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Dinner with the Residents

October 26, 2011 Leave a comment

Sid Vicious

So you may have the opportunity to go to dinner with residents the night before your interview. Some programs invite interviewees to go out with your soon to be colleagues.

Think about how you want to present yourself. Do you wear your leather jacket, leopard print t-shirt and a mustache of mustard? Um, no. Do you wear your interview suit? No again. Do you wear a tie? No again. What you want to do is look like you fit in with the group. Wear something “smart casual” which is a pressed shirt, ironed pants and leather shoes. No T shirts, even if the residents all wear scrubs. You want to look relaxed and easy going but smart.

Best to be on your best behavior and don’t pepper the residents with questions all night. Be your charming self and ask things like “what do you like to do on your days off?” and “Do residents socialize much as a group?” This dinner is for you to get to know the residents and for you to see if you would like working with these residents. It is not part of the interview. The residents will have little or no say in how you are ranked. If you come across as pushy, annoying and irritating then they will surely remember you but not in the way that you want.

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.

Categories: Interview

Pre Match Offers

October 18, 2011 1 comment

My good friend has been lucky. My friend has gotten 18 interviews. My friend is an IMG and outstanding candidate with excellent scores, an MPH from a big US university and a track record of very strong research and has US clinical experience as a medical student.

My friend now has two pre-match offers. This is the last year of the pre-match offer as the policy is changing next year which is a good thing for the applicants. (See my post on pre-match)

Here is the dilemma. Does my friend take a pre-match offer when interviews have not begun for university programs??? My friend is strong enough to match at a university program in my opinion.

One program gave my friend a month to decide. The other program gave my friend 24 hours!!! Both of these programs are not my friend’s top choice among those that my friend interviewed. In fact, if my friend ranked those programs they would be in the bottom half. Not bad places but my friend has interviews at several university programs.

I always tell people to accept the pre-match if the program has a record of getting people into fellowships that you might want to pursue. If the program has never had a graduate go into a fellowship program then you might want to take your chances with the match. Alternatively if you have very few interviews you might just take what you are given.

Regarding my friend, at 18 interviews the probability of matching is > 80% but it is not 100%.
My friend has several more interviews scheduled. I told my friend to go on the interviews to see if there are any more pre-match offers.

If there are no more pre-match offers I told my friend to accept the pre-match offer at the program where residents get fellowships even though it is probably not the best “match.”  Having a spot that is an OK fit is better than not matching at all.  Once my friend is in fellowship the location of the residency will no longer matter.

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.

Categories: Interview

What do I wear for my interview?

October 13, 2011 Leave a comment

Interview season is approaching for some of you. Lets figure out what to wear.

First the men.

You will likely be better dressed than your interviewer as most physicians do not wear suits.

Your suit colors should be any of the following, Dark gray solid, Midnight blue solid, Medium gray semi-solid, Gray pin stripe, Navy blue chalk stripe.  Most commonly men will wear Navy blue chalk stripe suit.  You don’t have to wear a suit as a navy blazer and wool tan pants are perfectly acceptable.

If you choose to wear a suit make it a single breasted. Shirt should be white or a light shade of blue. Shoes should be black or brown oxfords -have them shined at the airport.  Socks blue or black try to find mid calf or over the calf.

I would leave out the pocket square. Ties we talked about before, tie the tie the night before and loosen it and bring it over your head and hang it up.  That way in the am before your interview you can just slip it on over your head and tighten the knot. Wear no more jewelry than a wedding ring, dress wristwatch and optional cufflinks.  I’m not a fan of tie bars – none of your interviewers will be wearing them. Bring your outfit on the plane, wear your shoes.  If your luggage is lost, at least you have your outfit.

Dress conformity doesn’t mean expensively dressed. Most of the suit-wearing people in the world wear inexpensive clothing, but your outfit can be improved in subtle ways.

Try a cream shirt with a navy suit and light blue shirt with a charcoal suit. Add a solid navy tie with the gray suit, a charcoal tie with the navy for a more polished look that still won’t raise any eyebrows.

Where to buy?  In the US try Jos Bank separates or Macy’s separates as they are fine quality wise and are always on sale.  No need to buy more expensive as the quality to price ratio is not in your favor.  You should be able to get a suit for around $300 on sale.  You want to go to a store and try the suits on to make sure that they fit well and you are comfortable in them.

One last thing, avoid cologne, it can be overpowering in a small office.

