Residency Interview Season, by the Numbers

Independence Hall in Philadelphia

Independence Hall in Philadelphia

I’m a 4th year med student who has just finished interviewing for Emergency Medicine residencies, and Doctors In Training has kindly agreed to let me share some of my experiences. I'll be the first to admit that interview seasons can be exhausting and stressful; however, I had a wonderful time on some of my interview trips. I hope that some of these tips will help you do the same!

3: The most interviews I scheduled in a given week. I ran into other applicants doing up to 9 interviews in a row(!), but I would advise doing no more than two or three in a week because the exhaustion is all too real. I kept track of my schedule with Google calendar synced to my phone, so when my interview offers inevitably arrived in the middle of rounds, I could quickly check dates and confirm without ever needing a computer.

$840: The amount I spent on nine nights in hotels (the rest of the nights I stayed with friends). Luckily enough, I was able to drive to all my interviews, and I would estimate I spent an additional $500 on gas and food while traveling. Priceline and Kayak were helpful for finding cheap hotels, but if you can stay with family or friends, do it!

2: The number of interviews I had in the snow. Weather can be a real concern depending on your location (I drove to my final interview in blinding snow!), so leave yourself plenty of extra time and always have an ice scraper and an umbrella on hand. Two other essentials I never left home without were my GPS and my car phone charger.

Cooper's Rock National Forest in West Virginia

Cooper's Rock National Forest in West Virginia

15: The number of minutes you should allocate to find your interview location within the hospital. So many hospitals are mazes, and oftentimes your meeting place is quite far from hospital parking. I looked up each hospital on Google Maps street view the day before my interview, so I knew where to find the parking garage. (I know it sounds really goofy, but it was one of the more useful things I did).

1: The number of well-fitted suits you need. A fellow applicant was wearing a shirt and suit jacket that were too short for her, and every time she moved, her large lower back tattoo was visible–not exactly the image you want your interviewers to remember as you're walking out of the room!

0: The number of times you should pull out your cell phone when the program director is in the room. I lost count of how many applicants I saw check their phones while the program director was talking! I'll admit I'm guilty of constantly checking my email (and maybe Twitter too), but make sure you don't have your phone out while the program director is around–it makes you look disinterested and that's never the impression you want to give.

Infinity: The number of adventures you should have on your interview trips! In the past two months, I've eaten ice cream on the beach, seen fall foliage in a national forest, visited the Liberty Bell, toured Chocolate World and eaten some spectacular meals at local restaurants. Check and see if your hotel has a gym or a pool and if so, bring your gym clothes and bathing suit. It's pretty hard to beat sitting in a hotel hot tub for pre-interview stress relief! Viewing each interview as a pre-paid mini-vacation will make your experience so much more worthwhile.

Best of luck on the interview trail!

About Heather Auerbach

Heather Auerbach is a 4th year student at the University of Maryland School of Medicine.
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