After successfully interviewing at both IMG friendly and Non -IMG friendly programs, with about 13-15 interviewers: chiefs, 3rd years, PDs, associate PDs, and attendings, I can only say one thing:
They are all usual doctors! They don’t need any rehearsed speech. You just need to have enough personality, charisma, and excitement to keep a conversation with a stranger who can become your mentor and colleague.
Only thing I would make sure before the interview, is to have your short story ready: who are you, where are you from, what did you do in your previous life and what you are striving to do in next several years.
Be prepared for the questions that you have to yourself and that you know is a question in your CV. Have enough questions ready for everyone – everybody asks same questions, listen to same answers; but you’ll be amazed how many times you will be asked if you have any questions, no matter even if you ask the simplest thing to a resident: “Would you choose this program again?” he/she will start a long conversation and say whatever he/she wants to say, they want to share and show their hospital, their experience, so just let them speak. “Tell me more about this floor, about the nurses, about your routine day… etc… just ask ask ask questions.
Be yourself, this sounds cheesy but there is no better way of making genuine connection; be totally honest, extrovert, funny, make jokes, make them smile; no need to be anecdotal just make a flow in the conversation, I even presented case on the morning sign-outs, and answered qs that interns could not. Just be free, not stupidly self-confident but show them that you can make a wonderful symbiosis with American graduates, American doctors, that you appreciate their path, which is not easy at all… that you are here not as an enemy, that you will bring something to them.. that they will be fortunate to have you there. Be very honest, honesty is the key, tell them how you learned from the obstacles in your career and how “YOU MADE MOST OUT OF IT”; that you are coachable; that you are a good listener – self-sacrificing team member, and just simply a wonderful person to work with.
I search and read a lot of IV notes i.e. answers to specific questions but mostly I think you should just write your thoughts about yourself just like a personal statement and the phrases, ideas, inputs that you have in your statement; They may not even have taken a glance at your application, so even if you might have to repeat yourself do it.
If PD is an IMG tell them your story and mention that you and other foreign grads all have similar stories, verbalize your thoughts your concerns in a positive thoughtful way.
Talk about your kids, your family, parents especially if you are from a doctor’s family. Whoever scared us not to mention that we are from a family of doctors was very, very wrong. This is your background – this is in your blood… they like it.
They will be the ones who will have a simple conversation with you on simple topics; for some of them, it is just an obligation to interview you as for you to be interviewed there.
Regarding pre-interview social dinners with residents and faculty: do not believe those who say residents are spies of PD. They all are one family, you should be afraid of them if you are a cheater, betrayer, or you wanna bring something bad to that family. Otherwise, they will just welcome you with whole heart. Use the moment and show them your personality. You can ask about housing, where they live, what do they do together or separately, you will get a sense if there is too much drama in the program and if residents get along together, because there is no one more important for your successful training and peace of mind than your co and senior residents.
Tell everyone the things that you usually desperately tell and chat with your closest friends, the moment when you desperately try to let them know the reasons why you deserve to match, why you are a good applicant, why you are not worse than others, even though you have this and that problem, but you can still make it.. I’m sure you all have those moments.
If you can keep an open and interesting conversation you will be surprised by the different types of interviewers you will encounter and what they will tell you. If you are honest they will be even more honest, and at the end, they will say they enjoyed time interviewing you. On my most recent job interview the service director, a very pleasant female told me: “look at you.. you are in such comfort and peace with yourself, it is such a pleasure spending 5 minutes with you…”
Be simply a person, a kind human, no matter what specialty, what type of interview, what is your medical knowledge, how many years graduate you are; if you are intellectually attractive to them, and if you are there with your mind and soul and have passion to medicine and really love to take care of patients, they will feel it and you can leave better impression than any other applicant who might look much better than you on paper.
I felt very sad when I saw how self-assured and artificially obliged some foreign country nationality AMGs acted on the interview, those who have done rotations in that program and knew everyone. Take every interview as your single chance, as at the end of the day, you need one interview to find your perfect match.
When I honestly stated: “Thank you for having me here on the interview, I know this is not the place where a lot of IMGs are invited”… I received an answer: “Yes you are right, but your case was unique”… and yes, I did speak about Stalin with PD… I did discuss Led Zeppelin Albums with associate PD and later we exchanged pictures of that album cover building from NYC…
If you are scared of sharing your life, thoughts, and emotions with people you do not know, then work on it.
A lot of my friends tell me not to even try for lay people to understand the path that we are going on… no one understands why do we even go on interviews and why is it so important and when you come back from the interview: why you are not starting to work there if they liked you that much; but believe me, the effort I am putting to make them understand what’s going on and all the words and phrases I am using during those conversations are the ones that come to my mind during the interviews.
There is much more to say and add to this experience from my match 2015; I have some really nice notes, collections of some other notes – a lot of questions, which I try to read even on the way in taxi, because you really never have any question in your mind once you are in there. If you want to read them PM me. they are personal indeed but believe me, I read interviews for any specialty from any person, any notes, any sentences, any ideas, thoughts echoed in words are very helpful, because in the end of the day it comes down to how interesting your two phrases are and how much energy and excitement you have left once all the interviewees are starting complaining about how their heels hurt their legs and how hungry they are when you haven’t even taken a piece of candy.