What do you want in an interview day?

Discussion in 'Anesthesiology' started by iron, Dec 15, 2005.

  1. iron

    iron Member
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    Having recently finished residency (June 2004), I find myself Chair of a Residency Selection Committe. Which means picking out applicants to interview, scheduling the interview day, selecting interviewers, giving advice on questions to ask, etc.

    What do applicants like/dislike on interview days? which questions? What do you like to see on the tour? Who do you like to meet? Necessary to meet chair, PD, lots of residents?

    Pimping is low on the list, I know. And a free hotel and airfare would be nice but unrealistic given our budget.

    I'm trying to improve our interview days and feel we've made real strides:
    tours with a resident guide (not the PD)
    lunch/lecture with residents
    dinner with residents

    Your feedback helps me, help you!
    Thanks
     
  2. rugtrousers

    rugtrousers Senior Member
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    Very cool, very cool.

    Personally, I like the following in an interview day:
    -reasonable start time- (i.e. no earlier than 8:00 am) Consider that we have to get there, possibly not knowing our way around the city, and usually have to check out of our hotels in the morning, deal with rush hour traffic, etc.
    -written schedule/agenda- Not only does this help with writing thank you notes later, it takes away some of the anxiety to know what is coming up during the course of the day. One school printed the schedule on the back of our name tags - brilliant!
    -breaks between interviews - It's nice to have a break, on the order of 5-10 minutes, to regroup, allow for some interviews to take too much time, go to the bathroom, get some water.

    Please don't start the interview with "So, do you have any questions for me?" I personally like to be asked weird questions ("What kind of cell are you?") and questions about my application. I don't like to be asked what other programs I'm considering because it makes me feel like I have to justify having applied to places other than the place I'm interviewing that day.

    It depends on how the hospital is laid out. If things are compact, I like to see everything (cafeteria, outpatient clinic, PACU, holding area, call rooms, resident lounge). Schlepping, however, is not fun, especially in suits and dress shoes (even if they are "comfortable" dress shoes). Operating rooms are optional for me. If you have pictures of the OR during the orientation talk, and offer an optional OR tour at the end of the day, I think that would suffice. (No more bunny suits!)

    Short answer: As many people as possible.
    Long answer: I like to see the chair and the PD because it gives the impression that they care about the new residents coming into the program. I like to see female and minority faculty and residents because it makes me think the program is diverse and is interested in staying that way. I like to see residents because it implies that residents are relieved for what the program considers to be important activities. I also observe on the tour how the residents interact with staff (smiles? frowns?) which gives me some idea of how they are received in the office.

    Not necessarily, as long as it's not done with malice. It's kind of cool to learn something during your interview. And I think it's entirely reasonable to be pimped about something related to your application. I do not, however, think that pimping has a role in short interviews (<20 minutes), when it seems that the interviewer is more interested in weeding you out than in getting to know you.

    If you can consider at least partial reimbursement, that would help a lot. One program I applied to only offered a hotel stay to people >50 miles away, and no one I applied to offered airfare.

    Lunch and dinner with the residents is super helpful, and can help applicants answer questions about the nuts and bolts of the program or about living in the area. People involved in admissions/selection should not go to these events, however.

    Good luck, and thanks for asking!
     
  3. zack_morris

    zack_morris Member
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    the number one thing i would like to see in an interview day (previous poster briefly talked about it):
    Don't have interviewers base the entire interview on answering questions. I'm so tired of traveling to interviews, finding the department on interview day, and, after having put so much effort into the application, having each interviewer just want to answer my questions. Please, we could do that over the phone. It is nice to find the rare interviewer who actually spent time to read over my application, and then ask ME some questions. Each person on the interview trail is putting a lot of effort into this whole ordeal; it would be nice to see our interviewers putting forth some effort as well.
     
  4. VentdependenT

    VentdependenT You didnt build thaT
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    Do what Virginia Mason did,

    Have 1/2 the applicants throw on scrubs when they get there and lead them into the OR's. Then take that group and disperse them in rooms and let them speak frankly with the residents while they are working. It shows the work environment, avoids all the BS small talk, and most importantly it shows confidence in your program. Rotate the residents through 2-3 rooms. That was my single greatest interview experience.

    The other half interviews and goes on the OR resident tour in the afternoon. Yes its more work but I promise that your apps won't forget it.

    Would be nice if we did that at Rush. Perhaps some day we will.
     
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  5. Skrubz

    Skrubz Not your scut monkey
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    i agree with vent - virginia mason was the most enjoyable interview day i had and i really enjoyed being able to speak to the residents one on one with no attendings in the room. also, to reiterate what some others have said, get the residents out of the OR to mingle with the residents, even if it's just for a short break. of course, both can be logistically challenging...
     
