Don’t Let Other People Freak You Out

I started Insider Medical Admissions over a decade ago, so I’ve been in admissions consulting for a while. I’m pretty good at spotting trends. Every year about now I start getting emails from clients saying they’re worried about their lack of (or minimal number of) interview invitations. Yes, even as early as mid-September folks are concerned. They say they have a classmate who says he’s gotten an interview invitation or they read online that others are being contacted with invites.

Sure, it’s possible some people are getting very, very early interview invitations. But, it’s rare and should not affect your confidence. After all, according to Amy Cuddy, whom I’ve referenced before, confidence is the name of the game when it comes to interviews.

So, simply stop checking online and minimize conversations about interviews with others. If you are in the thick of the season and you still haven’t gotten any interviews, then you’ll need to reassess and act. But for now, put in ear plugs. This process is so very stressful; you certainly don’t need to seek out more anxiety-provoking information (and who even knows if it’s accurate anyway!).

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ERAS 2018 Timeline: Don’t Lose the Forest for the Trees

As many of you well know, September 6 was the date that candidates could start applying to ACGME-accredited residency programs (and September 15 will be the date that ACGME-accredited residency programs start receiving applications). I am a big fan of getting your ERAS in on the early side: It demonstrates commitment, and when I was reviewing applications as an Assistant Residency Director, I found my workload was lighter earlier, allowing me more time to spend on those initial applications.

Having said that, do not over focus on an early application such that your written materials are suboptimal. Every year I encounter panicked candidates who want to submit their poorly written documents simply to get them in, shooting themselves in the proverbial foot.

Find a balance. Yes, submitting early is wise, but not at the expense of your candidacy’s success.

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Medical School Interview Questions: How to Handle the Illegal Ones

In the United States, a professional interview is subject to basic legal rules. Specifically, admissions officers should refrain from asking medical school interview questions that are not relevant to the position the interviewee is seeking. Questions about race, religion, sexual orientation, and marital or family status fall into this category.

If you are asked these types of questions, you can simply answer – if it’s not distasteful to you – or respond by addressing the intent of the question without revealing personal information. (“I think you’re asking if my home life will affect my ability to carry out my medical school studies or my clinical duties. I can assure you it won’t, and I’ll complete my full tenure here at your school.”)

If you have the opportunity to give feedback to the institution about your medical school interview questions or experience, you can consider doing so after the interview. When I was interviewing for residency, I was asked by a faculty member if I had a boyfriend. After the interview day, I talked to a faculty mentor at my school who reported the situation to the other institution. The faculty member who asked me the illegal question was no longer permitted to interview.

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Difficult Interview Questions: Learning to Hit a Curveball Out of the Park

You put your heart and soul into your compelling, charismatic personal statement; you showcased your accomplishments and drive to succeed in your activities section; and you demonstrated the endorsement of respected faculty allies in your letters of recommendation. Now your hard work has paid off and helped you get a foot in the door: You’ve been invited to interview at your dream medical school or residency program.

Like the ghost stories we told around a campfire as children, interview horror stories have a certain inexplicable staying power. I can still recall a friend’s recounting of an acquaintance’s experience in an Ivy League faculty member’s office: The acquaintance was asked to open the window, only to find (after sweating bullets for several minutes) that it was nailed shut. This trick was allegedly this professor’s cruel attempt to assess how the interviewee coped with adversity. Some weeks later, I recounted the tale to a mentor, who told me that the same story had made the rounds 20 years earlier. The power of this terrible tale faded once I recognized it for the myth it was. This ability to demystify the medical school or residency interview is crucial to framing it as an opportunity for showcasing your strengths. Read more…

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Women, Make Sure you Practice Before Heading off to your Medical School and Residency Interviews

I found this article about the need for women to be seen as warm in order to be seen as confident troubling, but it’s worth noting the facts so that you can strategize accordingly. Previously, these authors published data that women tended to rate their abilities accurately, while men tended to be overconfident about theirs. All of this is to say, that women (and men!) need to practice interview skills prior to the big day. Growth mindset and power posing are also important concepts to review before you interview.

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About Dr. Michelle Finkel

Dr. Michelle Finkel

Dr. Finkel is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Medical School. On completing her residency at Harvard, she was asked to stay on as faculty at Harvard Medical School and spent five years teaching at the world-renowned Massachusetts General Hospital. She was appointed to the Assistant Residency Director position for the Harvard Affiliated Emergency Medicine Residency where she reviewed countless applications, personal statements and resumes. Read more

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