I received an urgent request from an applicant last week. He wanted to discuss a pre-match offer he had received that had a Friday deadline. The pre-match program was an academic institution, which was appealing, but the interview day had left the applicant underwhelmed for a number of reasons.
On the one hand, this offer was a sure thing. On the other, the applicant had noted what he considered to be red flags. He asked me what to do.
As usual, in life there is no right answer. But here are a few suggestions if offered a pre-match:
1. Ask for more time. In the worst case scenario, the program director says no. Nothing lost.
2. Try to move up any interviews you have not yet attended.
3. Contact the other program directors and let them know you have a pre-match offer and give them the deadline date. They may offer you a pre-match in return. Or – on the contrary – they may let you know they are not interested. Either would be helpful in making your decision.
4. Speak to residents who are at the pre-match program. Trainees will often readily tell you the weaknesses of their institution . This information will help you make an informed decision.
5. Assess a) your risk-taking comfort zone and b) the strength of your candidacy. This step is probably the hardest, yet most important.
In the end, the applicant did not accept the pre-match offer and is crossing his fingers he’ll end up at another program he likes better. He is so relieved that – with the information he has now – the decision seems to have been the right one for him.