Bottom Line: A short series of posts for fourth year medical students going in to interview season, part 1 of 3.
This post is one in a shorts series intended for MS4s entering interview season. Hit the “med school tips” tag above to quickly find the others. These won’t be “how to interview” tips — you’ll find those everywhere. Instead, they’ll be little tricks and habits that made a fun-but-kinda-stressful few months easier for me.
Make Your CV Early
I started keeping my CV up-to-date during my second year of medical school. Every few months I’d go back in and see what was new — it’s surprising what big accomplishments you can forget about if you’re not writing these things down. I had a big CV I kept in Google Docs that had tons of stuff and was far to long, but I’d trim it down and customize for each time I needed it. When it came time for ERAS, this made it pretty easy to use the big one to fill in the ERAS CV (they have their own form, you don’t get to keep your pretty formatting), and to trim down a copy for distribution to LOR writers. I recommend you get your CV together early, both so you can make it available to your LOR writers, and to expedite the headache that is ERAS.
Make a LOR Packet
This probably goes without saying, but you should put together a basic packet that you can give to everyone from whom you’ve requested a LOR. Mine had an updated CV, my ERAS personal statement, and a “unique characteristics” document — a paragraph my Dean of Students requested to help make our Dean’s Letter. Putting these all together in a folder entitled “LOR Packet” made it easy to drag-and-drop them into an email together and ensured that my letter writers had easy access to my updated information.
Filenames for Versioning Drafts of CV and Personal Statement
Each time you go to update your CV or personal statement, I highly recommend that you duplicate the file, prepending a
20130810_CV_for_award.doc) to the beginning of the filename, and edit that one (keeping all of them in the same folder). This way, as you continue refining, you can always go back and view a previous version, but you can almost instantly sort them from least to most recent by sorting files by name and choosing the bottom one, since the filename of the most recent one will always start with the highest number / date.
Canned Interview Responses
Depending on what specialty you’re going into, you may have a ton of interview scheduling to do. Often, the speed of your response can make the difference between getting the date you’re available to interview or not. After all this work, it would be a shame to miss a date because you took too long to write an email. I found it incredibly helpful to write canned responses ahead of time that I could use on the fly. I use TextExpander (iOS, Mac OSX), which has the extra convenience of syncing snippets through DropBox, so I could write and edit them on my Mac but use them on my iPhone as well. TextExpander and many similar apps support “fill in the blank” snippets for things like names and dates so that I could partially customize my responses, as well as optional portions (like my “InterviewBroker” part below, which some programs used but not others). While you could always just copy and paste from a text file and fill in blanks manually, it’s important not to send a response with a blank or incorrect program name / coordinator name.
Here are my templates:
Thank you again for your offer to interview at %filltext:name=institution%. Unfortunately, although I had scheduled an interview with you on %filltext:name=interview date%, I will no longer be available to interview at that time. %fillpart:name=InterviewBroker?%I have cancelled my scheduled interview with the Interview Broker online service, but I wanted to notify you by email as well. %fillpartend%I would appreciate a brief confirmation when you receive this email so I can be sure my slot is opened for another interviewee. I wish you the best of luck in filling your program with superb applicants this interview season, and if you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at any time.
Thank you kindly for your offer to interview at %filltext:name=institution%. Unfortunately, I will not be available to interview at your program. %fillpart:name=Interview Broker%I have cancelled my interview through the Interview Broker online service, but I wanted to notify you by email as well. %fillpartend%I wish you the best of luck in filling your program with superb applicants this interview season. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me at any time.
Thank you again,
Thank you kindly for the invitation to interview at %filltext:name=institution%. If %filltext:name=interview date% is still an available date, I would like to interview then. I will be more than happy to attend the social event the preceding evening as well.
ERAS’s Weird CFM Files
You can download copies of your application and CV from ERAS, but they come as an unusual
.cfm filetype. Thanks to this thread at the SDN forums, I discovered you can just replace the
Okay, that’s all for tonight. More to come soon.