And more interview tips

Since the interview season is here again, here are a few more interview tips:

  • Enter the interview room believing that you are to be chosen. The interview is your opportunity to know the people whom you will work with.
  • Smile and be pleasant.
  • Don’t offer to shake hands unless they the person interviewing you offers his/her hand first.
  • Sit only when you are asked to do so. Ask where to sit if there is more that one chair. Do not assume which chair is yours. Wait for them to sit first.
  • Sit confidently with a straight back. Don’t cross your legs.
  • If a drink is offered apologize politely. You don’t want the tremor to be noticed!
  • Answer the questions clearly.
  • It is ok if you couldn’t understand or hear the question. Just ask politely for the question to be repeated or to be explained more.
  • Your aim from the interview is to look smart, friendly,  hard working and enthusiastic about the program. Being a social person is very important to emphasize because it is very important for the program to get residents who are easy to work with.
  • Eye contact: very important. Work on it. It is not like daily life where it is ok to keep the eye contact >50% of the time. You should keep it 100% of the time, even when you are thinking. Practice that because it is not easy.
  • What to do if your answer is not ready: keep smiling, keep the eye contact, take your time and give a diplomatic answer slowly and clearly.
  • Always introduce yourself by your first name

You have to make a list of all the possible questions and answer them all, completely, before the interview. I’m trying to provide most of the questions that I know about here:

Tell us about yourself.

Why did you choose this program?

Enthusiastically elaborate the strong points in the program. Their web site will be of great help. Also say the good things about the city. If you have a family in the same place, mention it.

Why did you choose this specialty?

Why should we choose you? Or what will you add to this program?

How do you see your self in 5, 10, 15 years?

How will you cope with being away from your country for a long time?

What do you do in your free time?

Prepare 2-3 detailed stories about:

-A patient (case) that you learned something from.

-An error that you made, how did you deal with the blame and what did you learn from it all.

Be ready to answer some ethics questions: for example about patient confidentiality and information disclosure. Make sure to read a little about that before the interview.

Be prepared to answer some simple clinical knowledge questions: mainly emergencies. Not all interviewers ask that sort of question, but some do.

Make sure that you can talk about EVERYTHING mentioned in your CV or personal statement.

You might be asked about attitude toward your colleagues as clinical scenarios, for example a team which is not going along properly, a colleague who is not doing his job. Give brief answers emphasizing the following, in your own style and words: counseling and discussion, or a simple chat. Offering help and asking for help if you yourself need some. You might want to give vague life principles to illustrate your point of view.

What aspects of your personality would you like to improve? (or tell us about your weak points?)

The safest answer is a one that answers with a strong point made to look as a weak one.

Ask questions:

This is so important. Ask smart ones. However, make sure to avoid any questions that might show you as somebody who wants to relax and not a hard worker. Questions to avoid include questions about the frequency of on-call duties, average patient/resident load, pass rate…etc. These questions should only be asked to your close friends, but not to anybody in the interview panel or the resident who is taking you in a tour around the hospital.

You might want to mention that you checked the web site of the program and would like to get more information about something in particular. This leaves a good impression.

Suggested things to ask about:

  • Are research opportunities available? Is there a protected time for research?
  • Does the program arrange any social events for the residents?
  • Is there any meeting that is held within the coming few days that I can attend? E.g Academic half-day. If you already know about a specific meeting from the website or from another resident mention that you would like to attend that specific meeting. But one small warning: if you said you’ll attend, then you have to attend, whatever it takes. So make sure it fits your travel plans.

After the interview:

  • Send thank you letters by email to all the people who interviewed you, within 24 hours. Mention your thanks for the interviewer and your enthusiasm for joining the program. If you are sending thank you letters to more than one person then make them different.
  • When you receive the offer letter,  send a thank you to the secretary informing her about receiving it. Make sure to note the deadline for you accepting/declining the offer. Make sure to take your time to think but not to miss the deadline.

Good luck everyone.


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