Every year after interview season ends, there is a brief interlude until the rank selection list is submitted. And now, during the life and times of covid, it may be more challenging to arrange a second look. However, with vaccines available to health care team members, students, and attendings alike, you may be able to schedule one.
So, 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. Therefore, I am going to take a look at this issue from a program director’s perspective. We will approach the problem by tackling a series of questions that will help you make this critical 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’s perspective, the ideal candidate for a second look at a residency program is a student that has already interviewed, for which the admissions committee was unsure of its final disposition. For example, every once in a while, an application/prospective resident interview causes a stir among the committee. The interview may have gone well, but the application quality didn’t sync with the interview. Or, the application was excellent, but the applicant’s 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 another 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 slightly higher for just showing interest by returning to the program. Usually, candidates don’t return unless they are earnest 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 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 like the people you met, but you felt you didn’t meet the residency program’s key players on the day 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. Also, 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 recommend 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 perhaps 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 reliable 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. Suppose it will be disruptive to return to the program due to travel costs or significant inconvenience (maybe you are amid your medicine sub-internship and can’t miss a few days). In that case, 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 a second interview day, and you need to treat it as such. Wear your best interview clothes as you would have worn for your first interview. Be on your best behavior and be friendly 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?
Certain buzz words 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 you say the wrong thing, it may cause a different result than intended.
If you are genuinely interested in the program, you can say, “I will rank the program first.” This phrase is specific and demonstrates your genuine intention to the interviewers. The program can verify this fact on match day when you either match the program or do not match it. So, your action will back up 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, the program can blacklist you!!!
On the other hand, the phrase “I will rank your program highly” is a buzzword 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 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 essential 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!!!