Avoid these common interview killers.
“Sorry I’m late. I got lost because my phone updated and my map app is no longer compatible.”
Dead on arrival. There is no excuse for being late! However, if there really was an act of nature that delayed you, initiate interview CPR by calling ahead to let them know and potentially reschedule and when you arrive apologize, and then proceed with your interview. Don’t let it ruin your focus. At the very least, the interview will be a good learning experience and some real time practice.
“Like, I just really like this um specialty, you know?”
Vocabulary is one of the quickest ways we instinctively assess intelligence. Scrub your speech of these linguistic fillers so they do not send the wrong message. We tend to these fillers to camouflage when we are searching for the perfect words or when we are looking for approval. Unfortunately for many of us, it has become ingrained in our speech pattern. If you love spoken word as much as I do, watch this spoken word piece by Taylor Mali who sums it up beautifully. There are several ways to combat this. Steven D Cohen suggests training yourself to “Pause. Think. Answer”. Practice formulating an answer in silence! Removing these fillers from your everyday speech will help prevent you from resorting to it when under pressure.
“I can’t think of any questions for you right now. You guys have done such a good job explaining everything.”
When your interviewer asks if you have any questions, they are evaluating several things:
- How well do you know the field?
- How thorough are you in choosing a place to train?
- Have you done your homework on the program or been paying attention during the presentations?
On interview day, when the spotlight is on you, you may view your questions as an inconvenience to your interviewer. After all, they’ve probably heard your same question from several other students and they’ve been spending all morning telling you about their program. Don’t fall for it! Not only will you miss an opportunity to tell them more about yourself, but you risk coming off as disinterested.
Prepare some questions ahead of time. Here are 10 questions to ask your interviewer that are geared towards generic job hunting but can be tailored to your program and specialty. The best questions often build from previous interactions with your interviewer.
“Today is very important to me because I’m interviewing with some important people so I need you to speed this registration process up.”
Be nice to everyone! Remember, the interview is not limited to the formal question and answers. In many programs, the staff have seen many classes pass through. In fact, the receptionist checking you in may have done the same for the program director when he was in your shoes. This is just one example of how you never know who has a direct line to the admissions committee.
“I wish I could’ve done a rotation here but the people in my clinical rotation office are complete idiots and they messed up my schedule.”
Do not bad mouth people. Even if they justifiably frustrated you, playing the blame game during an interview will only make you look incompetent and unable to take criticism. Instead, focus on the positives of the struggle. Analyze all the pain points in your career thus far and change your perspective so that you can present them as valuable learning experiences.
Don’t fall into these traps. You can avoid most of them by keeping the right attitude and preparing answer banks for the most common questions.
What are other interview mistakes you’ve come across or committed on the interview trail?
Dr. Bonnie Mason is the founder of Nth Dimensions, the top pipeline for women and minorities pursuing competitive specialties like orthopedics.
Dr. Roy Meals has long been influential in orthopedic world. Amongst many other acclaims, he is past president of the American Society for Surgery of the Hand and has left his imprint on academic literature. He has also recently ventured into blogging...
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