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Interview day again

August 10, 2011

The interview is an opportunity to talk to you in English, although I know someone who likes to interview candidates in Spanish (if the candidates speak Spanish of course). When you greet your interviewer look them in the eye, shake their hand and smile. Tell them with your actions that you are happy to be there. Sit a little forward in your chair. Make eye contact during the interview. Don’t forget to smile and do your best to relax.

I will ask questions about the things that you wrote about on your statement and about you as a person.  If you interview with me then you will have a nice conversation about whatever I feel like talking about.  I want to know what makes you tick.   Candidates in general usually interview fairly well.

The interview may be an opportunity for you to talk about a case that you have seen.  Your interviewer may ask you to describe a case that you saw during your clinical training or observership.  You should try to think about this one so that you are not caught off guard.  Make sure your are prepared for this one.  I hear interviewers complain that applicants can’t talk about a real case frequently.

Also be sure that you have two questions to ask the interviewer. A question like “What do you especially like about the program here?” works well.

In the old days, applicants  were asked to read an ECG or interpret lab data, open a window that had been nailed shut.  My most interesting interview was with an orthopedic surgeon while he operated in a space suit.  As you can imagine the interview was a bit awkward and I didn’t get into that medical school.

The next worse interview I had was for residency where I was having an animated chat with the secretary about my 1967 Chevy Nova that I drove when I was 16.  I really liked that car. The interviewer came out and asked me what I was going on about and that he did not appreciate the noise.  He totally threw me off my game.  Now that was an interview to forget. I did not match at that program.

The next worse interview was for fellowship. I decided to wear my interview suit from residency and it was a bit snug. So snug that I could barely sit down. Then my numeric pager went off during an interview (before cell phone days) and I had to ask the interviewer if I could use his phone. He was not happy as the call took longer than one would like. Total disaster. I did not get into that program either.

There are lots of sites that have interview questions.  Write out your answers and practice them with friends and in front of a mirror.  Video yourself answering the questions.  While it is painful to watch yourself speaking it is helpful to change that irritating habit of saying “um… well….um…ummm”

I tell people to bring a book (in English) that you are reading.   The book will give your interviewer something to talk about.  It will also give you something to do while you are waiting for this and that to happen and make you less nervous.

I wish you success on your interview day.

The views expressed in this post are those of Kenneth Christopher, MD and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dr. Christopher’s employer Partners HealthCare.

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