Matching to a residency program through the NRMP® (National Resident Matching Program) is a competitive endeavor. Even strong candidates – especially IMGs (international medical graduates) – can have difficulty getting positions in many specialties. Those that do match may not get their top choices, leaving them in suboptimal programs.
Consequently, optimizing your performance during the medical residency interview is critical. But what are residency directors looking for during the interview process?
First, they are seeking someone distinctive. Your goal is to distinguish yourself from all of the other applicants by showcasing your accomplishments. Anyone can say s/he is compassionate or hard working. Fewer candidates can prove it.
Second, they want to ensure you are committed to their specialty and that you have an idea of what you are getting yourself into. Residency is tough; training programs aren’t seeking someone who is ambivalent and might quit. Giving examples of your commitment through successful rotations and research projects can help.
Third, residency programs want to ensure you are reasonable. They want to see that you don’t have a problem personality and aren’t going to cause them embarrassment or extra work.
Fourth, they want to hear that you are particularly interested in their program. You can convince them of your interest by knowing specifics about the residency and city.
One would never take the Boards without practicing first and yet, countless applicants go to interviews without preparing. Consider working with a professional: Because applicants can unknowingly undermine their chances of success with poor interview skills, a qualified, personalized residency admissions consultant provides a great advantage.
Residency consulting companies come in a variety of forms. Some are bigger businesses that focus on admissions to several types of graduate programs – not just medicine. Others are smaller and provide a medical focus, but have a pool of consultants of varying quality. Finally, elite companies offer both the medical focus and a highly experienced consultant who works one-on-one with clients. These professionals are ex-admissions officers from highly respected medical institutions. They have the inside knowledge of how residency admissions work, providing individualized guidance to optimize applicants’ applications and interview skills.
When choosing a residency admissions consulting company, a candidate should verify the company’s references and research its consultants. Elite companies that offer both the medical focus and a highly experienced consultant who works individually with clients offer a large advantage for pre-residency applicants, especially during these competitive times.