conveying genuine interest to far off programs

rkaz

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    I saw this post on another thread, and it made me concerned. I have interviews throughout the country, some of which are far off that I REALLY like. I am from the southwest, and some of the best quality places that have offered me interviews happen to be in the midwest/northeast. I am a lesser competitive candidate, and unfortunately did not get interviews to the top programs in my region - though I'm fortunate that some amazing programs across the country (which are as good as some of the top programs in my region, only lesser competitive due to location) were willing to give me a chance to interview me.

    Without any regional ties or never having even visited their city prior to the interview, how do I convey to those programs that I'm REALLY REALLY considering them seriously? They are still somewhat open to me, as they offered me the interview in the first place. But I don't want to be written off due to no ties to the area. How, do I convey to them that I really want to be there due to the great things I've heard about their program?

    So if you are interviewing eg in Wyoming and never set foot in the state before, you had better have some pretty compelling reason to be interviewing there. Nobody will care that you are Albert Schweitzer with a 270 on step 1 if they think you won't come -- you will end up at the bottom of their rank list.
     
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    eastcoastdr

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      During the interview you could talk about your adaptability and willingness to move to a new area. I interviewed a couple far-off places and I always mention how I moved away for both undergrad/med school and I was able to adapt and thrive in new environments. I give examples of how I got involved in my new community, etc. Maybe you could also do some research on the local region and strike up a conversation with residents about activities/things to do in the area. Say something like "I'm an avid biker and I read online that there are lots of bike trails in this area..blah blah blah". Do you have friends or family in any of those cities? You could also mention that and say it would be nice to reconnect with family members again and all that.
       
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      Law2Doc

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        If they were really worried you would not move there, they would not have offered you an interview...


        Meh, at the place I'm at we still want to know, even of those we choose to interview, that the person would actually come, if there isn't an obvious nexus. So yeah, we need the applicant to still sell themselves as to why they are interested in the program even if we chose to invite them in. The interview is their foot in the door, but they have to do a lot more than that to actually get to the top of our rank list. Most programs interview a lot more people than they really need to to avoid SOAP, so many talented people they interview will end up below the "likely to match" threshold. if they leave the interview with the program still wondering if they are really interested in the program/location, they probably dont end up high on the rank list. That's true no matter what their credentials look like.
         
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        SouthernSurgeon

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          Meh, at the place I'm at we still want to know, even of those we choose to interview, that the person would actually come, if there isn't an obvious nexus. So yeah, we need the applicant to still sell themselves as to why they are interested in the program even if we chose to invite them in. The interview is their foot in the door, but they have to do a lot more than that to actually get to the top of our rank list. Most programs interview a lot more people than they really need to to avoid SOAP, so many talented people they interview will end up below the "likely to match" threshold. if they leave the interview with the program still wondering if they are really interested in the program/location, they probably dont end up high on the rank list. That's true no matter what their credentials look like.

          I think it's very possible to overstate the importance of all this though.

          For our program at least, it's certainly something that comes into the back of peoples' minds - but at the same time I've never seen it torpedo an otherwise highly desirable candidate.

          I also found that when I said on the interview trail that I was willing to move anywhere in the country to get the best possible training, people pretty much left it at that.
           

          organdonor

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            I'm applying to primary care and most of them are pretty upfront about it; if they don't think you would even practice in the area after FINISHING residency, they won't rank you.

            I would just say you could always send occasional emails to your interviewers or the PD. Of course if the program holds a second look you should try to go.
             

            Law2Doc

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              ...
              For our program at least, it's certainly something that comes into the back of peoples' minds - but at the same time I've never seen it torpedo an otherwise highly desirable candidate...

              I've definitely seen applicants that would otherwise be high on the list of a program but seemed to have little connection to the area and seemed more likely to want to stay in a different state fall precipitously on the rank list. It absolutely happens.
               

              rkaz

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                Thanks so much everyone for your comments. For my top programs, I'm taking the extra time to look into activities I could get involved with in the area, and am emphasizing the unique aspects of the programs that appeal to me. I don't know how else to be convincing, but I hope this is a starting point. Thanks!
                 

                Law2Doc

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                  the above advice is all you really need .

                  It's more like a partial truth. An interview is your foor in the door, but it doesnt mean you are in good shape yet. Let's say a program interviews 100 people for a dozen spots. Let's say further that they like 60 people out of the 100. How are they going to decide who to rank to match, and who will be the guy who is #60, slightly better than SOAP? And consider further, that a PD wants to be able to tell his chairman/hospital/peers that he got most of his top choices and didn't go too deeply into the match list. The way this can play out at some programs is that of the people a program liked, the people who were able to convey the strongest interest in or connection to the program -- the ones who clearly would come if ranked to match -- are in better shape. so I wouldn't take the fact that you got an interview as evidence that a Program doesn't care about connections to the area. It just means they are giving you the opportunity to sell them on why you should be #1 and not # 60.
                   
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                  NotAProgDirector

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                    I think you're overstating this. Sure I'd like to tell my chairman that I filled my X spots with the top X people on my rank list. But that's nothing compared with dealing with a resident who is not doing well. So, I'd rather have the strongest people at the top of my list. Connection to a program doesn't really matter all that much to me.

                    Interview clearly matters. A good "fit" -- meaning a personality that I think would fit in with the rest of my residents -- is a big driver of position on the rank list. But connection to our area is very low on the list of things that are important.

