[Interview Series] Part 1: The Interview
Whether you're interviewing for residency, medical school, dental school or any other graduate program this will certainly be the most nerve wrecking but also an incredibly exciting time. The key to killing all of your interviews and keeping your sanity is confidence, organization and planning ahead.
In my fourth year of dental school I spent the majority of my fall semester applying, interviewing and creating a match list for Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery residency programs. I went on 10 interviews in a short time span and it was extremely hectic. During one of my most hectic weeks, I had an interview in California on Monday and Tuesday, then another in Chicago and then another in Boston on Thursday. I was going back and forth from state to state and lived out of a carry on. Still, I had to look sharp, professional and prepared.
So here are some of my top tips for interviews:
1. AVOID BLACK | Wear a suit but avoid black. That's very hard for me to say because 85% of my wardrobe is black BUT everyone wears black and you don't want to be lost in the crowd. You don't have to do anything crazy, stick to simple colors. This is your day to shine! I chose a deep navy blue suit and paired it with a black button up and black heels.
2. AVOID THE IRON | Buy a polyester blend suit. That doesn't sound fancy, and it isn't but it doesn't wrinkle and it's easy to fold into a carry on for your frequent travels so it's a HUGE saving grace. When you have to be up at 5 am for a long interview day the last thing you want to be doing is operating a hot iron. Which brings me to another point: never wear wrinkled clothes. It looks sloppy. And you're not sloppy, you're a boss. Suggestion: Try this H&M suit jacket and pants under $80
3. MIX & MATCH | Buy a suit jacket and multiple matching bottoms. This allows you to change it up when you have back to back interviews without packing too much. I chose a slim fit pant suit for most of my single day interviews but wore a skirt in the same color/fabric if there were multiple days.
4. NATURAL MAKE UP | I chose to keep it neutral with eye liner, mascara, bronzer and a matte nude lip. I also always made sure my nails were trimmed and painted with a nude or light pink color. Staying polished is important but you don't want to look like you're going to the disco.
5. PICK COMFORTABLE SHOES | Wear comfortable shoes. Interviews are LONG and there's usually a tour involved so you're on your feet all day. I wore 3 inch black pumps but kept a pair of flats in my handbag and put them on during the tour. This saved my feet from blisters and soreness which was crucial to survive back to back interviews. Suggestion: try these black Cole Haan pumps
6. COMB YOUR HAIR | Put your hair up. It makes you look fierce and professional and you don't have to subconsciously brush it off your face all day which makes you look nervous.
7. ACCESSORIZE | Carry a professional folder with notepaper and a pen. You should take notes (sparingly) throughout the interview day especially during the program overview which usually starts the day. It makes you look attentive and the notes come in handy when you're making your match list later on. Some programs don't have all of their information online so it'll be hard to go back and find things like time off, salary, number of surgeries, etc. You should also keep copies of your resume on hand just incase the interviewer asks for it.
8. WEAR YOUR CONFIDENCE | The best part of your wardrobe is wearing your confidence. You're a rockstar and you have to show it. Every interview will be intimidating but if you're prepared with a killer outfit and a good night sleep you'll feel much more confident. You should also think positive thoughts. Even if this is not your top program you should have a smile on and show interest throughout the interview. You never know where you will end up matching and it's important to represent yourself well at all programs. Plus, some programs do talk and you want to always be a good topic of discussion.
In the next post, I'll share more about dressing for the socials or second looks as well as the most common interview questions and how to best answer them. If you have specific questions don't hesitate to ask. And share your experiences with me as well!
Wearing | Christian Louboutin Crisscross 100 mm heel (I really can't do the 120, wish I could but I'd fall and break my central incisors!). Mine are sold out but here's a similar style.