Asklepian

10+ Year Member
May 25, 2009
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Status
Resident [Any Field]
Hey guys! If you're in the midst of the application cycle for this year, it's a very exciting time for you! I thought I'd go ahead and throw down some unsolicited advice that might be of help.

Your time during the interview season is precious (and so is your money). Some tips:
  • Geographical clustering: Try to put interviews from regions where you applied to several programs a little later in the season (mid to late) to allow yourself time to book multiple during the same visit. During one of my trips, I flew to one city, drove a few hours to the next one and took Step 2 CS, and then to another city for another interview. These were all only a few hours apart, and it was a major time and cost saver.
  • Schedule higher tier interviews later in the early season to mid-season: What I mean by this is don't do top tier interviews right off the bat if you can help it. I know it's tempting, but you might want to get your feet wet and see how the process works two or three times before auditioning for the big dogs.
  • Leave room open in the late season: I heard from some programs (including top 10) later in the cycle. By allowing some flexibility later in my schedule, I assured that if these came through, I'd be able to accommodate.
  • Try AirBnB (unless programs are paying for your stay, obviously): It's way cheaper than hotels and was great for me. Another huge plus was Turo, a ride share app that allows you to effectively rent cars from other individuals at a fraction of the cost. (I have no Conflict of Interest, btw. No affiliation with either of these programs)
  • Don't sabotage yourself! Trust me, even when you think no one is looking things have a way of coming out. Don't be rude to other applicants or support staff, and don't bad mouth other programs. This is probably a moot point because those that will do things like this likely aren't introspective enough to read this post, and those that are reading it probably already do these things. Just keep them in mind and be a decent person. This isn't like a typical interview. If you've been invited, you meet the criteria for someone they'd want. You just have to see how you fit them (and how they fit you!).
  • On that note, don't try to pound a square peg in a round hole! What I mean by this is that wanting something and being a match for something are different. In fact, this process is appropriately titled "The Match". Think of not just how something looks on paper or sounds to your friends/family, but if you would thrive there. I wouldn't put too much stock in the limited encounters you have with residents (unless they are abysmal) because you may only be seeing a small sample size, but certainly pay attention to faculty, Chief Residents (this gives you a flavor of the program), and most of all, the Program Director. Our PD was one of the top reasons my program stood out to me, and it has been an overwhelmingly important factor as I've moved forward.
  • Keep an ongoing log of your experiences: Interestingly, I went into interview season thinking I had it all figured out. I keep meticulous logs and ratings of the programs I was entertaining. Interestingly, as I progressed I found some of my criteria shifted in importance. It was very important though to rank things immediately after the interview, both in terms of their own significance but also in regard to the prior interviews you will have done. That way, you can keep a running rank list instead of just waiting until the end.
I have tons of tips on the last point, specifically, such as what I rated and how to weight it. If anyone is interested, I'm more than happy to share.

I'm sure to meet some of you on the trail this year!

Good luck!
Asklepian
 
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