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  • Writer's pictureMichael Dworkin, MD

Tricks to help you avoid missing an interview invite

Interview invites will soon trickle into your inbox. Spots will go fast, and some invites will go to junk mail. Here are some tips on on how to set up your email for success this interview season.

Reply to interview invites ASAP

Spots may go within minutes especially in smaller fields or at smaller programs with few interview dates. A delayed reply to an invite may mean that you miss out on your preferred interview date. Worse, it may mean in some cases that you'll have to be put on the interview wait-list.

What to say when accepting or declining an interview invite

Just be courteous and very thankful. E.g., "Dear X, Thanks so much for the invite! The 11/12/2018 interview date works for me. Thanks again! Sincerely, Your Name.". Remember, your "interview" actually starts with your first correspondence to the program. If you are rude to the program coordinator, it may be remembered. Be a nice person.

Use a personal email account on your ERAS application

Interview invites will be sent to the email-address you list on ERAS. Your med school email account may 1) have additional junk mail filtering features that may prevent some invites from going to your inbox or 2) not be configurable to receive push notifications.

Use push to make sure your smartphone gets emails immediately as they are sent

Your email account may be configured to only refresh when you open your mail app or may only refresh periodically every so often. Push is a mail setting that makes sure you're notified immediately as your email is received by the mail server.

On iPhone, go to Settings>Accounts & Passwords > Fetch New Data. Turn on the Push toggle for your ERAS email account.

For Samsung and Android users, check out this article to set up Push.

iPhone/iPad Users: Set up VIP Contacts

Tagging a contact as a VIP helps you assign a unique ringtone or vibration when a VIP email is received.

You'll want to add,, and as VIPs as detailed below.

If you've already received an email from one of these addresses, do the following. On iPhone, open the email from the VIP email address. In the "From:" line at the very top of the email, click the blue link. A contact card will pop up. Click "Add to VIP".

If you haven't gotten an email from one of these addresses yet, do the following. On iPhone/iPad, go to contacts. Click the plus sign to add a new contact. Enter a first name, e.g., ERAS. Tap "add email" and enter the VIP email, e.g., Repeat this for the other VIP emails as well.

Next, go to the Mail app. In the upper right hand corner of the screen , click edit. Go down to the row titled "VIP". Tap the blue empty circle to the left of the word VIP. There should now be a check mark in the blue circle. Tap "Done" in the upper right corner. You should now see VIP among all of your other mailboxes in your Mail app. Tap the icon next to the VIP row of your list of mailboxes. On the resulting screen, tap "Add VIP...". This will bring up your list of contacts. Tap a VIP contact. Repeat for the other VIP contacts.

iPhone/iPad Users: Set up VIP Alerts

Go to the Mail app. Tap the icon next to the VIP row of your list of mailboxes. At the bottom of the page, tap "VIP Alerts". This will take you into the notification settings window. Scroll down and tap "Mail". Make sure the "Allow Notifications" toggle is turned on. Tap "VIP". Make sure that the "Show in Notification Center", and "Show on Lock Screen", and "Badge App Icon" options are toggled to on. Tap "Sounds" . This will open a new window that allows you to select a unique sound and vibration to assign to VIP contacts. Under "ALERT TONES" tap the tone you want. Choose one that is different than your other alert sounds. Click "Vibration". Scroll down to the bottom and click "Create New Vibration". Tap out a custom vibration with your finger. Click "Save". Type in a name for the new vibration, e.g., "VIP".

Now, during interview season, as long as you have your phone on you, you'll get immediate and identifiable notifications that you've received an interview invite (even if your phone is on vibrate mode!).

Other methods

You may choose to have certain emails forward to your phone via SMS. I don't prefer this method as many areas of hospitals have poor cell reception but strong WiFi.

Have a family member or significant other monitor your email account. You can set up the above features on your significant other or family member's phone and have them reply to invites for you if you're, for example, planning on being scrubbed into a surgery.

Manual checking

Despite the above tricks, some invites won't be from one of the aforementioned VIP email addresses. Some programs manually send invites out via the program coordinator. These will usually go to your regular inbox. It is rare that invites go to the spam folder, but it can happen, so just make sure to periodically manually check your ERAS email account's spam folder (e.g., a couple times per day).

Final thoughts

For more tips, check out our blog at

Enjoy your interview season!


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