Thursday, 7 January 2016

Experienced Neurology Interview Questions and Answers

16. Who wrote your letters of recommendation for your application?
I submitted 3 letters of recommendation-- two from professors of neurology and one from a professor of ob-gyn. One of the letters (in neurology) was from a professor with whom I had spent two summers doing research. From what others have told me, this is the strongest letter, most likely because this individual best knew me and my work. As long as you have at least one letter from neurology, I am not convinced that the letter writer's field of expertise is most important. I think it is crucial that the individual really knows you. While it might be useful to have a prominent neurologist at your institution write a letter for you, I believe that it is virtually useless if the letter does not indicate that he/she knows you. Another bit of advice-- individuals who have been around the institution and in academics longer tend to write better letters.

17. Which programs did you apply to and why?
Since I am interested in academic medicine, I applied to a lot of the "big name" academic institutions throughout the country. I initially applied to 16 institutions. At that point, I knew very little about these programs. Since there is very little printed information about programs, I found it most useful to talk to residents at my own institution to find out which programs they had applied to and strongly considered. While I received interviews at most of the places to which I had applied, I only ended up interviewing at 9 programs. I narrowed this down after realizing that there were areas of the country that I had no intention of moving to! Also, at this point, I had learned from residents that certain programs were known for being either too malignant or too disorganized, etc.

18. What kinds of questions did programs tend to ask you?
The most common questions I was asked included "Why did you choose neurology?" and "Where do you see yourself in 10 years?" Also, interviewers asked me about my research. Most of the interviewers were very friendly and asked general, personal questions. I was not asked any neurology questions nor did I feel "pimped." However, in my "hardest" interview I was asked to present a patient I had seen on the neurology service.

19. What would you have done differently in applying?
If I had to apply to neurology programs again, I would definitely get my applications in sooner. It was difficult to get motivated to fill out all the paper applications for neurology programs, so I didn't get my applications in until mid to late October. I think it would have been more ideal to have applications in by early to mid September. Also, I should have started asking residents/ other applicants about programs before I actually filled out the applications. There were some programs I didn't realize were excellent until after the deadlines had passed. Conversely, I filled out a few applications to some big name schools before I found out they had notoriously poor programs, even bordering on not maintaining accreditation!

20. What was the most difficult part of the application process?
The most difficult part of applying to neurology was finding senior med students/ residents at my institution who I could ask questions about different programs. While I was initially intimidated about talking to residents, they were actually very friendly and excited to talk to me, especially because they don't find that many students who actually go into this field. Other than that, the most grueling part of the application process was the amount of time and money it cost to interview. The interviews turned out to be the easiest part!


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