After you hit that Submit button, congratulations on completing your ERAS application! This is the first hurdle towards your journey in residency training. It’s a huge accomplishment to have completed USMLEs, summarized your CV, written your personal statement and obtained reference letters. However, there are still steps that you can do to proactively improve your chances of a successful residency match in between the time of your submission and first interview.
A Word about Supplemental Applications
Supplemental applications are most common for internal medicine, general surgery and dermatology programs. The application is considered optional (though not really), and is a way for you to further that this application be completed, as most of applicants you are competing against will likely do so. Otherwise, it could be seen as a red flag that you’re not willing to put in the effort. Program directors are frequently reviewing these supplementals to see if there are past experiences of special note, so you want to still put serious effort in drafting your response. Be strategic: if you have a top program that you are interested in, it is a good idea to model some of what you state in your supplemental to the practice setting/missions and goals of your desired program.
When are Interview Offers First Given out?
Interview offers typically are given out in waves and are dependent on the specialty you are applying for. The earliest tend to come within the first month of submission in the month of October. This year, residencies may begin reviewing MyERAS applications starting September 27, 2023. Behind the scenes, a residency program offers their first wave of offers to their core candidate group which includes their most desired candidates, internal applicants, and IMG applicants from familiar medical schools/countries from whom they have accepted in the past. As applicants accept their offers and confirm their role model interview date, additional spots will open up. This leads to a second wave of interview offers on a rolling basis which spans several months. Smaller specialties have only a couple of interview days for the whole academic year, while larger specialties (internal medicine, family, pediatrics etc.) have numerous interview days on an ongoing basis scheduled throughout the season. Further into the season, programs may do a re-review of their interview candidates and select further applicants to interview. Given the re-review and cancellation of interview spots from other applicants, it is not uncommon for offers to be sent in December through late January. You should keep in mind that many applicants are accepted from late interviews and is not necessarily a sign of poor chances.
When to Start Interview Prep?
For most applicants, interview prep starts in earnest after your first interview offer. Even before that, most applicants have at least some idea of what typical interview questions are. If you are interested in some of what the most common Residency Interview Questions are, please click here. It may be the first time that an applicant has really conducted any sort of interview in their life. Advanced preparation is recommended to prepare/practice interview answers and understand expectations, including timeline of the interview day, attire, and interactions with existing residents.
How to Encourage Programs to Offer You an Interview? The “Letter of Interest”
This is really important. Residency selection is a process of negotiation between the applicant and the program, which means you can and should advocate for yourself. This begins at the moment you submit your ERAS. If a desired residency program has not sent you an offer but have for others, then it’s time for you to act. It absolutely does not hurt your chances to contact the program and send a “letter of interest.” In a room full of people, this is akin to you walking up to the front and making yourself heard by the people in charge. This is a way for you to fight for yourself as much as possible. The letter of interest should most importantly provide updates about your clinical activities (away rotations, clinical observerships, etc.) and research updates (papers in progress, accepted publications, etc.) and reaffirm a strong interest in the program. These letters should be directed specifically to a particular program, with headings including the name of the program director and the name of the program.
As always, we wish you the best of luck in your interview journey.