This is a numbers game. Increasing the number of residency interviews you get is essential to success. We wanted to share some of our tips and tricks on how to increase the number of interviews after your application is submitted. Why is this important? We know that every single residency interview is precious. Precious.
For those interested, we encourage you to check out the NRMP’s Charting Outcomes for IMGs (4th Edition – 2022). If you check out their Internal Medicine results on Page 112 (Graph IM-1) illustrates why the number of interviews matter so much. The take home is that if you have 1 residency interview – your chances of matching is around 35%. This means there is hope with only interview. But, if you’re able to bump that up to 2 interviews or even 3 – your chances jump to 40% and then 50%. Thus, each interview you add from 1 to 3 increases your chances of matching by an average of 20%. If you have only 1 residency interview – you need to work hard to get 2. If you have 5 interviews – 7 is better. Once you’re past 8, you should feel pretty good about matching but there is still a 10% chance you don’t match as a U.S. IMG and a 20% chance you don’t match as a Non-U.S. IMG. At RIQ, our candidates match at an 80% rate – which is equivalent to getting 8 interviews. Once you’re past 15 interviews, it’s very unlikely for you not to match.
We have helped many of our Concierge clients get more interviews early on in the season. The first and most important thing to understand is that candidates are not powerless to get more interviews. We know that many IMGs will apply to every single eligible program – yes, there is a cost associated there but it also creates applicant overload for so many programs. Thus, many programs will overlook your application because you’re applying from a very far geographic location or you do not have a connection to the program even if your scores and graduation date are well within their averages. Oftentimes, a well placed email or note can get you a critical residency interview.
Here’s our strategy in a nutshell.
- Create a list of high priority programs that fit your credentials and competitiveness. You want to track these with hopes you’ll be able to get residency interviews from them.
- You don’t want to be annoying or aggressive very early in the interview season in trying to get an interview. Oftentimes, the program simply hasn’t had a chance to review the applicants and haven’t released interviews. Check the forums to see when interviews have been released. Give it a week or two, to then reach out. Oftentimes, interviews are released in batches and organized by a faculty member assigned to a group of interviews. So you don’t need to worry if you don’t get an interview in the first batch. This has something that has happened to David and I personally.
- Send a short but directed email to the program director and cc the program coordinator. Here’s our template.
“Dear Dr. XYZ,
I wanted to reach out to re-emphasize my interest in your residency program. As a quick update to my application, my pending publication was accepted by the Journal of XYZ. Moreover, I believe I’m a great fit given my connection to XYZ region where I believe I will be able to thrive as a resident trainee. Should there be any last minute cancellations or availability, I would deeply appreciate the opportunity to interview.
ERAS ID: ######”
The above is helpful because you do not want to write a long essay. The key points are to update the program if you have a meaningful update. The second point is to try to create a connection to the region / program that is beyond simply trying to get another residency interview. We were able to grab extra interviews for candidates who had family friends or family in the region – it helps explain why someone living in New York would want to come to Kansas potentially. Sometimes even 2nd degree connections can be good enough through your network – family friends of relatives even – to help programs feel like you are considering them seriously or would be happy to move. We have seen this work – but don’t be pushy and don’t expect it to work. But if you send this out to 30 programs or 50 programs, there is a reasonable shot it bumps your residency interviews count up. That is worth it.