The do’s, don’ts and everything in between by Kamran Mirza, MD PhD and Loyola Pathology House staff
With interview season about six weeks away, PathMatch23 applicants are gearing up for these uber-important months ahead. We interviewed leading pathologist Vice-Chair of Education and Academic Affairs and Assistant Dean of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Loyola’s Stritch School of Medicine Dr. Kamran Mirza and a group of his fantastic pathology trainees to get their top tips about residency program interviews.
How can I stay motivated and inspired through interview season?
By: Constantine E. Kanakis, MD MS
A great part of the pathology community is its amazingly strong presence online. For instance, "MedTwitter" and subsequently "PathTwitter" are rich places of social networking, academic exchange, and professional interaction. Staying engaged, motivated, and inspired can be challenging if you're between home institutions. But online, you can meet working, enthusiastic pathologists from all over the world. Engaging them in conversations and collaborating on idea-sharing could possibly make an applicant stand out. While most medical students traditionally "black out" their social media, you may have a chance to weaponize yours—for good, of course. If you're fortunate to be somewhere that can support your interests, connect with the people doing what you want to do! If there are pathology and laboratory medicine researchers, meet them and ask if there's anything you can do to help a project move along—this will most often be welcomed and appreciated! In the latest months of medical school, seek out learning opportunities to supplement your interests in pathology. Seek out surgical oncologists to learn about the clinical aspects of frozen sections, coordinate with subspecialists like endocrinologists to lean into clinical pathology testing, or make sure you schedule dedicated pathology rotations. Regardless of how to stay in tune with the world of pathology, make sure you also remember to take time for yourself. Prepare for your interviews. Take the time to really consider what's important to you in the coming next chapter of your career, and have some fun!
What are interview do’s and don’ts?
By: Jasmine Saleh, MD
○ Be yourself
○ Research the program
○ Review common interview questions
○ Know your application cold and be prepared to discuss it
○ Be respectful to everyone
○ Speak articulately
○ Give thanks and be appreciative
2. Do for a virtual interview
○ Check your internet connection
○ Test the audio and video
○ Use proper lighting
○ Look at the camera
○ Dress inappropriately or wear excessive makeup
○ Be late
○ Be unprepared
○ Be distracted or check your phone during an interview
○ Act disinterested or arrogant
○ Answer what the interviewer wants to hear
○ Be afraid to ask questions. You are interviewing the program as much as they are interviewing you!
4. Don't for a virtual interview
○ Use a silly username
○ Sit too close or too far
○ Turn off your camera
○ Sit in a public place (coffee shop, etc.)
How can I stand out in Zoom interviews?
By: Thanchanok Chaiprasit, MD
Firstly, congratulations on getting the interview! At this point you can rest assured that you are qualified enough for the program based on your credentials. The important part now is how to stand out from the other applicants who are also qualified. This is where your personality and presentation matter most! The program is looking for a candidate that will be pleasant to work with, therefore make sure that you are presenting the best version of yourself. The usual interview advice is applicable here: dress professionally, be polite, be engaged, enunciate, make eye contact, and do your homework so that you already know about the institution and the interviewers. When it comes to Zoom interviews, there are a couple more factors to consider in addition to the basic interview advice.
1. The set up: Make sure that you have proper lighting and high-quality camera for your zoom interview. Invest in the cheap ring light and have the set up ready to go. The background should be clean and extra points if you "prop style" it to include conversation starters. Don't go overboard and put all the awards you have behind you because that can come off as disingenuous.
2. Presentation: Even if the interview is not in person, your camera will be on your face for hours with minimal breaks so be mindful of that. It is easy to be comfortable when video calling from home, but try to be physically engaged the whole time. Don't slouch, make eye contact (look at the camera or right below it), and smile often. If you are tired, excuse yourself and turn off the camera for a quick break.
3. Know how to politely interject and how to transition: Zoom interviews are difficult because there is usually slight lag during conversations. It's ok to sometimes start speaking over another person; don't fret over this "faux pas". Quickly apologize for the interruptions and either 1) offer them to speak first or 2) segue confidently to your point. Confidence is key to doing this smoothly. There's often a time limit on these interviews, therefore sometimes you have to interject to get your main point across. My personal tip is to learn some management buzz phrases to help facilitate the conversations your way.
4. Seek opportunities to showcase yourself: Zoom meetings are under a time limit so don't wait for the perfect chance to talk about your research or hobbies. Create those conversation openings yourself, especially during group sessions when you're with other candidates. Comment on something broad and then relate that back to something unique that you would like to present about yourself. It can feel uncomfortable if you are not an extrovert but keep in mind that if you don't advocate for yourself, nobody else will.
Do you have any top tips for PathMatch23? Just email Kristin at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM us on Twitter for more information on how you can help prepare, motivate and inspire PathMatch applicants around the globe!
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