How do I navigate the process after interviews?
It’s nice to send a polite email or note after an interview, but make sure you customize it. Never forget that there is a large game component to this residency application stuff… The residency programs know that you’re applying to more than just their school. Don’t say anything that you know is untrue. Your integrity is important! Once you’ve submitted your list, you will just have to sit back and wait until Match day… This will be difficult because you no longer have any control over the situation. Trust that whatever happens is for the best and that things will all work out the way they’re supposed to.
Send genuine communication (email) of appreciation
After your interview, you’re probably wondering whether you should follow up with either an email or a hand-written note. It is good practice to follow up with one or the other, but just realize that interviewers are likely to be bombarded with such notes and that the note itself isn’t likely to be a high-yield action. If you do decide to follow up, an email is most likely fine. You can still send written notes, but this isn’t as common with technology these days.
In writing the notes or email, do NOT send form letters… Readers know when they are receiving spam. Take the time to customize the note. The note doesn’t have to be long, but express something authentic about the program that you are interested in or something you had discussed of common interest during the interview. There is a game component to all of this interviewing stuff… You’re both playing it to some degree.
There is a game component…
Residency programs know that medical students are applying to more programs than they used to… Medical students are trying to keep as many options open as they can. At the same time, residency programs are trying to determine your true interest in them… Just as you may send them thank you notes after your interviews, they may send you communication as well. Why might they send you this communication? Should you take the communication at face value? Might they be sincere? Perhaps… There’s a game component to this process and they are playing that game just as you are… So make sure your communications remain poised and professional during the entire time of the process because you always want to be honorable and follow proper professional behavior…
…But it’s not all about the game
Even though there’s a game component, there is still etiquette of professional behavior. For example, should you tell multiple programs that they are your first choice? There may be a temptation to do this, but you should avoid saying anything that you know is untrue. Not only is maintaining your integrity important on its own, the community in your specialty is small… People know each other and they talk to each other. What is the type of person you want to be known for? Yes, there is a game component to this, but it’s important to play it honorably. You can choose to reveal what you want. You don’t have to reveal everything, but what you reveal, and what you say should be true. You always must be graceful and honorable because at the end of the day YOU will have to look at yourself in the mirror every morning.
Have the grace to accept things that are outside of control (including not matching)
In the end, you submit your match list. It’s probably unlike any other process you’ve been involved with… You’re used to having control over your destiny. You don’t have any control over this once you’ve submitted it… There’s a “letting go” at this stage because things exist outside of your control. Thinking more about it won’t help. Whatever happens will happen on your journey. Know that you have the courage within you to handle what comes next. Trust that whatever happens is for the best.