Amiethab Aiyer, MD | Jonathan Kaplan, MD | Matthew Varacallo, MD
November 25, 2020
Interview season is upon us! Every year, programs across the country start gearing up to welcome applicants in an attempt to find their future residents. Likewise, every year at this time students are finalizing their preparations and planning for the exciting yet somewhat stressful experience that is known as ‘interview season’. It is a time-honored tradition that dates to before many of us had even considered becoming physicians, let alone orthopaedic surgeons.
However, this year will look very different than any years prior. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, interviews have been transitioned to the ‘virtual office’ and with that comes new challenges. Here are the “Top 5 Pearls for Virtual Interviewing”.
While it goes without saying, we will say it anyways. Professionalism remains an integral factor in the success of any interview, especially a virtual one. Of course, you will want to be respectful and portray the professionalism that you’ve already mastered in becoming a physician, but there are some things you may not readily think of. Still, plan on dressing professionally, and despite being enticed to wearing the ‘Zoom Suit’ of professional top but pajamas on the bottom, make sure you wear a full professional outfit head to toe. You never know if a program will do an ice breaker in which case everyone stands and does a yoga stretch to relax the applicant… but they’ll notice if you have pajama bottoms on!
We often practice for our in-person interviews, so why treat the virtual one any different? Practicing for the interview is likely even more important as there are added hurdles with a virtual interview, such as getting comfortable speaking into a screen, timing of talking/listening, and overcoming other factors related to being unable to talk to someone sitting directly in front of you. Additionally, just like in-person interviews, be sure to practice going over your application, as you want to sound knowledgeable about yourself without sounding robotic. Do as many mock interviews as you can, in an effort to simulate the interview day and how you handle various questions. Seek out feedback from these sessions to make adjustments and improve your performance. Another important consideration is to practice with the interview software being used at a given institution; not every program is using the same platform, so it’s even more important to be as technically familiar with the layout as possible to minimize real-time glitches!
Certainly, there are factors out of our control, but it is ideal to ensure you are in an environment that allows you to succeed. This means you want to be in a quiet, well-lit room. Make sure you have a strong internet connection and consider temporarily disconnecting other devices that may slow this down (smart TV, phones / tablets, etc). Also, if you live with family or friends, be sure to emphasize to them the importance of your interviews and give them a schedule of your interviews so they know to give you the privacy you need to be successful. Your school may also have rooms that you can use to optimize your surroundings during the interview, so be sure to check them out.
Similar to in person interviews, you want to be considerate of your non-verbal cues as these can affect how an interview goes. This is especially important in a virtual interview where they’ll be assessing everything available to them. Building off the environment discussion above, you’ll want to have a comfortable chair that allows you to sit for an extended period of time without fidgeting or shifting around a lot (but again professional, so no bean bags chairs). Remember to smile and while it may not be the same as in person, try to maintain good eye contact by looking into the camera as opposed to staring off screen or elsewhere. Again, spend the time practicing these facets of the interview process, so things can run as smoothly as possible
It is a common theme here; the virtual interview shouldn’t differ ‘that much’ from the in-person one. Yes, you will have to be a bit more creative to let your personality shine through the virtual barrier, but you should still rely on your personality strengths to engage with the programs.
We know this goes without saying, but try to have fun! This is a new experience for everyone involved including applicants and programs. Please let us know if you have more questions!
DISCLOSURES: Dr. Aiyer American Orthopaedic Foot and Ankle Society: Board or committee member, Delee & Drez Orthopaedic Sports Medicine (Elsevier): Publishing royalties, financial or material support, Medline: Paid consultant, Medshape: Paid consultant, Miller’s Review of Orthopaedics (Elsevier): Publishing royalties, financial or material support Dr. Kaplan Medline: Paid consultant, Wright Medical Technology, Inc.: Paid consultant Dr. Varacallo This individual reported nothing to disclose.
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