Interview Lifestyle

Residency Interview Tips for a Virtual Cycle!

Virtual interviews are in full swing for medical school, residency, and fellowship applicants. Here are some tips to make the most of your interviews. Wishing you all the best!

Making a good virtual impression:

In the virtual format, your first impression is not your firm handshake or tailored suit. It will be the quality of your internet, audio, and video! Make sure you are well prepared to stand out. Here are some supplies you may consider for Zoom interviews. Although these are just suggestions, we recognize that many individuals face financial barriers that may limit access to technology:

  1. Audio: Headphones with a microphone (prevents reverb from your computer audio), consider noise reducing microphones to block out any background noise.
  2. Lighting: A bright lamp or ring light placed in front of you so your face is well lit. May consider having it higher than eye level so you are not squinting and looking directly into the bright light.
  3. Video: Webcam with 1080p quality (can consider buying an external webcam which will have much better quality than a laptop webcam).
  4. Reliable internet 
    1. You may check your internet speed by typing “internet speed test” into Google. 
    2. Consider a wifi extender if you must be far away from your main router. It will expand the reach of your internet to parts of the building that may not get good service, and prevents lag for a seamless interview.
    3. Have a backup internet and computer option if things go wrong– can use your phone’s mobile hotspot in case you lose your main wifi connection. Borrowing or using a backup ipad, laptop, or desktop computer can also be helpful if your computer breaks down suddenly.
  5. Background: 
    1. A chair that does NOT swivel (so it’s not distracting).
    2. Put your setup against a white or neutral background (can use removable wallpaper or a blanket if you don’t have this available). 
    3. May also consider an interesting and professional background item like a bookshelf, fun painting, plants, or your favorite photos can make for a great conversation starter and highlight your hobbies! 
    4. If you have your bedroom as a background, make sure it is clean and spotless.
      1. Tape something by your camera to remind you to make eye contact with the camera while speaking.
      2. Download and test the interview platform beforehand (Zoom, WebEx, etc).

Answering Questions: 

Prepare a GREAT answer to each of the following questions:

  1. Tell me about yourself
  2. Why this specialty
  3. Why this school
  4. Strengths and weaknesses
  5. Interesting/challenging patient case
  6. Behavioral: 
    1. Time you failed
    2. a mistake you made
    3. working on teams, being a leader
    4. dealing with a conflict
  7. What do you do for fun?
  8. A short spiel about EVERY activity on your application, what you did, and what you learned from it. 
  9. Be able to talk intelligently about any research including your role, the hypothesis, analyses, results, and conclusion.
  10. Any questions for me?

Staying organized for interview invites!

You will be getting a LOT of emails. 

  1. Make a calendar where you are writing down dates of all interview invites as you schedule them so you can quickly glance if you get a new invitation and so you don’t double book yourself. Can sync your calendars across different platforms (ie Outlook to Gmail/google to iOS).
  2. Have a separate email account just for your interviews that will spam you with notifications so you are very unlikely to miss anything.
  3. Be professional and cordial in all emails that you send to the program coordinator, residents, etc.
  4. Here are all the ways you can get a notification about an interview invite:
    1. Text messages (set up forwarding in gmail to your phone number)
    2. Email notifications (enable notifications on your phone)
    3. Email forwarding to your main/school account
    4. Desktop notifications
  5. Here are the major platforms for scheduling interview invites
    1. Thalamus
    2. ERAS (
    3. Interview Broker
    4. Direct emails from the program coordinator

Best of luck!

By lilianzerihun

Lillian Zerihun is a 4th year medical student at the Columbia Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City. She is Ethiopian-American and grew up all over the East Coast. She is broadly interested in general hospitalist and outpatient practice, global and local health advocacy, health disparities, and academic medicine (including research and mentorship). In her free time, Lillian loves to travel and explore new places, write, drink coffee, and play piano and ukulele!

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