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Before the interview itself you need to actually get an invitation. In some fields you'll have no shortage of invitations, but in other fields it is very difficult to get an interview (for example orthopedic surgery, ophthalmology, radiology, etc).

 

There are several secrets that will help you here. First, apply to a lot of programs (this is not the time to be cheap on application fees) including those located in remote places. US grads are many times more spoiled and so they stay away from hospitals that are in the middle of nowhere. Their loss is your gain as there are some excellent programs in these far away places that may well give you an interview. 

Additionally, apply to a mix of programs; some university and some community programs. You should ration this out based on your personal qualifications and scores. If you are a strong candidate apply to many high tier university programs, if not you better a good amount of community programs in your roster. Do not make the mistake of applying only to top programs, which may leave you scrambling despite your 250 score on the USMLE step 1. Also, if you are going for a very competitive specialty, do not hesitate to apply to a less competitive residency as a backup. Again, we have had very qualified people that were left with no position just because they didn't think ahead. Trust me when I say its better to get a second choice then to be left to compromise for something you never wanted at all during the scramble.

 

The other very important resource at your disposal are previous grads from your school. You’ll be surprised how much they help by giving good advice, telling you which programs are FMG/IMG friendly, and maybe even by putting in a good word for you.

 

Most important, never underestimate the power of the program coordinator. They are the ones who screen applications in many programs and transfer them for review to the program director. If you mange to convince them that you can benefit the hospital/program they may well think you deserve to be heard. Be nice to them (as you should be to everyone) as they are the gatekeeper. 

 

Finally, you should be aware that as the interview season winds down to mid/late January various programs get interview cancellations by students who for whatever reason decided not to come to that institution. Again their loss is your gain as towards that time you may be able to get a few more interviews, even at some of the more prestigious places. To do this well you need to show interest in the various programs early. Therefore you should call them before or after thanksgiving to let them know you’re interested. As the interview process winds down to early January keep in touch with the relevant programs and see if you can get a canceled spot. Again, if the program coordinator likes you and believes you’re a serious candidate they will be more likely to grant you an interview. 

 

Of course, if you’re smart you will also keep in touch with places that sent you rejections - if you receive a rejection send an email mentioning you appreciate the program looked at your file and that you’re still interested if the program has cancellations. This may catch the coordinators attention and make her take a more serious look at your file (if you don’t know I can tell you that many times we receive rejections without anyone ever looking at our file -> just because it is a foreign student application. it is what it is…). I got one of my interviews this way...

The Residency Application Secrets

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