EM Match Advice: Interviewing Strategies

EM Match Advice: Interviewing Strategies


We are thrilled to hear that the first three Google Hangout videos for EM Match Advice were helpful for medical students, applying into EM. With interview season rapidly approaching in a few months (Nov-Feb), we gathered a few of our favorite program directors to discuss interviewing tips. Thanks again to Dr. Mike Gisondi for spearheading this innovative and helpful resource for medical students.

EM Match Advice: Interviewing Strategies


  • 00:00 Dr. Gisondi introduces the speakers. He briefly describes relevant articles in the literature on EM residency interviewing [/fusion_builder_column]
    [1-5] with a mention of the multiple mini-interview (MMI), which was discussed on an ALiEM blog post and hangout.
  • 02:47  Dr. Babcock discusses deciding how many interviews to do and scheduling interviews.
  • 08:24  Dr. Babcock talks about how weather (such as a “polar vortex”) can disrupt the interview day/season. How to deal?
  • 09:34  Dr. Babcock comments on the pre-interview day social event.
  • 10:44  Drs. Lin, Regan, and Shayne weigh in on the importance of the social event.
  • 12:43  The panel shares how each of their programs set up the social event.
  • 15:04  The panel shares their thoughts about when’s the best time to schedule your interview.
  • 17:18  Dr. Shayne reminds students that they may do their interview while on their away rotation.
  • 18:15  Dr. Regan talks about what the actual interview day looks like.
  • 22:06  Dr. Regan shares the value/challenges of applicants meeting residents while on interview day.
  • 24:30  The panelists share what types of questions might come up on your interview day.
  • 28:43  Dr. Regan shares her tips for applicants when they are asked — “Do you have any questions?”
  • 33:34  Dr. Shayne kickstarts a conversation about professionalism regarding interview day — Is it ok to cancel an interview?
  • 37:43  Drs. Shayne and Gisondi clarify what the interview-offering process looks like from his perspective as a program director. Offering interviews to applicants is almost a one-and-done process. After that, not many more slots are left for the rest of the interview season [2].
  • 39:50  Dr. Gisondi asks the panel what applicants should do when they are in “wait-list limbo land” with only 4-5 interviews scheduled. Dr. Shayne weighs in.
  • 41:45  Dr. Shayne sets up the panel discussion about the issue of applicants being asked inappropriate interview questions and how to address them, if they happen [4].
  • 48:40  Dr. Lin shares a 2011 NRMP document about why a general recommendation is to interview at 10-14 programs [6].
  • 50:30  The panel sums up the do’s and don’ts of interview season.
  • 55:35  The panel shares something interesting about their residency program and why applicants should look at their program.


  1. Hopson LR, Burkhardt JC, Stansfield RB, Vohra T, Turner-Lawrence D, Losman ED. The multiple mini-interview for emergency medicine resident selection. J Emerg Med. 2014 Apr;46(4):537-43. PMID: 24462031.
  2. DeIorio NM, Yarris LM, Kalbfleisch ND. Early invitations for residency interviews: the exception or the norm? J Emerg Med. 2007 Jul;33(1):77-9. PMID: 17630083.
  3. Martin-Lee L, Park H, Overton DT. Does interview date affect match list position in the emergency medicine national residency matching program match? Acad Emerg Med. 2000 Sep;7(9):1022-6. PubMed PMID: 11043998.
  4. Hern HG Jr, Alter HJ, Wills CP, Snoey ER, Simon BC. How prevalent are potentially illegal questions during residency interviews? Acad Med. 2013 Aug;88(8):1116-21. PMID: 23807097.
  5. Collings J. Residency Interviews (PDF handout from Dr. Jamie Collings).
  6. Charting Outcomes in the Match, 2011: Characteristics of Applicants Who Matched to Their Preferred Specialty in the 2011 NRMP Main Residency Match (4th edition, PDF) and 2014 (5th edition, PDF)

Watch the other EM Match Advice series videos!

Michelle Lin, MD
ALiEM Editor-in-Chief
Academy Endowed Chair of EM Education
Professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine
University of California, San Francisco
Michelle Lin, MD
Michelle Lin, MD

Latest posts by Michelle Lin, MD (see all)

Michael Gisondi, MD

Michael Gisondi, MD

Associate Professor and Vice Chair of Education
Department of Emergency Medicine
Stanford University
Editor, ALiEM EM Match Advice series
  • This is Fantastic!! I think students are just drooling for resources like this. I think our specialty of Emergency Medicine is on the forefront of utilizing digital media for education distribution and I’m thrilled to see that medical students are getting to benefit as well. Would you mind if I quote and reference this series in my blog/podcast EMIntro?

    • Michelle Lin

      Glad you like! Please do share. Keep up the great work!

    • Michael Gisondi


      I’m glad that you think the webcasts are hitting the mark. Feel free to quote the great program directors who participated. Their comments in each discussion offer tons of useful information for students entering the match this year.

