The application process for residency is a bit different compared to the US. First of all, the academic year starts in April instead of July. All applicants to the hospital are invited to either of the 2 interview dates/locations in August-September, one of them being in Tokyo for more convenient access for some applicants.
On the interview day, applicants have to take a written multiple choice test and essay (given that Japan does not have standardized exam results like the USMLE for residency application purposes) . Then, they undergo 3 panel interviews with each lasting 15 minutes. I am part of 1 panel and mainly assess for English skills.
It is to be noted that while 15 minutes is nowhere near enough time to evaluate on a candidate’s personality, they have all already visited the hospital for at least 3 days in the months prior to the interview so I have already met many of them beforehand and interacted with some of them for several hours.
The interview days are conducted either at a hotel’s conference rooms or at the hospital. One of the most striking differences I noted is that in each interview room, the applicant’s (lone) chair is placed in the center of a large room. Then, at one end of the room is a table that separates the applicant from the interviewers. When I first walked into the room, I myself was actually quite taken aback as it reminded me of an interrogation room. While I tried to move my chair out from around the desk so that I could speak to the applicant without the table between us, another interviewer came into the room; so ended my (semi) brave, rebellious attempt.
The applicant’s interview day schedules are set up so that we will be interviewing candidates back to back every 15 minutes a la speed-dating. In total, we interviewed about 20 students each day.
This experience is the first time for me to be the one interviewing others instead of vice versa. I now understand why my previous interviewers asked the questions that they did, especially with the all-time favorite, “So, tell me about yourself.” It also helped to solidify the advice that others have given me to “just be yourself” during interviews.
All in all, a great experience. Perhaps next time, I should perform mouth/cheek stretches beforehand so that my muscles wouldn’t get so sore by the end of the interview days.