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  6. MD/TX2006

    MD/TX2006 Member
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    ABSOLUTELY agree with don't ask "What questions do you have?" Every time the interviewer asks me this and I might not have a question by that interview it ends up being a 5 minute interview because they weren't prepared to ask something else. :eek:

    So, we work on these long PS/CV in our apps, PLEASE have your interviewers read them and ask something about it. It makes us feel like the program would like a well-rounded person, or a research person or whatever you ask about. My favorite interview thus far was the "Behavioural" style at Vandy. They actually found out something about the applicant in a non-malignant fashion, and it gave us an opportunity to think about what we are really saying to them. I haven't been pimped yet thankfully! :luck:

    I dislike the tours, unless you have phenomenal ORs equiptment, leave it out. I really think expecting a female to do the bunny suit in a skirt is crazy, but hey, when one of the best programs tells me to do it, I won't say no! :laugh:

    I also think the day should last from 800 to noon, then lunch. More interviews are better than less, like four opinions compared to two. Defintely a break in between. By the afternoon, many of us are getting tension headaches and are ready to take off. :cool:

    Amazingly enough- all programs did not provide name tags! Those are really necessary. :thumbup:

    I was really impressed with those who provided folders with all the pertinent information like perks, salary, vacation, spectrum of cases, faculty, researchers, something about the city/real estate, etc. It provided a sense that the program has got it together! :love:

    I love the dinner the night before- especially with a varied representation of residents from intern to CA-3. Hotels are being given to us, and that makes a good experience if there's a shuttle too. If there is a dinner, providing a hotel is the polite thing to do and we are lucky that most programs have that option. Airfare is not expected, but hotels definitely are. ;)

    I'm having fun so far interviewing, so most places must be doing a great job.
    PS- sorry, I was having fun with the icons on this post just to entertain myself. :D
     
  7. Idiopathic

    Idiopathic Newly Minted
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    The worst thing I have found (biggest turn off) is the unprepared interviewer. One who doesnt know your file, history, anything about you, and who spends 5-7 minutes talking about themselves followed by the "tell me about yourself" or "do you have any questions for me". It shows laziness and is a major turnoff.
     
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  8. kid korea

    kid korea ASA Member
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    agreed. even worse than opening the interview with "what questions do you have" is saying "hold on a second, and let me just read your file here..." and then you watch in silence as they read your file. really quite awkward.

    i'd also like to add that taking phone calls is kind of awkward. especially when they get put on hold, and its just the two of you, sitting there in silence.
     
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  9. djipopo

    djipopo SDN Angel
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    ABSOLUTELY NO PIMPING.

    PERIOD.

    it's classless.

    aside from that, my DREAM interview would include:
    - nice dinner and hotel room the night before the interview, both paid for by the program (i know, i'm an expensive date :D )
    - dinner with the residents, no attendings present (maybe even no chiefs present as some act like they are monitoring every word that is spoken)
    - interview day starting >9:00am
    - receiving a folder with a schedule for the day and info about the program, (a nice pen earns brownie points!)
    - brief powerpoint presentation overviewing the program
    - meeting with the PD, Chair of the Department and Chief Residents
    - 2-3 conversational, pimp-free interviews for 15-20 min each where the interviewer has actually read and remembers my application
    - lunch with the residents (again no attendings present)
    - brief tour of the facilities: including entrance to the OR, magnetic board or electronic OR board whatever applies, PACU, pre-op holding area, resident lounge, anesthesia library, call rooms, cafeteria, ER, ICU's
    - day ends from 1-3pm.

    Again, that would be my dream interview, but including most of the above would be great!
     
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  10. fishtolive

    fishtolive Senior Member
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    Some more input.

    1. At least look at the file before meeting with the candidate (it makes it easier on both parties and gives the interviewee a better opinion of the program--ie, they actually care if I come here).

    2. Interview in the first half of the day versus after lunch, tours, etc. because by that time you are tired of being "on" and will have no response to the usual "any questions about the program" question.

    3. Put your cards on the table...some of the best days were when the PD's leveled with us (Sinai, MGH) and gave fairly detailed and honest assessments of the program's strengths and weaknesses. The more info the better...informed consumers are happier.

    4. Though I am sick of tours I say keep em...for one it's another chance to speak with residents candidly, also you need to see some of the hospital you could ptentially work in for 3 years. Just keep it short (ie, less than 30-45 minutes).

    5. I know this is interviewer specific but starting off by saying you wanna see if I'm XYZ material is sort of stuffy and a real turn off. It's like, yeah, I know, that's why you're interviewing me smartass.

