How to Combat Residency Interview Anxiety?

How to Combat Residency Interview Anxiety?

Nov 04, 2020 Published by Kathrin O'Neill

Table of Contents

Residency interview is of extreme importance for international medical graduates in the US. It can be a primary and decisive factor in your chances of matching a program. Those years spent in undergraduate and medical school, along with the months you spent preparing for the residency application, all the efforts eventually culminate into the all-important residency interview. Therefore, it is highly likely that you would feel nervous in the days and hours that lead up to the interview.

According to a study published in the Journal of Graduate Medical Education, the residency match process proves to be very stressful for the applicants. It happens to be a significant cause of distress among medical students. Some amount of stress is good and can positively impact your performance during the interview, as you will stay focused. However, too much interview anxiety will adversely affect the way you act during the interview. This is why you must learn to manage your stress levels, calm your nerves, and be at your best during the residency interview.

So, how to deal with residency interview anxiety? Here’s what you need to do.

Prepare, Prepare, and Prepare

We couldn’t emphasize more on preparing for the interview. It is a fundamental part of stress management. The better prepared you are for the residency interview, the more stress-free and relaxed on the interview day. Remember that preparing for the residency interview isn’t all about improving your knowledge reserves. Preparation involves many more steps, such as using your connections to get some exclusive insider tips. If you already know someone who is part of the medical residency process or someone in the program faculty, seek advice. If you do not directly know anyone in the medical field, there’s nothing to worry about as you can always consult someone who already has interviewed others.

Also, part of the residency interview preparation process is the trial run. Schedule your entire day beforehand. Such as how the interview day will go right from the time you wake to the time you leave for the interview. Ideally, you should arrive at least a few days earlier than the interview day to ensure you have the transportation to the venue sorted out. On the other hand, if you already live in the same area, drive to the program at least once prior to the interview day to gauge the amount of time needed to reach the venue and estimate the traffic. Nothing can be as devastating as being late for your residency interview-right?

Stay Relaxed and Calm

As the residency interview day draws closer, many applicants start feeling a bit more anxious and warier. This is the time that you should try to relax. We know it won’t be easy for you; after all the hard work you have put in and given your ever-busy schedule getting yourself settled and your nerves calmed will seem like a daunting task. But, believe it or not, a little bit of relaxation can help you go a long way. This is especially relevant the night before the residency interview day.

The question is- how can you relax before the interview day or days leading up to the crucial interview? Check out the following relaxation techniques that may help you out:

  • Doing light exercises
  • Going for a walk
  • Meditation or yoga
  • Taking a warm bath
  • Listening to your favorite songs or watching comedy movies
  • Calling a friend who makes you laugh
  • Practicing controlled breathing
  • Laughter therapy
  • Having a good night’s sleep

Try to find out what makes you happy and doesn’t drain your energy. Don’t indulge in anything that’s physically taxing.

Focus on the Goal

If you want to start the residency interview day the right way, ensure that you lay out your interview outfit, shoes, and accessories the night before. It is an excellent strategy to perform mandatory tasks like sorting transport and outfit early on because you’ll have plenty of time on the interview day. You can use this time to take a warm shower, make yourself a nourishing breakfast, and energize yourself for the day.

One tip you must always remember is to avoid overdoing the caffeine. A majority of applicants feel tempted to get more coffee or soda than they usually do. That’s the wrong approach because excessive caffeine will make you jittery and nervous as it will raise your heart rate. When you reach the program, take a minute to collect yourself and shake out every bit of stress and anxiousness. Keep smiling and tell yourself that this interview isn’t the end of the world. We know you will feel that it is the only thing that matters, but try to tell yourself that it isn’t. You will indeed feel nervous, which is perfectly normal. The trick is to positively accept this nervousness and move beyond it. You can use stress to motivate you to perform better rather than consume your zest and energy.

One last tip- walk into that interview confidently because you can do it.