Are you considering using residency interview preparation services? You're not the only one, and we can understand why. Residency program directors have reported that residency interviews are a critical factor when it comes to resident selection. Meaning that if you are called for an ERAS or CaRMS interview, you need to be prepared so that you can make a good impression and maximize your chances of matching with the residency program of your choice. In this blog, we’ll tell you more about how much weight residency interviews carry, and we’ll talk about the different ways in which residency interview preparations services can help you ace this part of the residency matching process.
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How important are residency interviews?
In one word: Very! If you've been selected for residency interviews, it means that the program directors like who you are on paper, and you've moved on to the next round in their selection process. Now, they want to understand your personality better and assess noncognitive factors like your communication skills and professionalism.
A common mistake that applicants make is assuming that the residency interview is just like any other normal, professional conversation. It is important to remember that your interview is similar to an audition in some ways. The interviewer wants to get to know you, but only so that they can determine if you are a good fit for their program. Furthermore, they will be comparing you to the other candidates who have applied to the program.
As crucial as application components like your residency personal statement are, they've already done their job by the time you get to the interview stage. Think of it this way, let’s assume that a given residency program has ten spots available, but it received 2 000 residency applications. Of those 2 000, they may decide to interview one or two hundred applicants. So, they will review the different documents you submitted, like your letter of recommendation, residency CV, and so on. This will help them narrow down their list to the 200 qualified applicants who will get called for interviews, and your interview performance will help them narrow down their list further until they rank the candidates that they are interested in.
Do you still have questions about the residency matching process? This video can help:
We looked at the latest data from the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), and it shows that your interview performance plays a significant role in the residency programs' selection process. For example, 98% of programs rank communication skills as one of the most important factors when ranking applicants. A skill that you can only demonstrate during an interview. Furthermore, 94% of programs revealed that applicants' interactions with staff and faculty on interview days are a key influencer of their ranking decisions. In other words, when it comes to ranking, your interview is a more influential factor than USMLE scores, COMLEX scores, extracurriculars, MSPE, and other application components.
How do residency interview preparation services help applicants?
Residency interview preparation services are essentially a form of interview coaching specifically designed for residency candidates. It is usually offered by medical school consultants, sometimes as one separate service or as part of a comprehensive residency application package. Different preparation services offer various services, but usually, you can expect that the preparation will include mock interviews and coaching or feedback sessions. While it may sound simple, these interview preparation services can make a huge difference in applicants’ interview performance. Interview preparation services help residency applicants by helping them with the following:
1. Understanding proper interview etiquette
Residency interviews are about more than what you say. We’re not saying that what you say isn’t important, because it is, but you should know that the interviewer will also be assessing other things. The interview is their chance to see how you interact with other people, how you carry yourself in a conversation, and how well behaved you are. Ultimately, they are trying to gauge how well you would fit in with your potential colleagues and whether you possess the communication and interpersonal skills expected of future resident doctors.
Good interview preparation services will review proper interview etiquette with you and provide you with tips and strategies to help you address any issues. For example, you might have strong answers to most questions, but you say “uhm” a lot while answering questions or fidget constantly. These are non-verbal cues that might lead the interviewer to think that you are not confident. Interview preparation services can share some techniques to help you improve your delivery.
2. Identifying applicants' strengths and weaknesses
Good residency interview preparation services will take some time to find out more about you. They might do it through an initial mock interview where they ask you about your background, or they might look at your residency application in general. In the end, they will have some information about who you are and what you’re applying for, which means that they can help you identify the skills and experiences that you need to highlight in order to stand out.
Furthermore, interviews are about selling yourself. Sometimes in order to do that, you need to address some of the weaker areas of your application. For example, maybe your grades weren’t the best in undergrad, and even though you managed to get into grad school with a low GPA, it took you some time to get your bearings and your transcript reflects that. That’s something that can come up in your residency interview and you want to be able to address it in a way that shows that you are capable of mature self-reflection, and growth. That is not an easy task. It is the same reason why tackling the strengths and weaknesses residency interview question can be tricky. Interview preparation consultants can give you tips and strategies for structuring your answers to these tricky questions in a way that still portrays you in a positive light.