    6. Pimping...it happens, I know. It's usually not a big deal in the selection process, I know. But I still don't see wasting a good opportunity to connect with a potential resident by askng about FRC and pressure support. If you read a file and the student looks good, odds are he will be able to assimilate all he needs to as a resident so find out if he's as likable as his letter writers/MSPE say. This is also a turn off to 9 out of 10 people I talk to.

    Just some of what I've noticed out there.
     
  11. aredoubleyou

    aredoubleyou Senior Member
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    I always thought that maybe I'm a little different (not nec. in a good way) - but now I know it. Sadly, I think I gotta disagree with everybody at least somewhat.

    What I want in an interview day is to know what I'm getting into by going to this program in the most enjoyable (and least painful) way.

    Access to the residents is key. I strongly prefer that they aren't 4 hand picked residents, but whoever might show up that day. The dinner the night before the interview is the best setting. If I like the type of peope going to the program, I figure I have a higher probability of enjoying my collegues at that program. Its a better environment for getting a feel for them than the lunch on interview day.

    On the interview day a later start is appreciated, but will not effect how I rank the program. Meeting with the PD and/or Chair one on one is a nice - it demonstrates their interest (as mentioned before) and I get the best feel for how they think of me. I dont mind at all interviewers asking me what questions I have - it allows me to control the conversation on issues I'm interested in. Its nice when interviewers know my application, but I'm not the least bit turned off when they dont (the PD is a very different story - I exprect that they will be familiar with me - that isnt to say i want them to have memorized my info - but the PD should have a general idea if they're interested). I can tell them about what I put in my CV - which is what we would probably talk about anyway. I also dont mind when we talk about basically nothing for 1/2 hour - I like discussing common hobbies, etc...its nice to know the people Ill be working for are easy to talk to (or at least a few of them are!)

    The things I dont like and potentially may make me rank the program lower - pimping, as I posted in the interview review thread, I think it works against both interviewer and interviewee (wont repeat my reasons for this) - especially given the overabundance of academic information they have on us btwn boards, grades, evals, deans letter, etc. I dont appreciate silly questions (like rugtrouser's what kinda cell are you?)- what is one going to make of the answer...unless you have a psychology degree on the wall I tend to think they are asking it cause they think the have some innate ability to extrapolate some personality trait based on your answer...so I fall into that paranoid 'what are they thinking' state of mind.

    As far as tours go, I like a short tour - can look at hot nurses, see if people look unhappy and rude, get a general feel of the patient population - I couldnt care less about what the ICU looks like or the PACU - they all look the same. I have to disagree with Vent, I really dont want to get dressed to go into the OR. Ive got a suit on, it takes me a couple tries to get my tie right, I really dont appreciate it - and I'm not so ignorant that I'm going to pick a program based on the look of the OR room, or brand of gas machine, or electronic charting, etc...

    Although paying for hotel doesnt effect how i'll rank a program, as it turns out I will have cancelled every interview that doesnt pay (or help pay) not in my home town cause i already feel good with the interviews I've had and cant justify additional at rograms I'm not desperateto interview at.
     
  12. bigeyedfish

    bigeyedfish Member
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    This will repeat some of what is already posted, but.

    Don't start the interview off by asking, "what other programs have you/are you interviewing at?" I've had this happed several times and it's uncomfortable. I've also had people immediately start with "do you have any questions?" I didn't like that.

    In short, give an honest presentation of all the strong and weak points of the program, and what you are doing to strengthen the weak areas. No pimping. No weird, off the wall questions, (what kind of cell, etc.) And free access to residents in an attending-free environment.
     
  13. cubs3canes

    cubs3canes Senior Member
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    MY list

    1) Brief presentation with strengths and weaknesses given by PD or Chairman.
    I want them to be involved in the selection process because they are responsible for the future of the program

    2) Hotel payment with a shuttle from the airport and to the interview. This is ideal, but renting a car can sometimes add $50.00 to the trip. Also, I like meeting the other applicants on the bus ride versus in front of the attendings.

    3) One good meal. If you pay for a dinner than lunch can be sandwiches. If you do not pay for dinner, please take us out for a good lunch. DO NOT ALLOW IT TO BE DRUG REP PAID FOR FOLLOWED BY A MEDICINE LIKE PRESENTATIONS. There is a reason that I did not do medicine.

    4) Random access to random residents. I like waiting between interviews in the resident lounge. That way you can talk to whatever residents are haning out.
     
