Top 5 Tips for Nailing Your Virtual Residency Interviews

Virtual Residency Interviews: Top 5 Tips

Virtual residency interviews are the new normal. David and I still remember vividly how we traveled around the country to 50+ hospitals and residency sites on planes, trains, and buses. This got worse in the winter with flight cancellations, flus, and tight connections. I had to go to New York City five separate occasions in a single interview season. With the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual interviews took over. Now, this is the way residency interviews are being conducted. This maybe either Zoom (most popular), Microsoft Teams (also popular), or Google Hangouts.

The fundamentals of succeeding in residency interviews have not changed whether you’re in person or on Zoom. Thus, the quality of your answers are still key and remain unchanged. But, there are definitely some tips for virtual residency interviews we want to share with you all.

1. Make sure you have stable and dependable internet even if that means leaving home.

I know this seems so obvious – but we still have instances where a candidate has a poor internet connection. This leads to unstable video connection, poor audio, and an overall negative experience. Don’t risk it. If you know your internet connection at home is weak – find a library or a quiet internet cafe. These virtual interviews are very tightly scheduled and faculty are not interested in rescheduling due to poor internet connections. Think about this way – if you even waste 5 minutes on a poor connection, that can mean up to 25% of an interview is wasted. I know from personal experience it’s very hard to be sympathetic in 2023 to poor internet connections. Many of you maybe interviewing from your home countries – and this may require extra work to be in a place where you can be sure your video and audio is crisp and clear.

2. Make sure all of your software programs are up to date before you start your interviews – preferably 24 hours before.

We all have had this happen to us. Right before a really important meeting – you are forced to update Zoom. Sometimes this can be quick and you’re only a minute or two late – but sometimes it can require a systems update or your computer crashes. Then, you’re late by 5 minutes or more costing you critical time with your interviewer. You sometimes can’t predict systems updates but you can reduce the chances and stress.

3. Invest in basic equipment and technology.

Overall, your computer webcam is probably fine – but if you’re working with an older laptop, you may benefit from a better webcam. Every little advantage matters. Imagine if you had 2 candidates – both with the same CVs and both strong interviewers. The candidate that has a crisper webcam will come across more prepared and better liked. Thus, if you can afford it, we recommend investing in 2 basic technologies.

a) A solid 4k webcam. We like the Logitech Brio. It’s about $130 USDs – and we think worth it. Both David and I use this webcam for daily use. It requires 0 setup.

Logitech Brio 4K Webcam

Best webcam for residency interviews

b) A decent microphone. Again, your voice is important. Thus, a solid USB microphone will allow your voice to come through clearer and crisper. This is only $40 USDs on Amazon.

Logitech for Creators BlueSnowball iCE USB Microphone

Best microphone for residency interviews

With a good webcam and a solid microphone you can make sure you are confidently coming across to the interviewers.

4. Make sure your background is professional. If not, use the blur.

For virtual residency interviews, you do not need a carefully curated background. However, we have noticed some candidates often pick backgrounds that are “cute” – there are things like virtual animals, or floating aliens. While this is fine with your friends, it is not for a virtual residency interview. Backgrounds that typically work well includes things like bookshelves. Avoid a bright window in the back as this creates a shadow on you. Make sure there is adequate lighting so people can see your face. If your background is messy – use the blur so that the focus is on you.

5. Matching the energy of your interview + 20% more.

In real person interviews, we naturally are able to titrate how much energy and emotion to bring. This is because body language is much easier to read in person. On a virtual residency interview, this is harder. Your interviewer – especially if their extroverted – may really prefer in person interactions. Virtual residency interviews become a lot less engaging. Thus, their energy through the webcam maybe lower. I think it’s important to remember that. This may have nothing to do with you. With that being said, you have to gauge their energy early on. We suggest matching that energy + 20% more excitement. This is important because you want to bring more energy than your interviewer but not an excessive amount. We have seen interviewers that are overly excited, speak too fast, and speak too loud. This can be uncomfortable for the interviewer. In any given social situation, there is always varying levels of energy. In a one on one virtual setting, you want to be the active voice but not too aggressive.

These are hopefully practical tips to help you feel more confident and prepared for your virtual residency interview.