                    I'm in New England (not new news, mentioned it before). Some of my best residents had never seen snow before. They had no connections here. Some settle in New England for their careers. Others fly back south after finishing their training here. Either way, I'm happy.

                    But, I'm only one program. May be different elsewhere.
                     
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                    Raryn

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                      Do we really need to have this discussion again so soon? I'm having nightmares about the word nexus at this point.

                      For most programs in most specialties, the most important thing after you get the interview is A) Don't be a douchebag B) Don't be a douchenozzle and C) Show at least some enthusiasm. The ranking at that point will probably be based mostly on your strength as an applicant, with some influence as to "fit" and enthusiasm. Smaller programs are more likely to give more preference to the latter, because having one terminally depressed resident out of your total 3 interns is more a problem than one bad egg out of your total 33 interns. The definition of strength will also vary from program to program, with the biggest difference being more academic programs will place more emphasis on research.

                      Law2Doc (who has never to my knowledge shared what specialty he's in, but it's something specialized/procedural/likely small based on various posts over the years) will generalize based on his own program that nexus is extremely, ridiculously important and the IM-minded individuals (IMPD, aprogdirector, gutonc) will say it probably matters a fair bit less than your general strength as an applicant (as long as you're not a douche). Either way, it's not something you can really change, and you'd be better off assuming any program that gives you an interview invite is genuinely interested and you should go to the interview if you think the interest might be mutual. Then when it comes time to rank, trying to play guessing games on who likes you is stupid and you're much better off ranking the programs in the exact order you like them (location & such factoring in to that). The programs would be better off doing the same thing, which is why most of us think enthusiasm is probably pretty low on the ranking criteria, but just like there's a number of applicants who don't understand how the match works and shoot themselves in the foot every year, there's probably a number of programs who either do the same or feel that they want to prioritize fit so much they are fine with getting relatively weaker candidates. I'll bet dollars to doughnuts those programs are almost exclusively in specialties where there's simply a glut of overqualified candidates and they can just do that, but that's just me.
                       

                      Prog86

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                        Do we really need to have this discussion again so soon? I'm having nightmares about the word nexus at this point.

                        For most programs in most specialties, the most important thing after you get the interview is A) Don't be a douchebag B) Don't be a douchenozzle and C) Show at least some enthusiasm. The ranking at that point will probably be based mostly on your strength as an applicant, with some influence as to "fit" and enthusiasm. Smaller programs are more likely to give more preference to the latter, because having one terminally depressed resident out of your total 3 interns is more a problem than one bad egg out of your total 33 interns. The definition of strength will also vary from program to program, with the biggest difference being more academic programs will place more emphasis on research.

                        Law2Doc (who has never to my knowledge shared what specialty he's in, but it's something specialized/procedural/likely small based on various posts over the years) will generalize based on his own program that nexus is extremely, ridiculously important and the IM-minded individuals (IMPD, aprogdirector, gutonc) will say it probably matters a fair bit less than your general strength as an applicant (as long as you're not a douche). Either way, it's not something you can really change, and you'd be better off assuming any program that gives you an interview invite is genuinely interested and you should go to the interview if you think the interest might be mutual. Then when it comes time to rank, trying to play guessing games on who likes you is stupid and you're much better off ranking the programs in the exact order you like them (location & such factoring in to that). The programs would be better off doing the same thing, which is why most of us think enthusiasm is probably pretty low on the ranking criteria, but just like there's a number of applicants who don't understand how the match works and shoot themselves in the foot every year, there's probably a number of programs who either do the same or feel that they want to prioritize fit so much they are fine with getting relatively weaker candidates. I'll bet dollars to doughnuts those programs are almost exclusively in specialties where there's simply a glut of overqualified candidates and they can just do that, but that's just me.

                        If I have very few interviews, let's say I feel I would be ranked pretty high at Program 'A' based on my interview. If my first choice is program 'B' , wouldn't it be better to rank Program 'A' as my #1, just in the hopes of matching somewhere?
                         

                        SouthernSurgeon

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                          If I have very few interviews, let's say I feel I would be ranked pretty high at Program 'A' based on my interview. If my first choice is program 'B' , wouldn't it be better to rank Program 'A' as my #1, just in the hopes of matching somewhere?

                          No. This is exactly what Raryn was referencing when he mentioned applicants not understanding how the match works. The algorithm is designed to work in your favor. You do not increase your chances of matching at program A by ranking program it over program B. You only decrease your chance of matching at program B.

                          Rank the programs in the order you prefer them.
                           
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                          Tildy

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                            As always, aPD has what I think is the most common, if not universal answer. For the OP, I've found that some interviewees can successfully approach this by being up front about it during the interviews or in post-interview emails. Saying "I've lived my whole life in the northeast but I'm ready to come to Ohio to try Graeter's ice cream" might be a winning line....Knowing some things you particularly like about the program (free parking doesn't qualify) can help too. Post-interview emails/calls are particularly valuable if you're concerned about this.
                             

                            Winged Scapula

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                              As always, aPD has what I think is the most common, if not universal answer. For the OP, I've found that some interviewees can successfully approach this by being up front about it during the interviews or in post-interview emails. Saying "I've lived my whole life in the northeast but I'm ready to come to Ohio to try Graeter's ice cream" might be a winning line....Knowing some things you particularly like about the program (free parking doesn't qualify) can help too. Post-interview emails/calls are particularly valuable if you're concerned about this.
                              Hmmm....Graeter's ice cream.

                              Fortunately, I can get it in the grocer's freezer here and don't have to travel to OH for it.
                               
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