Have a look at my other posts on interviewing for some tips

What color tie should I wear?
Interview Day again
Knocking on your interviewer’s door
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.

Categories: Interview

What color tie should I wear?

August 11, 2011 Leave a comment

Here is your interviewer waiting for you to say something brilliant.

So I like to wear suits to see patients, it is one of those things.  I’m not a white coat guy. Fodder for another post.

Today I am going to get going on what you should wear on your interview.  Lets just assume for a moment that everything will work out and you will get lots of interviews.  What color tie do you wear, how do you wear it.  How are you going to impress your interviewer above?

Tie Knot

The four most commonly used tie knots are the four-in-hand knot, the half-Windsor knot, the Windsor knot and the Pratt knot. All of them are just fine for interviews.  Avoid the bow tie for now.  When you are famous you can let the bow tie fly.

The tie tip should just touch the buckle of your belt.

Tie Color and Pattern

Boring ties are the way to go.  Everyone likes red which is fine, just go for a burgundy red.  Neat patterns work well.  Solid color is just fine.

You may see me with bow ties with snazzy jackets but leave those at home for your interview.

Tweed, tie bars and handkerchiefs look terrific on some but you may not want your interviewers to think to much about what you are wearing.

Tie Fabric
Silk.

Tie Accessories
I’m not a fan of tie bars, tie tacks etc.

Now if I am talking to you and you are looking at me like this with this crazy but admittedly well made suit I’m not sure what to think…

  • [nick+foulkes+seated.jpg]

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.

Categories: Interview Tags:

Interview day again

August 10, 2011 Leave a comment

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.

Knocking on your interviewer’s door

I interview a lot.

One thing that I notice is if a candidate knocks on my door while I am interviewing someone else and I open the door that candidate outside my door gets spooked. I think that they can see by my face that I am busy. I see fear in the eyes. Invariably the outside candidate says “I’m sorry, I’ll wait.” I try then to hurry to finish the interview I was conducting which is a little irritating.

What do you think that does to my first impression of the outside candidate? I think of that outside candidate just isn’t very confident. “I’m sorry” can be a show of contrition, a sign of weakness especially if it is the first thing you say. It is strange but I see it time and again. It is hard for that outside candidate to have that great first impression moment (eye contact, smile, firm hand shake) again. It’s like we have already met. That first meeting is so important. You don’t get that moment back.

Solution: If you can, have someone else (secretary, assistant) knock on the door for you. Then the secretary can “bother” the interviewer if they are busy. That gets you off the hook and the annoyance can be placed on the secretary or assistant and not you. That way your first impression to the interviewer is not “who are you and why are you bothering me!” its “wow, it’s so nice to meet you.” It is always better to have your interviewer first meet you when they are ready. I need a break of about 5 minutes between interviews. One can only listen to so much talking.

It’s not always possible to get someone to do the knocking for you. If the “I’m sorry, I’ll wait” happens to you, take a deep breath and be just a bit more confident and positive. Spend the waiting time thinking about what you want to say. You can overcome that grumpy interviewer’s lukewarm first impression of you.

Categories: Interview

Interview Day

So the big day is here. What to wear, how to wear it.

For men it is easy for most. Wear a suit – it doesn’t have to be Armani or Brooks Brothers, I won’t look at the label. Try it on before you interview. I interviewed for fellowship in my residency suit – it was a size or two small! Don’t wear a black suit, those are for funerals. Shoes should be black or brown and have them shined in the airport. Socks blue or brown. Belt black, brown or tan – yes. White or light blue shirt. Long tie normal width (no skinny ties), not bright orange. Avoid the tie bar. No bow ties unless you are really confident. On second thought, no bow ties. No white socks. No sandals. Please shower and shave. Wear deodorant. Limit the facial hair if you can. Shave the mustache if you can bear to part with it. Get a haircut. Go easy on the gel and the spiky hair. Look professional.

For women it is a bit easier. As long as you are comfortable and look professional you will look confident and professional. Most women wear a blue or brown suit with a white, pink or light blue shirt. Earrings are small, necklace is understated. I see some applicants with heals, some with flats. I see a lot of pony tails. Go easy on the makeup. I would avoid perfume.

All in all, your professional appearance will plant a positive seed in my mind and I will see you as a professional appearing candidate. Then I can focus on what you say. What you wear will not stand out in my mind. Unless your luggage gets lost, then you will be remembered in a good way for interviewing in jeans and sneakers (I’ve seen it).

Categories: Interview