Setting up Interviews

Different programs have different ways of assessing applicants and offering interviews. Usually there is an initial flurry after the Dean’s Letter is released and then the rest of the programs send out their offers over the next month. As students who selected interview dates call to cancel, more are released. It is common, therefore, to not hear from a program for some time; this likely means your application is still viable if enough people cancel. By mid-December, the chances of getting called by remaining outstanding programs start getting quite slim.

Because some programs start choosing as soon as possible, it is important to apply to programs the first day you can.

It’s a good idea to have a rough idea of what order and what weeks/months you would like for your interviews so when you get an invitation you can reply quickly to schedule. Once you are offered an interview, make sure you schedule it immediately as options fill up very quickly.

Residency program coordinators are very important people in your residency application experience. They are the people you will e-mail or talk to on the phone to schedule your interview and will likely be the first people to greet you on your interview day. Treat them with the absolute utmost of respect and courtesy.

Order of Interviews

You will undoubtedly hear many theories on the best way to order your interviews. The most important strategy is to schedule interviews at your top choices after you have had at least two interviews at less desirable locations. This way you will be comfortable and familiar with the process of the interview. Also try to group interviews by geographical location so you do not have to visit the same city or area of the country twice. Most programs have set “interview days” (i.e. Tuesdays and Fridays), but there should be enough leeway in their schedule and yours so that you can schedule multiple interviews in one city over the course of a week or 10 days.

If You Have Not Heard From a Program

Consider sending them an email. It never hurts to check in if you think that you should have received an interview offer. If you need to travel and have already received an interview in one city but have not heard from programs in nearby areas, let them know that you’ll be traveling to their area for an interview at a different program and perhaps you could schedule an interview at their program too while you’re in town. If you send an email and do not hear back in 2-3 days, give them a call. Note that these techniques rarely work but also won’t do any harm if you limit yourself to one email plus or minus one call.

Dress for Success

This is a job interview in the medical profession and business attire is the accepted norm. You want to give the appearance of a successful, mature physician, not a medical student who has been up all night studying. You will need to have a suit. Your outfit should be both conservative and comfortable. Make sure you can get it to appear neat, pressed, and clean even after being in suitcase or being worn for 2-3 successive interviews. Be prepared for bad weather - always have an umbrella and overcoat with you.

When selecting an outfit:

  • In general, it is better to be on the conservative side. This is not the time to show your creative or contrary side.
  • Wear simple, comfortable dress shoes that you can walk in easily to tour clinics and hospitals.
  • Men should wear a tie. Choose one that is also conservative and is solid, striped or has a small pattern.
  • Men should have well groomed facial hair or be clean shaven.
  • Make-up for women should be subtle.
  • Avoid strong smelling perfumes or cologne.
  • Keep jewelry tasteful and to a minimum

Coordinating Travel

Make sure that your travel arrangements leave you plenty of time to attend any pre or post-interview social events. If you are driving be sure to leave plenty of time to arrive at your destination and make sure the vehicle you take is in good repair and has been serviced recently. If you are flying, make sure all your belongings fit into a carry-on bag. You do not want your aforementioned, meticulously selected suit to not make it to the interview with you. If you are renting a car, be sure to reserve one ahead of time before you arrive to the airport.

Cancelling Interviews

If you need to cancel an interview, emailing the program coordinator is appropriate when done with advanced notice. Call the program if you’re canceling close to the date or to follow up if you receive no email response. This way the program can give your interview slot to another applicant. IT IS CRTICIAL TO NOT CANCEL AT THE LAST MOMENT. One week before is too close. It not only hurts other applicants and the program but will also put you at jeopardy angering a program director who will speak with other program directors about your lack of consideration.


  • Do respond to the program in a timely manner regarding acceptance/decline of interview or any special events, including pre or post interview dinner.
  • Do contact the program promptly if you need to cancel your interview.


  • Wear khakis, or a sport coat or really anything that is NOT a suit.
  • Don’t cancel your interview less than one week before the interview.