3. Structuring stronger answers
This is one of the key components of good residency interview preparation services. Students often fall into the trap of thinking that they don’t need to prepare their answers in advance but working with interview preparation services will help you understand why you need to. We’re not saying that you should write down your answers to common questions in advance and memorize them because that would be counterproductive.
Instead, you should have an idea of the general structure that you want your answer to follow and what you want it to highlight. This helps keep you on track and reduces the likelihood of you either leaving out pertinent information or including irrelevant details in your answers. Residency interview preparation consultants can give you strategies that will result in stronger, more concise, and compelling answers.
How much do residency interview preparation services cost?
The cost can vary greatly depending on the fee structure of the company or individual you hire, the services you need, how long you have to prepare, and so on. Some places charge by the hour or by service rendered. Many of them have a package deal that involves different parts of the entire residency matching process, including applications and interviews. On average, you should expect to spend between $150 and $200 per hour. Alternatively, comprehensive packages can cost anywhere from $300 to over $5000, depending on your needs.
We know that this may sound pricey, but a qualified professional's services cost money! There is just no way around that! What you need to remember is what you are paying for. It would cost a lot more to improve your residency application after going unmatched because of your performance during an interview. Furthermore, many consulting firms can organize private, flexible payment plans to make things easier for you. So, please inquire with the consultants you are considering and work with them to develop a payment plan that works for you.
Check out this infographic for a quick reminder of the different ways in which interview preparation services can help you:
How do you find the right residency interview preparation service?
In order for residency interview prep to work for you, you will need to find a service offered by consultants who are qualified enough to help you through this process and maximize your chances of matching the first time, thus providing the best value for your investment. The right preparation service for you will depend on various factors like your budget, experiences, your location, and so on. That being said, there are a few things that we think you should pay special attention to as you look for a residency interview preparation service. For every preparation service that you consider, ask yourself the following questions:
You must prepare for your interviews well in advance, especially if you are applying for a competitive residency specialty or program. The data has made it clear that residency program directors care very much about your performance in interviews, so if you want to be ranked high on their lists and land that match, you need to bring your A-game to every interview. The best way to make sure of that is to work with residency interview preparation services. They can help you prepare using mock interviews and feedback sessions that will include tips and strategies that will help you in particular! That makes them well worth the cost in this competitive climate. So make sure you ask yourself the questions we listed above and find the right consulting firm for you.
1. How important are residency interviews?
Residency interviews are very important. NRMP data shows that your performance during the interview is very important to residency program directors. So, if you want to be ranked high on their lists, you definitely need to put your best foot forward during the interview.
2. When should I start preparing for residency interviews?
You should start preparing for your residency interviews as soon as you submit your application. Do not wait until you receive an interview invitation to start preparing.
3. What do program directors assess during residency interviews?
Your interview will be listening to your answers so that they can get to know your personality and background, but they will also be assessing your communication skills and professionalism.
4. Why should you prepare for residency interviews well in advance?
Preparing for interviews in advance will not only help you feel more confident, but it can significantly impact your performance in a positive way. For example, by practicing with common sample questions, you reduce the likelihood of being caught off guard during the interview.
5. What do residency interview preparation services help applicants with?
Interview preparation services provide tips and strategies to help applicants do better during interviews. Good prep services tend to do this by conducting mock interviews and providing the applicants with personalized feedback.
6. How much do residency interview prep services cost?
The cost varies depending on the services that you need, and the company that you’re working with. On average, the hourly cost is around $150, but most prep services have comprehensive programs that provide more value for your money.
7. What should I look for in a residency interview preparation service?
You should look for a residency interview prep service that is student-centered, has qualified consultants and good independent reviews.
8. Do residency interview preparation services help with other application components?
Some consultants only offer interview preparation services, while others provide this service and many more. We recommend working with a firm or consultant who also handles other application components as well. They will have a better understanding of your journey from high school to medical school and how important this step is for you.
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