So it's interview season, and I'm spending my night finishing off all these reports on the applicants I thought for those of you already on the trail or about to start would like a fresh-new inside perspective from a Residents point of view on what we look for :
(1) Appearance : Are you appropriately dressed, groomed? If not, do you have a darn good reason? Ie airline lost your luggage.
(2) Can you actually hold a conversation? What this means, are you just sitting there in the back not talking and just going through the routine. Or are you actively engaging in conversation with the rest of the applicants and the Residents. What are you discussing? And most importantly, what is this telling us about you? If you're not talking, we're not learning anything about you and therefore are not going to be enthusiastic about you.
(3) Are you interested in our program? Ask questions! Even if they are mundane, let us sell you the program. It makes it look like you're interested enough in our program to ask about the details that you'll rank us favorably.
(4) Do you seem like you're academically sound? Does this mean board scores, etc? No, I could care less unless there's some other red flag. What this means is your thought process. The way you speak, organize your thoughts and responses. Your pose, demeanor, maturity, etc.
(5) Can I work with you? Do I think you're going to work well with others in the program. Do I think others in the program will work well with you? Can I live with you seeing your face every day for X number of years? So if you failed any of the above, probably not.
Those are the main criterias I look for as I'm with the applicants. Rest assured, I read through your application, and I spend a lot of time reading them.
A little bit about essays. The flowery essays that try to read like poetry or the next great american novel, those give me a headache. If I have X amount of essays to read, I want something that is simple, well-written and will quickly grab my interest. If it's all over the place, or tries too hard to be something it's not, I'm already forming a negative impression.
Personal interests. I ABSOLUTELY want to know what you love outside of medicine. What are your hobbies? Your passion? And I want to hear you TALK to me about them and profess your love for them.
So what are the Resident's input really worth? A lot. We're the ones who are going to have to live with you for X years. After interviews, we spend actually a good amount of time discussing the applications and going over them again with a fine tooth comb. If we find any irregularities, we red-flag the application for another look, further investigation, or just drop the app.
Lesson learned here? When Residents jaunter in, and start talking to you guys and asking for questions, be an ACTIVE participant. The program coordinator is watching carefully to and seeing who is having a good time and who is just sitting in the back.