You are all survivors of your medical school entrance interview. Now you must prepare for the next most important interview in your life!
Here are some important considerations in preparing for this:
Remember that the interview begins when you walk in the room: TH FIRST IMPRESSION – how you stand, sit, dress - is essential. Look PROFESSIONAL, CONFIDENT and IN CONTROL.
Be aware of:
- Posture – eliminate distractions
- Appropriate energy (conveyed through gestures, facial expressions and eye contact)
- Speech habits
- Focus – stay focused and convey thoughts and feelings with enthusiasm
- Closing statements
- Don’t twiddle your thumbs; don’t cross your arms.
- Use your hand movements as you would ordinarily and they will “talk” appropriately.
- Use gestures to help you stay focused and avoid distractions:
- compare and contrast statements (on one hand, and on the other)
- numbers or lists can be reinforced by hand gestures
- Keep a pleasant look
- Match your face with what you say
- Look for opportunities to show emotions
- Communicate that you are happy to be there
- Hold gaze with interviewer for 3-5 seconds or until the thought or sentence is completed - this involves the interviewer, shows confidence and interest
- Avoid shifting or darting their eyes, or staring down the interviewer
- Match your word inflection with your body language
- Avoid “padding” with:
- Non-words: um, aah
- Non-working words: well, so, basically
- Connectors: and, but, or
- Instead use:
- Silence or a pause (but don’t overuse it) until the intended word comes to mind
- Use complete sentences
- Tape-record one of your conversations or listen to yourself on the phone
- Make sure your words, voice and body language are congruent to send the intended message.
- Make your voice loud (for emphasis) or soft (for authority) as appropriate
- Keep your head up and avoid mumbling
- Stop talking when the point is made
- You should prepare the close of your interview by thinking about what you plan to say.
- This is the last chance to give the interviewers something to remember.
REMEMBER TO ENGAGE
- Throughout the entire interview, speak about areas you know best or feel passionately about.
- Enthusiasm and interest show in your voice, facial expressions and gestures.
- Try not to be thinking ahead to what you are going to say next – trust your instincts
Prepare as much as you can in advance. If possible ask in advance what the interview will be like and if there is anything in particular for which you should prepare.This pre-interview information may not be available but take advantage if it is. When preparing there are several areas on which to focus. These include your own background, what you will need to bring with you, the training program itself, interview logistics, questions, attire and appearances.
Know Your Own Background
Read and re-read your CV, personal statements and any correspondence you have had with the residency director and staff. Be able to discuss why you want this particular residency at this particular location. Be able to discuss your past experiences in clerkship and any research experience. Be prepared to field questions about how your past experience will be relevant to your experience in their residency program. Be able to discuss your career direction, What you see yourself doing in five to ten years. Prepare an answer to the question “Tell me about yourself”. The answer should have a medical and specialty focus and should not be more than two minutes long.
Know What You Need
Have all relevant papers with you, including copies of your CV, all correspondence, letters of reference (if available) and the names, addresses, and phone numbers of your references (in case they are requested). The program will have received these from CaRMS, but it never hurts to have them just in case and it gives you an opportunity to be familiar with your own material.
Know the Residency and Specialty Area
Know who’s interviewing you, the major characteristics of the residency program, and the primary mission and direction of the site; and of course, be prepared to show how you will fit into the system. Do as much research about the residency program as you can. Advance preparation in this area will help you convince the residency program director that you could fit well into the program and contribute significantly to the program. Knowledge in the specialty area shows that you are current and up-to-date on the latest trends and needs of the field. Don’t ask questions that you should already have been able to find out.
Know where you are going and arrive early. If possible make a trial run the day before. Make sure you are aware of the time commitment for the interview, there may be extra activities involved that will extend the time commitment.If you have booked another interview the same day this will cause a conflict for sure.
Appropriate Attire and Appearance
The generally accepted practice in interviews is to dress to the organization. Overdress rather than “underdress” and tend towards the conservative. Usually, a dark suit for men and women or for women a conservative dress is fine. Hair, makeup and jewelry should be flattering but not distracting. You want to impress the interviewers with who you are, not what you look like.
If you feel nervous about the interview, practice your answers at home, in from of a mirror or video camera. You can contact a mentor or staff member of our office to help you by conducting practice interviews. They can provide valuable feedback about your poise and confidence levels, as well as the content of your answers. The Centre for Career Development on the main campus does have resources for assisting you with interviewing skills. A mock interview workshop will be organized for you in December of your fourth year.
Rehearse, Rest and Relax
Practice answering questions, especially difficult ones. Get plenty of rest the night before and eat well the day of your appointment. Be familiar with relaxation techniques and do whatever you need to do to stay calm before and after the interview. A web site with valuable tips on relaxation techniques is http://wso.williams.edu/peerh/stress/relax.html