      Good luck with your site. Best, Mike

  • KR

    Thank you SO Much for posting this! It’s a huge help in demystifying the process!

  • Kathy

    Thanks for organizing these Hangouts! The content is great, and it’s also so nice to put personalities and faces to the names and programs you all represent. Love the 1-minute plugs at the end as well.

  • rock43

    Thanks for the information, this is very helpful. At one point in the video, it was mentioned that sending a email to a program may be helpful in order to illustrate a connection that might not be obvious in the application. When should an applicant do this? I am very interested in a program that I have not heard from yet, but I know others who have gotten interviews at this program several weeks ago. Should I inform them of my interest/connection now, or should I wait until later in the process?

    • Great question and I think you’ll get different answers to your question. Just be fully aware that this is a double-edge sword. To start, PD’s get inundated with emails and phone calls from applicants. Answering/addressing all of these can really be overwhelming, which I bet can also be frustrating when most of these conversations don’t change any decision regarding getting interviews or moving up on the rank list. That being said, I’ve seen an occasional, extreme case where a quick email to the program coordinator has helped with getting an interview — spouse or partner lives in the city that you are applying to. Other than that, I’ve witness pretty poor returns on applicant emails. Just emailing to say that you are REALLY interested won’t help, since presumably everyone who applied is really interested.

      So ultimately it depends on whether you’d like to swing that double-edged sword. Your call. Just my 2 cents, and I’m happy to hear if others disagree.

      • JT

        I would like to add to this with a follow-up question. I’m in a similar situation but slightly different. I performed well on an away rotation, received excellent evaluations including a “hope to see you in the future” statement, had many residents say they wanted me to come back for residency, and was told that I was a great applicant for the program. However, now I’m hearing that others from my rotation month as well as others who didn’t rotate have gotten invited while I haven’t. I’ve been given a lot of different advice on how “it’s still early”, “be patient, you’re just low on the alphabet”, etc. but would like to view this realistically. I haven’t yet gotten a rejection, but no invite either so I would like to ask

        1) In this situation, am I realistically out of the running?
        2) If I’m not, when should I consider myself out, and could I do anything to change that?

        • Hi JT: I understand your concerns. It’s hard to sit back do nothing, especially when you hear of others’ experiences. But that’s indeed probably the best course of action right now.

          Also as a general rule, never put too much stock in verbal comments. Tons more factors get incorporated into the decision for interview offering and rank listing.

          You are not out of the running, but my best guess is that you may be in the wait-list pile. Nothing you can do to change where you are right now. Sit tight, is my best suggestion.

        • Michael Gisondi

          You should consider this to be a rolling process for the programs that stretches for most of the month of October. I don’t think that you are out of the running at this point in the month, though admittedly, the majority of invitations will have been sent by early November.

          You are a viable candidate when you receive an invitation to interview, even if that offer comes late in the season off the wait list. No PD will ask you to waste money on a flight and hotel if they don’t believe that you have a reasonable chance to be competitive in their process.

          There isn’t much more o be done if your application is complete. I agree with Michelle, sit tight and be patient — easier said than done!

    • Michael Gisondi

      This is a very stressful month for applicants — a terrible waiting game that plays out for weeks while the program directors/selection committees are reading upwards of 1000 applications at each program. My best advice is simply to be patient. From the PD perspective, I have received almost 100 emails from students in the last 10 days. It is overwhelming. My suggestion is that if you are particularly concerned about one program for a specific reason, then a brief email to the PD that describes your interest in the program is appropriate. I think you should refrain from emailing all the programs that you haven’t heard from yet — it further bogs down the process for you and everyone else.

  • Tyler Lemay

    Thanks to Dr. Lin for referring students to the 2011 Charting Outcomes in the Match. NRMP did recently release the 2014 data with some notable changes in Emergency Medicine. You can find it here: http://www.nrmp.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/Charting-Outcomes-2014-Final.pdf Thank you all for the time you’ve put into this series, your energy is exactly why I’m applying EM!

    • Hi Tyler: Wow, great thanks! Added to the references section.

  • rock43

    Another question… I have an upcoming interview at a program that is lower down on my priority list. I was wait-listed at a program that is high on my priority list on that same day. Now, 1 day before the interview, there is suddenly an opening at the program I am more interested in. I really dont want to be rude and cancel an interview last second, but I feel like the situation is outside of my control. How bad is it to cancel 1 day out?

    • Tough call. I think it may be too late notice to cancel from an etiquette standpoint. My 2 cents.

    • Michael Gisondi

      My opinion: I don’t think that you should cancel with such short notice — and I believe that the general consensus among the PD panelists on the Hangouts was the magic “two week” window, more notice in most circumstances. Last minute cancellations are reserved for travel emergencies, family/personal circumstances, etc.

      Perhaps you can send a brief note to the PD of your more preferred program and explain why you are unable to accept their invitation and that you are excited to visit on another day? It might speak to a professionalism issue that the PDs are sensitive to.

      Good luck — this is a challenging time and your specific dilemma is a tough one.