  14. IlianaSedai

    IlianaSedai Senior Member
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    One of the things I very much liked about a program I interviewed at recently:

    All of the interviewers read the applications before the interview date and then divided the applicants amongst themselves based on their interests in what the applications said. They clearly demonstrated that they had 1) read the applications, 2) were very interested in specific aspects of the applications and took the time to find out more about them, and 3) chose who they interviewed.

    I was very impressed that they took the time to do this and it showed sincere interest and wisdom on their parts about who they were choosing for their program. I believe they will have (mostly) well chosen residents.
     
  15. Stillinscrubs

    Stillinscrubs Member
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    Iron,

    I agree with most of what has been posted above. My interviews have varied greatly from intense to watching the removal of a line in a burn unit, and I find the more relaxed get to know you interviews more enjoyable. I get a little tired of hearing "do you have any questions" too often, but I write it of as people honestly wanting to provide me with any information I could possibly want. I would just suggest to interviewers that they try to consciously limit the number of times that they ask it.

    In the past month, I have been traveling to many different towns that I am unfamiliar with. I really appreciate the efforts of some programs that provide me with informative travel information such as which airport is better to fly into, what transportation options are and how much they cost, and directions on how to get to where I am going, etc. While I can find my way around, I feel it displays professional forethought on the part of the programs that inform me how to navigate their area most efficiently. And aren't we all training to be forward thinkers and not just people who react?

    Programs that provide me with a cd or binder/folder of pertinent information, have a power point overview of the program, and provide me with pertinent travel information impress me. Why? Because if they take the time to do this then they are probably going to be just as concerned about taking the time to train me. I want to work with people like that. But I understand that I am a type "A" personality and not everyone is.
     
  16. iron

    iron Member
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    I've been reading your replies. I'm planning on some changes already. While we're half-way through our interview season, I don't see why I shouldn't change to improve the day. I also give feedback to our interviewers.

    Thanks to everyone for contributing to this forum.
     
  17. sleepwithme

    sleepwithme registered playa
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    also do not interview DURING lunch. i have had two of those occur now. It is nerve wracking when u take a big bite into a sandwich and you are called 15 minutes early for your interview during lunch. Do I have spinach in my teeth? plus lunch slows you down, and the coffee wears off
     
  18. djipopo

    djipopo SDN Angel
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    One more thing:

    no illegal questions. at every single interview i've attended so far, at least one interviewer asks me about my marital status, plans for family, etc.

    didn't they get the memo?!!!!! :eek:
     
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  19. oldman

    oldman Senior Citizen
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    one tour i really enjoyed was a 1 on 1 tour with a chief who was interviewing me while walking. i think better on my feet.

    also an interview with the program director and chair i think is very important. i can try to get a feel of how they will run things better on a one on one environment.
     
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  20. Trisomy13

    Trisomy13 ultra
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    I have been thinking about this thread recently during my interviews, and see that the issue of travel information has been brought up. I'd like to add to this that I appreciate the presentation of information about the program's city and/or local region. I'm realizing that many programs are very similar, and one of the deciding factors on my ROL will be "in which city will I be comfortable for the next 3-4 years". I've also found myself "selling the city" to other applicants at some programs because they have questions about the area that are only vaguely answered by the residents. "So how is life in ABC Town?" "Oh well, you know, you love it or hate it. There's lots to do. You can find a place to live." Four-five slides about an unfamiliar city can go a long way in giving someone an idea of what it will be like to live there, especially when we for the most part fly into town on a cold rainy day, rush to dinner, crash at the hotel, spend the whole day in the hospital, then head back to the airport.
     
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  21. adleyinga

    adleyinga Einstein
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    ACtually- I find this question - although illegal- very helpful to the applicant. I can talk about the city and what it has to offer for the individual. Housing, schools, single clubs, S&M bars etc. I feel that the city and place the resident and their significant other will live is an extremely important part of any decision to pick a program.
    The question has no effect on your ranking but lets me give you additional info. that might be relavant.

    On another note- I like some of the ideas mentiioned here and may implement then next week if I can arrange
     
  22. djipopo

    djipopo SDN Angel
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    Point taken and it seems like your intentions are good but it's still possible to provide that information to the applicant without asking them any illegal questions. For example, you could say "I don't know what your marital status is or if you have any children but city X is great because of X, Y and Z..."

    Although you state that it has no bearing on the rank list I think that information may subconsciously affect the overall impression of the applicant and may in fact impact the decision making process. Whenever I get that question I know it leaves a bad taste in my mouth and lowers my impression of the interviewer and the program, I can only guess that it would work the other way as well.
     
