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Hot on the Interview Trail

Colin_son_144x144Colin Son -- I have my first interview for residency coming up.

The program where I’m doing an away rotation is going to interview me while I’m here. There are reasons to not want to do an interview while you’re actually on a rotation. For instance, when I make an ass of myself, I won’t be able to hop on a plane and never see those attendings again. Instead I have to stick around and take call with them.

In seriousness though, interviewing while on a sub-I sets you apart from the other interviewees. That has some potential benefits and some potential pitfalls.

The benefits include the fact that this is good place to be starting my interview trail. Pending a few beers, interviews can stir a few nerves for most, including myself. The good thing is I’ll probably be more comfortable starting on interviews here than anywhere else. I have enjoyed myself on this rotation and I am interested in this program, so there is something at stake. I’m also, however, comfortable with the attendings I’ll be interviewing with. It certainly is more than a "practice" interview, but it is nice to have some familiarity and camaraderie with those who will be pitching questions to me.

I might need that for my first residency interview. On my first interview for medical school, I got the following question:

“What is your biggest strength?”

“Well, I think I’m pretty decisive. I’m pretty quick on my feet.”

The next question was obvious:

“What is your biggest weakness?”

An awkward ten second silence followed which prompted the interviewer to comment:

“Let’s just move on.”

Quick on my feet like a fox. I had composed and practiced an answer to that obvious question but in that moment of stress I could not, for the life of me, remember it.

It’s hard to defend myself as a skilled conversationalist and interviewee after revealing that gaffe, but I’ll try. It just takes me some warm-up laps. I promise that I did get better (much better) on the interview trail as my medical school interviews went on.

One thing I always have to work on before I head into the interview are what questions I’m going to ask the interviewer when I get my chance. Often, especially in a situation like this where I’ve gotten to know the program for the past three weeks, I feel like asking nothing. But that is obviously poor form.

If I draw an interview with a female attending, I’m thinking:

“What are you doing this Saturday night?”

I’m also thinking about some questions I may get. Such as,

“Who are your role models?”

The answer is obvious,

“Gregory House…MD”

Personally I can’t wait until I’m actually "pimped" during an interview. Maybe they’ll show me some MRIs and I can pretend I’m taking a Rorschach test.

“I see a monkey drinking a beer,” I’ll say. “Or maybe a sagittal MRI of the brain showing a small posterior fossa and tonsilar herniation below the foramen, indicative of a Chiari malformation. We also see associated agenesis of the corpus callosum.”

Or maybe I’ll be asked to actually tie a suture while answering questions. The end result:


A beautiful bow tie, which I’m pretty sure is how you throw a surgeon’s knot.

When they ask me what my talents are, I’ll tell them MS Paint and offer to email them a portfolio of my work. That should move me up the program's rank list.

Taking a step back and a deep breath, I attribute my goofiness to nerves (and caffeine), and I’m really just using this post to get it out now before I actually hit the interview trail. Wish me luck and that I avoid all of the above as I head off for interviews.

October 22, 2008 in Colin Son | Permalink


I wouldn't worry about your upcoming interviews. This is not your interview session for medical school. Before medical school, they want to weed out... for residency, they are looking for the best match. Most programs are not doing the tricks they did for medical school applicants. Yes, it's a little more competitive for some specialties, but they will also look at what you have done in the last 3+ yrs, not just what you do during your one (2, 10...) interview with that program. Good luck!

Posted by: | Oct 25, 2008 2:51:04 PM

All the best Colin!!!

Posted by: | Oct 28, 2008 3:11:37 PM

Your hilarious! Your humor will go a long way. God's speed to you and the interviews.

Posted by: | Oct 28, 2008 4:48:53 PM

Pretty funny entry. And good luck!

Posted by: Lidija | Oct 29, 2008 9:13:35 AM

wow... house is MY role model too!!! haha I'm sure you will do great! I actually have an interview coming up, too, and this relieved me a bit to know that other people are in the same boat as me. Thanks!

Posted by: marisisia | Oct 29, 2008 2:44:53 PM

Cool!!! Good Luck :)

Posted by: Scalpel | Oct 29, 2008 11:23:39 PM

Hi! I'm a 5th year medical student in Bogota, Colombia, and I plan to do the MATCH within the next 2 years.

Let me know how it goes! I really need to know how an interview for residency is.

Even better if u could tell me what are u appyling for and where?

Good Luck!

Posted by: Diego Nova | Oct 30, 2008 3:56:04 PM


Posted by: | Nov 5, 2008 11:37:39 AM

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