Residency interview season: One of the most fun, yet stressful times in medical school. Here are a few suggestions to make the experience enjoyable and excel in interviews. This is a short series of posts hoping to help from the scheduling process all the way through the match. See all the posts in the series here:
- Residency Interview Tips and Tricks: Scheduling
- Residency Interview Tricks and Tips: The Dinner
- Residency Interview Tips and Tricks: The Interview Day
The Best Restaurant I was invited to:
Unlike medical school interviews, which are designed for schools interview you among many hundreds to thousands of applicants, during residency interviews the tables have evened quite a bit. In many ways, residencies are trying to impress you every bit as much as you are trying to impress them. They may also invite a much smaller number of applicants to interview – often less than 100. Because of this, once you get out of highly desirable cities on the East/West Coasts, the perks offered to interview at programs start going up rapidly. Because I interviewed mostly Midwest to South/East (think Illinois/Indiana through Ohio/Tenn/Kentucky to Carolinas/Florida), many programs were happy to offer semi-extravagant interview experiences. Some of interview perks I received included frequent paid for upscale hotel rooms (sometimes even full suites), excellent dinners, local candy/goods, mileage reimbursement, and even once a limo tour of the interview city. Many programs really want to make an impression and they aren’t afraid to spend money to accomplish that. If you are a particularly strong applicant, the whole experience can feel like going through fraternity/sorority rush or suddenly becoming a sought after free agent – they want you to join their team!
One pre-interview dinner in particular 4 years later still stands out in my mind for the absolute ridiculousness of what was spent on me that night. To start I was interviewing for a private hospital preliminary medicine year, of which they didn’t give out a large number of interviews. That particular night there were only 2 applicants scheduled to be at dinner and the other person couldn’t make it last-minute – leaving just me with a resident and his wife as the guests that night. The dinner was at a very extravagant “club” – basically a membership only restaurant which overlooked the Ohio river and downtown Cincinnati skyline from the Kentucky side. With wall to wall windows on the 17th floor, the view at night was spectacular. Dress code was business casual minimum in the strictest of definition, and certain dinning rooms were formal jacket only.
Before we had been given menus, the resident was quick to express that the program was happy to allow us to spend whatever we wanted, and with just three of us, we should enjoy the luck to be a smaller group. Thus, following his lead, my ordering went something like this:
- Appetizer: Shrimp cocktail – $18
- Salad: House Caesar – $12
- Dinner: Rack of lamb – $36
- Alcohol with dinner: 2 glasses of Cabernet house wine – $18
- Dessert (to go): Crème Brule w/ fresh berries – $7
- After dinner drink: Maker’s 47 bourbon, neat – $15
How do I remember the prices? Well I honestly don’t… but they have an online menu and I do basically remember what I ordered so that’s at least what it would cost today. Either way, it’s an awfully large ticket considering with just the three of us the bill was $300+ for ONE interview candidate.
Did this over-the-top meal lead me to rank this program #1? In a short answer… No. I had 4 transitional year programs ranked above it for my intern year (TY > prelim medicine basically always). BUT of the 3 preliminary medicine programs I ended up ranking – this was definitely my favorite, and the interview experience was a large part of that. Overall, I’d say some of the interview perks I experienced DID influence my choices, though I’d say it wasn’t a huge effect.
What do you think? Did you have any over-the-top interview experiences? Did it change your opinion or rank? Keep the conversation going in the comments below!
(All photos are from the restaurant mentioned)
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