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Scheduling Interviews

You’ll most probably start getting your interview calls in Ocotober/ November. However, you will also most probably continue to get more interview calls while you are roaming around in the USA. There are many reasons for this, e.g. some programs will wait for your Step 2 result before they invite you, some wait till the end of their deadline for application, some are just plain lazy – some will even call you as back ups in case their spots don’t get filled by US graduates. Surprised? Some programs are willing to take someone they don’t really want in order to diminish the risk of having unmatched positions. It makes them look bad statistically. Anyway, expect to be invited. So, keep checking your email at every possible opportunity.

When a program invites you, they usually give you a list of dates on which you can interview. These will usually range between November and January. Now how do you choose your interview dates? Multiple factors come into play:

Geographical location is a great way to arrange your interviews. Print out a map of the USA and chart out the distances. This way, travel time is shorter and hence less tiring. Nearing the end of interview season, this may turn out to be your primary criteria for deciding on whether you really want to interview somewhere. Ideally speaking, you should arrange all you interviews geographically so as to maximize the number of interviews which you can manage. Normally, if you interview on Tuesday and leave the city on Tuesday evening by Greyhound, chances are that you will reach the next city of interview on Wednesday morning or very late on Tuesday night. In both situations, one would not interview on Wednesday. So, the next possible interview day can be no earlier than Thursday. So for all practical purposes, one usually does about two interviews per week (or three if one is very efficient). On the other hand, if the spots in the same city, you can actually manage interviews on consecutive days. And of course, it will save you the hassle of actually having to return to a city. Greyhounds occasionally break down, or, get stuck in snowstorms. So, if you are crossing cities, leave a day’s gap. Another tip would be to cover longer distances over the weekends. That way you have plenty of time to recuperate. You do not want to exhaust yourself.

Although, geographical planning is ideal, it does not always work very neatly. This is simply because you keep getting new interview calls, which have to be fitted in whatever slots are available to both you and the program. After a while, you will have no choice but to place an interview right in the middle of a perfect plan. Sometimes rescheduling works. Sometimes it doesn’t. So, be prepared to face sudden changes of plan and long unexpected bus trips.

As a general rule, schedule your interviews early. DO NOT schedule any of your first few interviews in January. Fit them in November and December as best as you can (again, geographically speaking). Save January up for the interview calls that you get while you are in the USA. Fill up early spots. It is far easier to push interviews forward as opposed to pulling them back.

Another point of notice. Although you will start the interview trail with immense enthusiasm, your excitement will dwindle with time. After the first seven or eight interviews, it will become extremely monotonous – another greyhound station, another bus ride, another hotel stay, the same questions to be asked, the same question to be answered. All the hospitals will look the same. You will not even enjoy the free food!!! And it gets worse after Christmas break. After living outside the interview trail for a week or two, your feet feel like lead. A lot of US graduates cancel a lot of interviews in January (and that is another reason to keep January free for later interview calls). Again, the moral of the story is interview early.

Last, but not even remotely least, try to schedule some really horrible programs as the first two or three interviews. Places where you would never want to go. Use these as an opportunity to get into the flow of interviewing. To learn the mechanics of what they expect from you and what you should expect from them. You will notice that all interviews follow similar formats. Following these rehearsal interviews, schedule the interviews which you would love to go to. This way, you can give them while you are still enthusiastic. And the faculty of the program goes out of its way to look for enthusiasm.

Another perspective regarding interviewing has been given below:
“Interview late. I mean December and January. If you have applied early you will be able to cluster it well that way. Also you will see the worst of the weather at the place you may have to live in..... also at that point you will be judged fairly since some interviews have already happened and people have stopped expecting a super hero as an applicant...if you are one then it would be to your advantage!”

Note: This article has been derived from "Roadmap to Residency" authored by AKU graduates, with permission from few of the authors. Name of the original author, has purposely not been mentioned on request of one of the authors, for privacy reasons. If you are the original author of this article and want your name to be mentioned or wish this article to be modified/ removed from this website, please contact us and we would be more than happy to entertain your request. We fully respect your privacy, acknowledge your efforts put in authoring this article and appreciate your hard work involved in it.

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