Take Your Confidence With You to Your Interview

This is an addition to the Non-Interview Interview article that addresses factors affecting the impact of your residency interviews and your overall application. Here is a link to the original article:



For some reason, details about “Be Confident” and what this means to your residency interview was not included in the original article. Here are some thoughts about confidence as related to the interview process and some lessons we have learned from student and personal experiences.

Be Confident: Bring your confidence with you to your interview. You do not want to come across as a person who is not confident in her skill set, knowledge level, or ability to complete training. You also want the interviewer to know that you are not afraid to be questioned, challenged, or asked to defend your medical opinions and that you can handle this with poise, grace, and a sense of humor. However, always do this in response to a question. You do not need to offer up opinions unsolicited. When questioned, do not let your confidence come across as though you have all the knowledge and you have nothing left to learn. Let it be made perfectly clear that you realize that you are still a student early in your medical career who is excited about continued learning.

Confidence is especially important in a group interview. You want to stand out among the other applicants and leave an impression upon the residency committee so they will remember you when ranking time comes. However, you want to stand out in a positive way. You do not want to come across as dominating the conversation or impulsively answering questions during a group interview. However, if you are too frightened to speak up, residency interviewers will be concerned that you will not be able to speak up for your patients and advocate for them when necessary. You want to answer thoughtfully and carefully, speaking calmly and loud enough for everyone to hear. You do not have to be the first person to answer the questions posed each and every time, but occasionally be the first to answer (if you have an answer).

Also be aware that there is a difference between sending a message of confidence versus a message of arrogance. Each year, there always seem to be a few students who do not match and it is a mystery as to why, since their grades and board scores are not a problem. When talking to residency program directors, we would learn that the applicant sent the message that they were bored by the interview process and that they were not interested in the residency program. We also learned that often these students may have readily answered questions during the interview process, but lacked friendliness and interest in the other applicants, staff members, or application activities. This led the interview committee to believe that they either were not invested in matching at their program or lacked some basic social skills. The source of this behavior may actually be nervousness or shyness, but comes across as disinterest, especially when paired with high board scores.

You cannot go wrong being friendly to everyone with a smile and a verbal greeting. A verbal and written thank you following your interview to everyone involved, including administrative assistants, will also benefit you. That you have the confidence and awareness to initiate a warm greeting to all that are arranging an interview experience for you, is a good representation of how you will treat patients and co-workers in other stressful situations. If you run into a grumpy faculty member or interviewer, wow them with your calm and confident demeanor, remembering to be kind to everyone.

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