The “Road to Residency” series is developed by Residency Navigator, the most comprehensive online directory of U.S. residency programs. The program is used by 90% of 4th-year medical students to view program stats, read hand-written reviews from current and former residents, and view ratings on 4,000+ residency programs.
All interviews are stressful whether virtual or in person. The key is being prepared and practicing with the virtual platform so you are most comfortable and confident. These are some of our favorite ways to get your virtual interview space set-up.
Your Environment Matters
- Choose a simple, clean background. Too much on the walls and clutter behind you can be distracting.
- Have something of interest behind you that you can discuss during the interview. Whether it be a picture, a favorite book or a plant, someone may ask you about it.
- Avoid sitting in front of a white background as it is a reflective color.
- Avoid a swivel chair during the interview as you may move around inadvertently, which can be very distracting on camera.
- Put your web camera at eye level. Raise your computer with textbooks.
- Leave about 20 percent of space above your head on the screen so you don’t encompass the entire video frame.
- If you commonly fidget, hold a stress ball during the interview below your waist.
- Make sure both of your feet are on the ground.
- Look at your web camera lens when speaking. Try putting a sticker or piece of colored tape beside the camera to remind yourself to focus on the lens.
- Sit facing the window so your face is illuminated! You should be well lit and the center of attention. If needed, use an additional lamp source or two to help.
- Test different lighting at various times of the day since your interview can be in the morning or afternoon.
- If you plan to wear jewelry, try it on and check for a glare.
- Avoid wearing large over-the-ear headphones.
- Headphones help prevent echoes in a room, but just ensure they are charged if you use wireless ones.
- Be weary of jewelry that jingles when you move as that can create distractions.
- Remember, the attention should be on you, not the clothes. So avoid prints, and wear professional business attire.
- If you have an Ethernet cord, use one. If not, make sure your computer is close to the Internet router to avoid an unstable Internet connection.
The night before an interview, follow the check-list below to be prepared.
- Is your computer hooked up to the charger?
- Is your phone on silent?
- Are all other devices in the house disconnected from the wifi connection?
- Is your partner or roommates aware of the projected start and end time of your interview?
- Did you disable all the noisy notifications on your computer for text messages and emails?
- If you are wearing wireless headphones, are they fully charged?
- Do you have a list of 10 to 12 questions to ask residents, the program director, and other attending physicians that you’re interviewing with? Make sure none of the answers to these questions are found on the program websites.
- Do you have the program coordinator’s number or email to contact them in case there are technological difficulties?
Join the Pact to Support Each Other
It is important for applicants to support our fellow colleagues throughout this stressful journey. At Inside The Match, our mission is to help calm and relieve the anxiety and ERAS fears of the next generation of innovative and compassionate physicians. We've been there, and got your back! We ask that applicants avoid boasting about their interview invitations on social media. Interview season is stressful enough. Support each other during this new and unchartered journey of virtual interviews.
Follow us on Instagram and Twitter @InsideTheMatch to get more interview tips. Whether you are applying to medical school or applying to Match 2021, our tips will help you succeed. Our mission is to help you through this stressful interview season.
Simone Bernstein is a resident physician and co-founder of Inside the Match.