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  23. Sugar72

    Sugar72 Senior Member
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    I've got a 2 year old daughter and I always offer up that info freely. I want to live someplace that has fairly good schools. I would like to match at a program that has other moms in it so I can have peers that have some of the similar experiences. If a program is worried that I won't be able to do the work even though I navigated my way through medical school rather successfully - then they aren't the program for me.
    That being said i did interview at a program where I am 90% sure the chair was trying to ask me if I was a lesbian....I found that a little unnerving! So i guess there are a spectrum of illegal questions and just because one illegal question doesn't bother me - doesn't mean it won't bother the next applicant.
     
  24. aredoubleyou

    aredoubleyou Senior Member
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    Did your band release on KillRockStars, or what?? (sorry, a little, perhaps tasteless, punk rock humor) - what kinda questions did he ask?? (Don't have to asnwer, especially w/ half of these people reading this forum). Awesome accomplishment on the mom and med school thing though.
     
  25. Sugar72

    Sugar72 Senior Member
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    thanks i sent you a pm
     
  26. ear-ache

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    Sorry to resurrect this thread... I hope Iron and any other PD are still listening in.

    Here are some comments from BKN, an EM PD who posts frequently on the "general residency issues" forum, concerning post-interview letters/calls/emails from PDs. I really like his ideas.

    http://forums.studentdoctor.net/showthread.php?t=253143

    I bring this to your attention only because I've started having flash-backs to middle school with this whole post-interview process. Where the line between letting someone know you like them and stalking them is dangerously thin.

    "No I wasn't stalking her officer. I was just letting her know I liked her by sending hand written notes, emails, and voice messages. I never heard back from her so I knocked on her door when I knew she would be home (at 3 am) to see if she had gotten my messages."
     
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  27. DrDre'

    DrDre' Senior Member
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    Ear,
    Thanks for illustrating so well the depth and breadth of our combined pathology! It is amazing what this process does to us.

    My poor wife is nearly as stressed out as I am, as she can't look for a job til March 17!


     
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  28. iron

    iron Member
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    I send (my secretary actually does) a generic email to all applicants after the interview thanking them. I appreciate the effort they've taken to visit us - time, expense, trouble. During the day, I also make a point of saying they can come back and visit or email with questions.

    I have received numerous thank you cards which is a nice gesture from the applicants. I figure the ones that are more interested will write us. But even so, it won't change my rank order. I take applicants at face value. If they interviewed, then they are (or at least were) interested in matching here. If I tried to change our list based on who I thought really wanted to come (e.g. has family in the area, did a rotation here and loves us, has no other better options), I might miss out on better candidates (whatever that means).

    I'm toying with the idea of sending out personalized emails as we get our rank order list done. From our side, we also want applicants to think highly of us. Haven't decided yet whether I will or not. Prob. depends on time constraints and whether you, dear reader, think it will make a difference. Ironic isn't it?
     
  29. ear-ache

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    Yes, it is ironic. And it would appear there are no easy answers for interviewer or interviewee.

    I’ll admit it. I like getting personalized letters/emails from PD. It gives me the sense that I made a positive impression and that I would be a good fit. We all have a desire to go to a place where we feel liked and appreciated. By the same token, if I don’t get any correspondence from a program, I start to wonder if I made a negative impression and if my chances for matching there are nil. However, those letters/emails (or lack thereof) have impacted my ego; they have not impacted my rank list.

    I suspect it is similar for most PD (such as iron). I bet that although it’s nice to get thank you notes, emails, phone calls, singing telegrams, and boxes of steaks (especially from one of your top picks), but I’ll wager it does not change your ranking.

    So if your correspondence (although nice) does not make a difference, and my correspondence does not make a difference, then why do all of this? Is it because we want to be polite and courteous? Do I do it because I know everyone else is doing it and I don’t want to be cut because I did not shout loud enough? If my impressions are correct, then let’s just thank each other on interview day and call a truce on post-interview correspondence in an effort to decrease applicant stress levels and PD’s workload.

    Thank you for listening to the narrow perspective of this rambling fourth year.
     
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  30. DrDre'

    DrDre' Senior Member
    7+ Year Member

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    Iron,

    May I suggest a handout with all faculty, resident and staff email addresses? Most programs tell you how to create an email address but I always forget to write it down. I have spent 60 minutes today looking on web sites and calling coordinators in order to get a bunch of addresses.



    Thanks for the opportunity to make a suggestion, Dre'
     
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  31. BubbleHead

    BubbleHead Senior Member
    5+ Year Member

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    I sent letters to the programs I was most interested in for the match. I've received feedback from half of them before or in response to my letter. It doesn't change my ROL, but it is always nice to hear from programs/PDs.
     

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