Assuming that you sent in your application in early September, you may begin receiving interview offers within a few weeks. Some programs start interviews as early as the middle of October, but most occur between early November and mid-December. Plan on the interview season mainly taking place from November 1 to December 21, with the peak season lasting from mid-November to mid-December. If at all possible, you should schedule a vacation during one of these months--you will be very, very thankful.
You will find out about most of your offers during the month of October. Most programs will e-mail you but some will call you. Be sure to check your e-mail and voice messages often and schedule your interviews as quickly as possible (some suggest within minutes of receiving the e-mail or phone message) as interview spots fill up fast. Most Urology applicants plan on interviewing at 10-15 programs if all goes well (the average was 10 interviews per applicant in the 2006 match--remember this includes people that didn't get any interviews at all!). Be appreciative of every interview offer you receive as each program usually gives out a total of only 30-45 interviews in a match season. It is reasonable to accept all your offers initially (and schedule them quickly, since interview dates will fill up, and you need all the flexibility you can possibly manage). If you end up receiving more offers than you plan on accepting, you can always cancel interviews. Please post your cancelled interviews on the UrologyMatch discussion board for the benefit of other applicants. It is considered good form, to cancel interviews at least 2 weeks in advance--programs will be much more understanding if you cancel with enough time for them to fill your interview slot. For a chairman's perspective on interview cancellation etiquette, we recommend that you read this post on the discussion board.
Scheduling your interviews will turn out to be more difficult than you expect. Many programs only offer two dates, and few offer more than four. Fridays and Saturdays (thankfully) end up being popular interview days, and, as you can imagine, there are a limited number of these days during the interview season. In other words, you may not be able to interview at all the programs you would like to. This makes scheduling interviews early all the more important since it gives you more flexibility. Most programs will make an effort to help you schedule your date such that it fits your travel schedule, but that doesn't always hold. And, unfortunately, only occasionally is there coordination with regard to interview dates among programs in a given city. One thing you can do to help your scheduling is to call program administrators before you even get an interview offer and ask what their dates are going to be (some also list interview dates on their website). Additionally, applicants post their interview dates on the UrologyMatch discussion board as they find them out, which provides some help in planning your schedule. The interview day can often be excruciatingly long and painful. Here is what to expect:
- Typically 8-16 interviewees on a given day (though there will be some with even more, and a few that only interview a couple candidates per day).
- An introduction from the program director and/or chair of the department outlining the program and faculty (a good thing if you didn't get around to reading the program's information on their website).
- Anywhere from five to ten interviews lasting 10-20 minutes with one or two (rarely, three) faculty members at a time. You may or may not have short breaks between interviews. Some places will have you just rotate from office to office, doing 8 interviews in less than two hours with no breaks between interviews.
- Time with residents, either between interviews or before or after the interview part of the day--take this opportunity to ask questions.
- A tour of the hospital(s)--also a good time to get info from residents.
- Lunch either at the hospital (usually catered) or at a nearby restaurant.
Some programs have a dinner the night before the interview day; very few have anything the night after the interview. And don't worry if you can't make it to one of these night-time activities which tend to be dinner with the residents and possible a few faculty members. They do provide a nice time to talk to residents, however. As far as talking to residents goes, 95% of the time, the residents will have no say on the admissions process and you can ask anything you would like. The caveats, however, are as follows: a) Certain schools include some of their residents in the process--they will usually let you know when this is true, but try to find out yourself if you think this is possibility; b) If you say something really stupid, word may get around.
The interviews themselves are 95% softball questions. The basics of why you chose urology, what you like to do, what you want to do with your life, research you have done, etc. . . The interviewers are just trying to get a sense of your personality, how articulate you are, and, as many will tell you, make sure you're not a sociopath. Other than that, most doctors aren't able to glean much information from the basic 10-20 minute interview. Every interview will include time for you to ask questions. Some interviews will, in fact, consist only of your questions. These can be hard, especially if you have already asked the same 3 or 4 questions to several other interviewers that day. Therefore, be prepared with plenty of questions .
The other 5% of questions you will get--the atypical ones--are still nearly always benign. Pimping almost never occurs, and these oddball questions can range from "Who was number 5 on the Yankees?" to "What do you read on the sh**ter?" Or, for example, if you say you are interested in research, you may be asked which programs you applied to have a research year. If you are female (though males will also very often get this question) you may be asked (quite illegally) your marital status, and often your intent to have children. Women should count on several of these questions at every interview. Overall, the best advice is to smile, stay composed, speak confidently and articulately, and try not to sound like you have answered every question 10 times already. There is absolutely no need to get anxious about your Urology interviews. The most difficult thing is to not tire as the day goes on, since you may be moving from room to room answering the same exact questions for several hours.