The Post Interview Second Look – Is It Worth My Time?
Every year after interview season ends, there is a brief interlude until the rank selection list is submitted. You may wonder at this time- Does it make sense to go back to a radiology program to take a second look? It may be a complicated decision and can depend on numerous factors. So, I am going to take a look at this issue from a program director’s perspective. And, we will approach the problem by tackling a series of questions that will help you to make this important decision. Hopefully, it will be of some benefit to those of you that are involved in this process.
Who Is Most Likely To Benefit From a Second Look?
From a residency director perspective, the ideal candidate for a second look at a residency program is a student that has already interviewed at your program for which the admissions committee was unsure of its final disposition. Every once in a while, an application/prospective resident interview causes a stir among the committee. It may be the interview went really well, but the application quality didn’t sync with the interview. Or, the application was really good but the applicant personality was questionable on interview day. Usually, it is some conflict in the committee evaluation process. These applicants can benefit the most from a second look because it may sway the admissions committee one way or the other after the candidate returns.
Second, the marginal/below average candidate that has been ranked but did not have many interviews would also be an ideal candidate to return for a second look. Some programs will rank their returning applicants a little bit higher for just showing interest by returning to the program. Usually, candidates don’t return unless they are really serious about a program. A slight increase in the rank list can make the difference between matching and not matching.
Finally, the other ideal candidate would be the interviewee who felt he/she really didn’t get the best impression of a program and wants to make a more informed decision on the day he/she will submit the rank list. Maybe the program director was absent. Perhaps you have a spouse that wants to remain in the area and you didn’t get the best impression on the interview, but the location would be ideal. Or, maybe you really like the people that you met, but you felt you didn’t get to meet the key players in the residency program on the day that you interviewed. Whatever the case may be, the second look can help to reinforce that decision.
How Do You Know You Should Come For a Second Look?
Let’s first begin by stating: The worst situation for the residency applicant and the program is to have an applicant that has already been placed into the “Do Not Rank” pile return for a second look. It wastes the applicant’s time and money and the resources of the program director and staff. In addition, it may not make sense for the individual applicant to return depending upon other applicant factors. So, here are some criteria that may help you to decide if you are in either of these situations:
- Did the interviewer suggest you come back for a second look? The program director will usually suggest to return for a second look if he/she is potentially interested in a candidate and think it may be of some benefit
- Did you get the cold shoulder during the interview process? Some interviews don’t go well for multiple reasons. That will happen from time to time. Your instinct is probably correct if you feel that is the case. In this situation, it is probably not worthwhile to return for the second look
- How far down is the program on your rank list? If the program is very low on the order of your rank list and you are a very strong candidate, it is probably not worth the effort to return for the second look.
- Is it reasonable to travel to the interview site? Some candidates live very far away from the prospective residency program. If it is going to be disruptive to return to the program due to travel costs or significant inconvenience (maybe you are in the midst of your medicine sub-internship and can’t miss a few days), it is probably not worth your effort.
How Should You Behave/Present Yourself On The Day Of The Second Look?
The program director or interviewer that asks you to return for a second look will often tell the candidate “we would love to have you return for an informal second look”. It is important to remember that there is no such thing as an “informal“ second look. A second look is really a second interview day and needs to be treated as such. Wear your best interview clothes as you would have worn for your first interview. Be on your best behavior and be nice to all staff members just as you would have done for the initial interview. Remember… you still have not been admitted to the program and you are certainly not yet “one of the residents”.
What Should You Tell The Program Director Before You Leave?
There are certain buzz words that have significance to the program director when meeting at the end of the second look day. The program directors and admissions committees take these words very seriously. So, be careful what you say. If say the wrong thing, it may cause a different result than intended.
If you are truly interested in the program, you can say “I will rank the program first.” This is a very specific phrase and demonstrates your true intention to the interviewers. This fact can be verified on match day when you match at the program or do not match at the program. So, it is backed up by the facts. This truth will follow you from this point forward. If you ever decide you want to return to the community as an attending and you did not abide by your word, you can potentially be blacklisted by the program!!! On the other hand, the phrase “I will rank your program highly” is a buzz word that means your program is nowhere near their first choice and you will probably match elsewhere. Some applicants do not realize this. So, be careful!
If you are still not sure after the interview day, it is appropriate to say “I really enjoyed my second look at the program but I am still considering my decisions.” The program director/interviewer will usually understand. When/if you do decide to rank the program first, you can always contact the program and let them know.
Final Thoughts About The Second Look
The second look can be an important part of the residency interview process. It can provide a slight edge to your candidacy and may be worthwhile if approached the right way. On the other hand, it may not be the right move for all applicants. So, weigh the facts and make a final decision. The interview process will be over before you know it!!!