With all your CaRMS deadlines drawing ever nearer, it’s time to make sure you have all your interview-related questions answered so you can effectively prepare. Our goal today is to answer any lingering interview prep questions you might have.
Find out how to accept, decline, or reschedule interviews, how to find programs’ interview schedules through your CaRMS Online account, and a few additional interview tips to help you ace your interviews.
#1: When is residency interview season
Interviews for Canadian medical graduates (CMGs) are held between February 28th and March 20th. There isn’t a specific interview period for international medical graduates (IMGs); they can happen any time between when programs start reviewing applicants’ files (January 31st) and the rank order list submission deadline (March 31st).
If you still have questions about the timeline, check out the R-1 Main Residency Timeline.
#2: When should I expect my residency interview invitation?
Your interview offer status will be updated on your CaRMS Online account between January 31st and February 18th. Each program will also send a formal invitation to your email, which will provide you with specifics like where and when the interview will be held.
There’s a bit of a delay between when your status is updated and when they send the email. The delay usually only takes a few days. Sometimes, however, it can take up to a week for you to receive an email invitation. You don’t want to wait too long to follow up with programs if you don’t get an email. Since the national interview period starts on February 28th , you should reach out to them directly by February 25th to clear up any confusion.
#3: How to accept residency interview invitations
You accept your interview invitations by responding to the emails that programs send out. They might offer you a range of dates and times to choose from or they might just offer you a single option. If they offer you a few options, keep in mind that it’ll be first come first serve, so act fast! Near the end of this post, we’ll go through a few email templates, including how to accept your interview offer and how to reschedule interviews if you have a conflict with another offer.
If you’re anxious about overlapping interview times, you can actually check when programs are holding interviews through your CaRMS account. Once you’ve logged in, click on My Application – Application to programs. From here, you have two options. The first is to click on Interview dates for programs on my list which will show you the interview dates just for the programs you applied for. The other option is to click on Interview schedule by discipline which will give you a list of interview dates for all programs in the match, organized by discipline.
Checking these lists in the days between when your interview offer status is updated and when you receive the email with the details, you’ll at least know about any potential conflicts and, more generally, it’ll allow you to get an idea of what your interview schedule might look like.
#4: When to schedule residency interviews
There isn’t really a best time to schedule your interviews. You’re just aiming to avoid an overlap with another interview. Other than that, it’s all about when you think you’ll be best prepared for your interviews. If you’re not fully prepared and you’re given a couple of options for an interview, then it’s best to choose the later option and give yourself that extra time to practice and perfect your communication skills.
#5: Will residency interviews be virtual?
Yes, CaRMS has already announced that all interviews will be virtual for this match cycle.
#6: Residency virtual interview tips
The best tip we can give is to make sure your technology is working and that you know how to use the platform the interview is going to be held on. You don’t want to be floundering at the last minute to install any programs or struggling to unmute yourself. You’ll just stress yourself out unnecessarily and you’ll go into your interview on edge.
Instead, get everything ready a couple of days before, at the very latest. If you’re using a platform you’ve never had to use before, why not do a practice call with a friend or family member to ensure that you’re familiar with the camera and microphone settings? Having used it at least once will give you a slight boost of confidence going into the interview.
You also need to make sure you have a stable Wi-Fi connection and a clean, quiet space to use for your interview. If your Wi-Fi isn’t great, talk to your local library. They might offer a few solutions. Some libraries across Ontario have a hotspot lending program. You can check them out the way you would check out a book which means you can bring it home with you, usually for 21 days. If you can’t get your hands on a hotspot, you should look into booking a private room at the library instead. This takes care of your Wi-Fi and your space simultaneously. Two birds, one stone.
If you have to have your interview at home, the main thing you’ll want to take care of is cleaning up your space. Make sure there aren’t any piles of laundry in the background or anything that could distract you or your interviewers throughout the process. This includes any wandering pets! Also, make sure the spot you choose to do your interview in has sufficient lighting.
If you live with other people, give them a heads up and ask them to avoid downloading large files or playing internet games during your interview. Games and downloads might affect your Wi-Fi connection.
Virtual interviews can be a lot more stressful than in-person interviews. It’s so much harder to read your interviewers’ body language, glitches can cause awkward silences or you might end up accidentally talking over someone. If any of this happens, just keep in mind that your interviewers are well aware that these technological hurdles can happen and they won’t unfairly dock points for things outside your control. If you sense a lag in communication or any other glitch, just make your interviewers aware so they also know what to expect. This virtual reality is probably not their preferred method of communication either, so recognize that and continue pushing through to the finish line.
#7: What to wear to a residency interview
Even though your interviews are going to be virtual, you still have to dress formally. It’s the same degree of formality that you would need if you were interviewing for an office position. That means you need button down shirts and blazers.
While you could probably get away with wearing sweatpants or pajama bottoms , you actually feel better and more confident when you put on a nice cohesive outfit! So why not put on some structured pants for your interviews?
And don’t forget, since there’ll be so much more focus on your head during these interviews than there would be in an in-person interview, you’ll have to take extra care of your hygiene. Wash your face, brush your hair, and make sure there isn’t anything stuck in your teeth.
