What do interviewers really read before interviewing you?

It should not surprise you that PDs and interviewers do not read a whole lot from your application.  Interview day is a schedule packed day for both interviewers and interviewees.  Usually, the next interviewee is lined up outside of the room right waiting to go in right after the previous left.  This leaves almost no time for interviewers to review your application before you go in.  Knowing this and preparing your interview accordingly is crucial to making yourself stand out!

The most important advice to remember from this article is this:

Never, ever, interview as if the PD read your application!

This means that if you did something great, had a great accomplishment, won a scholarship, or published 5 articles – you must say these things to each of your interviewers!  If you don’t, you might as well have not done it.  I cannot tell you how many interviewers congratulated me for scholarships and other achievements which I had won.  These accomplishments were obviously listed in my application, yet they had no idea about them.  To say it another way, make sure that in every interview, you are relaying the highlights of your CV.

How much do they actually read?

If should not surprise you that the answer is truthfully: Not much.  Now, to to the credit of residency programs across the country, significant parts of your application had been read by someone before they selected to interview you.  Usually the process works like this: the interview coordinator and other non-MD personnel screen the applications they receive for ones above certain internal thresholds of Step 1, 2 and 3 scores.  Next, the same people (or sometimes MDs) review your application and rank your medical school, grades, awards, research etc.  A selected number of applications finally reach the desk of the PD.  He/she may look over your personal statement, letters, and CV to decide whether to finally interview you.  The interviews are conducted by the PD and other faculty.  The other faculty have generally not read a lot of your application, and a great deal of time separated when the PD read the app and when he is interviewing.  Once again, this highlights why you should always interview as if they never read anything at all.

What do they usually read?

Below is a ranking of what interviewers have read in the 30 seconds before you walk into the room.

  1. What medical school you went to
  2. Your Step scores and Grades
  3. Your Hobbies and Interests
  4. Your Research
  5. Letters of Recommendation

Why only 30 seconds you ask?  Interviewers run on a tight schedule, and often that schedule is running late leaving everyone under time pressure

Reading the application gets them situated with the caliber of applicant they are dealing with, and nothing more!  They are trying to learn:  is this a stellar applicant with high Step scores, an average member of their applicant pool, or a student reaching toward entry into their program?  Everything they can read is already there, they want to spend the rest of the time getting to know you as a person and seeing how to interact face-to-face.

Many applicants don’t know that the Hobbies section is actually very often read.  Why? Because interviewers are looking for some way to connect with the applicant.  This means you should be ready to talk about your hobbies/interests – and seem excited about it.


And the final take-away is:

You should drop in the highlights of your CV while answering questions for each one of your interviewers.Learn much more about what PDs are trying ask from each question, how to answer the highest-yield interview questions, how to specifically answer about your hobbies, and much more from our member section.  See how Residency Interview Questions can dramatically boost your interview.