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Recommendations/Tips for Radiology Interviewees --

Gadofosveset

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7+ Year Member
Oct 3, 2014
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  1. Attending Physician
    Having been on both sides of the radiology resident interview process, I thought a list of suggestions for the process may be useful to some people out there. I have neither ax nor adze to grind; my motivation is that I might have found some these tips helpful when I went for residency interviews (a while ago). Take them with a grain of salt, but most of these tips are not theoretical. They are collected out of direct observation of interviewees on prior interview cycles.

    1. The residents are your friends. Probably the majority of the faculty you interview with will forget you the second you turn around... in fact, at some larger programs, the faculty don't even remember the names of residents they've worked with for four years. Residents, however, are much less likely to forget you... for good or for bad.

    2. Bad/obnoxious is always more memorable than good. If you have to make a choice, be polite and conservative.

    3. Go to the dinner the night before. If interviewing at a program you want, do not think of this as optional. Have a drink or two, maybe four (but not five). This has all to do with making a good impression on the residents. When the interview panel occurs in late spring, the faculty you interviewed with will more than likely have forgotten you (unless you make a massive etiquette faux pas, which -- amazingly -- happens frequently). At this all important ranking process, resident input can mean a great deal.

    4. Follow-up on the massive faux-pas thing... I think some interviewees have a hard time gauging how much "confidence" or "assertiveness" to show. These are the people who feel they need to dominate other interviewees, talk about their surgery rotation, or drop comments about their experience in IR... you get the idea. These are almost always the people who screw up royally. Faculty will not be impressed... they will be ignore it or be annoyed. Interviewing residents will tend to loathe these interviewees, as you would too if you had to interview that person. If you have to choose between humble and "confident," pick humble. Drop the insecure sneer and think charming and gracious. No one cares about how you dominated x rotation. It will not help you.

    5. This should be obvious, but do not talk about moonlighting or salary or benefits with interviewing attendings. Discuss this with the residents at the dinner. Attendings probably don't know the details anyway.

    6. This may be a point lost on this forum, but don't start a "future of radiology" discussion in your interview. Be intellectually curious and a good team player (hopefully you're not faking it). If asked about the future of radiology, be cautious. Not uncommonly, interviewees go negative and screw themselves.

    7. If you're asked what animal you would be, think of something besides a large cat. Back it up in a non-serious way.

    8. Thank you cards may seem goofy (I thought they were at the time). They're actually harmless. They're polite. Do it. Thank residents you talk to and/or the chief residents in an email. Do not slam the program coordinator with emails.

    9. In my opinion, the MOST important part of the interview for interviewees is the noon conference. Watch everyone. Watch residents' reactions to attendings. Watch the attendings. Are the residents intellectually curious? Are they bored? Are they angry? Are they rude? Are the residents cohesive? Is care put into the lecture material? This is a vital snapshot you could have of the residency experience. By the way, the noon lecture may be above your head, but if you nod off, you might as well just leave afterwards. This has happened. Also... don't take cases unless some evil person forces you, and even then it's ok to weasel out: risk >> reward.

    10. Relax. The rank list is decided in a few round-table discussions amongst attendings and maybe a few residents. These are bizarre scenes. People you think disliked you will stand up for you. People who you think got along with you will dismiss you. Residents may fight for you if they think you're being undervalued. This happens. Some people will judge you by your hair. Some people will not rank you no matter what you say or do. Some people will go to bat for you. You will have no idea who these people are and very little control over this process other than to sink yourself with acting weird and unlike yourself (unless that really *is* who you are, in which case, please showcase it to make decisions easier!) Believe it or not, if you were on the other side of this whole process you'd find yourself doing something similar.

    Recommendation -- enjoy this process. Think of it as a way to see many other programs, meet people, get some free drinks, make contacts, talk with interesting people. I vividly remember many of the places I interviewed and, for some, I may never see that hospital or city again. Don't get so overwhelmed with anxiety that you miss out on the fun of traveling around.

    Minor points:
    - Don't think in terms of some residents having a say on the rank list committee and some not. They all talk amongst themselves. Consider every resident an ally.
    - If you have to leave early explain why and no one will care. Don't just vanish.
    - Think of the attending interview as a time to engage in small talk. A 15 minute talk about baseball is the best interview ever. If you don't know anything about baseball, talk about movies or something. Be positive. Avoid ponderous. Follow their lead, cautiously.
    - Be polite and discreet. People screw this up so so so much. Overpolite is ok.
    - Never go negative (other programs, emergency department, stereotypes of other branches of medicine, future of radiology, whatever). It doesn't make you look insightful or intelligent. Unearned/borrowed cynicism usually makes you look like a jerk.
    - I don't want to know about your research unless I ask you about it.
    - As a corollary, never forget that you do not actually know any radiology. You want these people to teach you. Can you learn here?
    - It's ok to have a bagel and orange juice while waiting for your interview. You're not about to dive on to the Normandy beach. Don't just stare like a stuffed frog.


    Hope this helps someone.
     
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    txguy

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    1. Attending Physician
      Completely agree with the above. Although I applied during the peak of competitiveness, I believe most candidates are still academically qualified (good grades, board scores, ECs, etc.). Therefore, all we are trying to assess during the interview/dinner is "can I work with this guy/gal in the reading room?"
       

      greg1184

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        All I can say is enjoy the process. It will drain you of your time, money and energy.... for something that's not guaranteed. However, it was alot of fun visiting places and meeting people. Other than fellowship, there isn't much opportunity to do that.


        Then afterwards, always be prepared for the worst and hope for the best.
         
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        AlexMorph

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          If you felt like your conversation with an attending during an interview was like a friendly chat, that's the sign of an interview that went well. It's not an interrogation. On the other hand, don't try to be edgy. Play it safe.
           

          blebb

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            Completely agree with the above. Although I applied during the peak of competitiveness, I believe most candidates are still academically qualified (good grades, board scores, ECs, etc.). Therefore, all we are trying to assess during the interview/dinner is "can I work with this guy/gal in the reading room?"

            That last bit is all i care about when i meet a candidate. You've met the academic cutoff, but is this a person i want to work with?
             
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