#8: Residency interview email templates
Now we’ll go into detail about how to write a few different emails. We’ll talk about how to accept or decline an email invitation and how to cancel or reschedule your interviews.
There are a few similarities across the different kinds of emails. Regardless of which email you’re writing, you’ll be mentioning the date and time of your interviews. You’ll need to include the time zones, just to make sure that you and the program are on the same page for when your interview is going to be. You also always want to thank them for the opportunity.
Now, let’s get into the specifics of each format.
Drafting a residency interview acceptance email is probably the easiest one to write. Other than accepting the invitation, you can use it as a chance to clarify and confirm all of the details about the date, time, and location of your interview.
Your email could look something like this:
Hello [name of the person who sent you the invite],
Thank you for inviting me to interview at [program name]. I appreciate the opportunity and I look forward to meeting with you on [date] at [time].
Just to confirm, our meeting will take place on [platform name], correct?
If the email includes a list of options for you to schedule your interview, it would look very similar. You would just need to include a line about which time slot you’re selecting.
In this case, your email might look like this:
Hello [name of the person who sent you the invite],
Thank you for the invitation to interview at [program name]. I appreciate the [opportunity and I look forward to meeting with you.
As per your availability, I would like to schedule my interview on [date] at [time]. Just to confirm, our meeting will take place on [platform name], correct?
Don’t be afraid to decline an invitation if you change your mind about a program. Maybe your circumstances changed and for whatever reason you know that you won’t be including the program in your rank order lists. If this is the case, it’s best to be honest and make them aware that you no longer want to interview with them. It’ll save your time as well as theirs.
Here’s how you might decline an interview :
Hello [person who sent you the invite],
Thank you for the invitation to interview at [program name]. I appreciate the opportunity.
Regretfully, I have to decline your offer at this time. I greatly appreciate your consideration and apologize for any inconvenience this might have caused.
If you have a conflicting interview or you just aren’t available at the time the program invites you for, you might have to reschedule. Don’t worry! Programs are generally happy to accommodate you to the best of their abilities.
Here’s how you might write an email asking to reschedule your interview.
Hello [person who sent you the invite],
Thank you for the invitation to interview at [program name].
I am reaching out to inquire about the possibility of rescheduling my interview for a different date. I am scheduled for another interview on [date]at [time].
My apologies for any inconvenience. I look forward to speaking with you about this great opportunity.
If you have to cancel an interview, it’s generally best to cancel it at least two weeks ahead of time. But sometimes you have no choice and have to cancel residency interviews last minute.
In this case, it’s good etiquette to include a brief explanation of why you have to cancel so that they know that you really had no other choice. You don’t have to go into detail. Something vague like “family emergency” or “medical issues” will do. It’s just something to give them an understanding of what’s going on.
In these circumstances, your email might go a little like this:
Hello [person who sent you the invite],
Thank you for offering me the opportunity to interview at [program name]. However, due to unforeseen [issue description], I have to cancel our appointment.
I apologize for any inconvenience caused at this time. Thank you for your time and consideration.
#9: Residency interview didn’t go well
Your interviews might not all go the way you had hoped. That’s okay! Take it as a learning experience and use it to improve your self-awareness and communication skills in future interviews.
It’s easier said than done, but if you feel like an interview didn’t go too well, try to be a little kinder to yourself. Take a minute to do something you enjoy. Make your favourite meal. Maybe just take a nap. The residency application process is a long, emotionally taxing process. You need to take care of yourself so you don’t burn out before your residency has even started.
Once you’re ready to reflect on your less than ideal interview experience, ask yourself: what went wrong? What could have gone differently? What do I need to work on and how can I get to where I want to be? Take the time to work on these issues before your next interview.
For example, were you rambling too much when answering questions? Practice using the STAR method when describing your work experience during interviews to keep your answers strong, relevant and effective
Did your laptop battery die in the middle of your interview? Next time, plug in your laptop before the interview begins so that you don’t have to worry about the battery at all.
Maybe the interviewers were harsh or rude. Maybe they asked you questions that you weren’t comfortable answering. Go over CaRMS’ interview guidelines and their policies (including their reporting procedures) before your next interview to learn how to deal with these situations
Remember that if you realize during an interview that a program isn’t the right fit for you, you don’t have to include them in your rank order list. Then there’s absolutely no chance that you’ll be matched with them.
If you’re looking for more information on how the match algorithm and rank order lists work, check out our post all about it.
#10: How to ace residency interviews
It all comes down to preparation and practice. Start by learning about the different types of interviews and the kinds of questions you might be asked. Then, begin putting together clear, concise answers that demonstrate your strength as an applicant and impress your interviewers.
Next, it’s time to practice. You could create your own mock interviews and practice with family members, friends or classmates. Make sure to ask them for honest and critical feedback. Now isn’t the time to sugarcoat and hold back. It’s important for your supporters to recognize that these interviews are a defining moment in your career.
I Got In offers interview preparation complete with mock interviews and feedback. We’ll help you develop the confidence you need to tackle any interview question or scenario that might come your way. You can set up a free consultation with one of our specialists to help you get started.