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SOAP Interviews: An Overview & Key Tips

Medical Residency Application & Interview Preparation Specialists

After you’ve submitted your 45 applications for SOAP, there are three ways that you can expect a program to interview you – either in person (which is much less likely, and would only be for those who are local), online through video software like Zoom, or via the phone. In general, a program will contact you (if they are interested in interviewing you) either via the phone or through your email, so you must check both your email and phone consistently throughout the first part of the week. Remember that you, as a candidate, cannot make first contact with the program – they must make first contact with you.

From 8am EST on the Tuesday of Match Week, programs can view applications and contact the applicants. Therefore, you can expect an interview, or interviews, any time from here until the end of SOAP, on the Thursday. Remember that interviews could therefore clash with clinical work that you already have scheduled, so ensure that you have informed your supervisors, and try to free up your time for the week as far as possible – if you fail to reply on time, the chances are that the program will just move on to another applicant who gets back to them in time.

Programs will create a preference list for those that they have interviewed, whilst applicants are not able to make a preference list. They will then use this list to select which applicants they would like to provide offers to first on the Thursday.

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SOAP Interviews: Tips

You must use any free time in the first part of the week to research programs that you are particularly interested in. This research will allow you to perform much better in any potential interview.

Remember that phone interviews are very likely, as they are the simplest and most efficient way for a program to quickly reach out to a number of candidates, without having to provide links or rely on any particular technology suite. You should therefore consider this as a likely interview format, and familiarise yourself with it. Phone interviews will typically be from 15-20 minutes, and cover the same kind of questions that you would receive in a regular, face-to-face or online interview. However, there is no opportunity for you to assess the interviewer’s body language, or them to assess yours – and it can be quite hard to assess each other’s tone. The quality of communication will therefore necessarily be a little lower through a call than if it were in-person. There may be a lag, or other audio issues. Therefore, (especially if you have a natural tendency to speak quickly) you should make an effort to speak a little slower and articulate words clearly. You should also practise active listening (offer verbal cues to show that you are following), and make sure not to interrupt your interviewers – always leave a small pause to make sure that they are finished and there isn’t any more audio to follow. Ensure that you convey core information clearly and succinctly – programs are a little more likely to be box-ticking, and have a little less time to really hone in candidates’ personalities – so cover the big questions in sufficient detail.

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You should also consider your style of answering questions. Through reflecting on the way that you answer questions, you can consider if it will work in a telephone interview – or whether you need to adjust it. Notably, if your style is heavily reliant on back-and-forth (if you provide a small amount of information, before checking in with the interviewer and continuing, or if you are prone to adopting an informal ‘chat’ approach) you may wish to change it slightly. Remember that there is likely to be at least some lag, or some other form of difficulty that may make this level of ‘natural’ conversation more difficult to attain. Therefore, you should focus on providing a complete response to each question – but try to avoid a monologue, and make sure to show that you are actively listening to what your interviewers are saying as well.

If your interview is via Zoom or other online software, you should be ready and used to this format – as it will have made up the majority of your initial interviews.

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