help prepare your story.

Any final advice for residents when interviewing?

  1. Show up on time!
  2. Be prepared to explain gaps on your CV
  3. Do your homework! Don't skim on your pre-interview research.
  4. Don't schedule interviews back-to-back… or at least try to schedule adequate time in case one interview runs late.
  5. Be yourself. Be honest. Don't struggle to be something you're not.
  6. Everything you do during your interview is being observed!
  7. If you list something on your CV, be prepared to speak about it in-depth.
  8. Social Media is fair game. Be sure to keep your online presentation as professional as your appearance at the interview.