Post-interview Communication

Post-interview communication is an important issue. Ethical conduct is often misunderstood on both the sides. The general rules of the match state that programs can contact you by letter at any time and vice versa.

1) Thank-you notes: Should you send them? Absolutely. Should they be handwritten or typed? Sent to everyone or just the chair and program director? These questions are harder, but thankfully, less important. Sending a note to let the program know that you enjoyed your visit demonstrates a modicum of gratitude, respect and thoughtfulness. Please fight the urge to send the same email to multiple members of the faculty.  They do talk to one another, and the lack of originality will likely be noted.

2) Telling programs where you are ranking them: Should you tell your No. 1 program where they rank? Definitely – it can only help you. Should you tell multiple programs you are ranking them No. 1? Absolutely not – this is dishonest, and as previously stated, people talk in the small world of neurosurgery. The key question is what to do about your other programs. Should you tell all your programs that they are “highly ranked?” Again, this would be dishonest, and integrity is paramount in any surgeon.  How you approach this issue is ultimately up to you and what you consider ethical. Of course, programs often assume you are lying when you use these terms, not to mention that using a phrase like “highly ranked” may come off as “not No. 1.” You have to go with what you think is appropriate for yourself and the programs you applied to.

3) Revisits/Second looks: After you are done interviewing, you may consider revisiting your top choices. Many programs will explicitly invite you during your interview to do so. A revisit shows interest but is certainly not required. It is more for the applicant than the program. Programs understand the financial constraints that most applicants are under. Usually, a second look will not help most top-tier applicants, though they may help those who had a so-so interview. If you are very interested in a program, it is worth asking the residents how important the revisit is to the admissions committee. To arrange a revisit, contact the program director, and plan to scrub into a case or two with the chair (it is definitely worth revisiting on the day when the chair and program director are available).

4) The final lap: This is the period in early January after you have finished your interviews, sent in your thank-you notes and crafted your preliminary rank list. It is reasonable to send a last-minute note to the top two or three programs on your rank list to reiterate your interest in these programs (particularly your No. 1). Also, it may be reasonable to have your mentor chair of your home program make a call to your first-choice program at this time.

Thank You Letter Sample and Guidelines

Basic Principles

  • Thank them for the interview.
  • Tell them what you perceive as their strengths.
  • Match that with your strengths.
  • Thank them again.

Dear Dr. XXXXX,

I greatly enjoyed my interview experience last week at XXXX. Thank you very much for your hospitality. Your commitment to training leaders in neurosurgery is evident. The well-rounded surgical experience and research opportunities that are afforded to your residents are extremely impressive, and the achievements of your graduates speak for themselves. I was greatly attracted to the atmosphere of camaraderie that unmistakably pervades your residency program. XXXX’s location is also ideal, as my family is in the area.

My interest in both clinical care and research makes your program especially attractive. Having been involved both in basic science and clinical investigations, I have found research to be a compelling and productive adjunct to clinical training and believe that I could become an asset to your research program.

Again, I had a great day interviewing at XXX and left XX(City)XX with a very positive feeling. I would be honored to train at XXXX and would strive to further such an outstanding program. Please contact me if I can provide you with any additional information about my candidacy.