Interview Season FAQS

  1. We try to adhere to coordinated application interview release, but as we have ~4-7 tracks/specialty-focused training programs with specific interview structures, faculty, & requirements, we can often only arrange interview dates to offer candidates an interview on a specific day to accommodate those needs – sometimes our invites are a bit restricted as a result
  2. The online survey we have is for informational purposes to help structure interview days for applicants, eg, if someone has an interest in global health we arrange additional faculty beyond our core interview team to meet with them – this is for informational purposes to plan the best possible interview-day experience for applicants
  3. Our MedDerm program has a specific requirement for a Chair or Chair-designee letter to have a comprehensive impression of medicine training performance
  4. Our D&CE track has a requirement for a specific paragraph at the end of the personal statement with a statement of purpose around this track
  5. All applications that are received in full and complete on time are reviewed by at least 4 people, and all completed applications are informed about interview yes/no/hold-waitlist.
  6. ANY incomplete application for any reason by the deadline will not be reviewed.
  7. We do not engage in communication with applicants during the review process. We recognize applications get updates – eg, papers go from submitted to accepted. Once applications are received, that is what we look at – no further communication or updates are required, and communication is discouraged.
  8. Couples matching applicants frequently (and understandably) are stressed about their significant others and them getting interviews at the same places; couples match status should be clearly indicated on ERAS. Generally, PDs at respective programs, if selecting a couple for an interview, will reach out directly to the other program that the other member of the couple is applying to and discuss this – outreach from candidates themselves is not generally required or recommended.
    1. To clarify, for full disclosure: it is fairly common if 2 applicants are couples matching for the PD of one program to inform the PD of the other program. If asynchronous couples match (eg, 1 member of a couple is already at an institution), it is reasonable to consider having the PD reach out to the other PD.
  9. Advocacy emails from faculty, sponsors, or supporters are a potential source of inequality and disparity. Students from home programs without a derm department may lack such a ‘champion.’ The ERAS supplemental application and preference signaling program were designed to obviate the need for this additional line of communication. The Association of Professors of Dermatology has put out statements and guidance strongly discouraging communication from faculty to programs pushing for additional review/consideration. Each match year, we receive 150-250 such emails. These are not incorporated into decision making around interviews and as per APD guidance are not necessary. 
  10. Penn has a large faculty, sponsors many rotators via a number of programs, grants, sponsorships, mentorships, and provides clinical and research opportunities to a large number of applicants. As we typically interview 48-60 candidates, we have more than that number of students spend time with us as rotating students, research students, or visitors. We cannot accommodate every visitor/student/researcher, and if we did do so, that would mean the only way to get an interview would be to rotate here or do research here, which is not an option for all students and would represent another barrier/disparity. Rotating here and doing research here provides education and training, and often some academic output (and frequently a strong LoR), but should not be viewed as a guarantee for an interview. It is​ viewed as ‘preference signaling’ and students who spend time here in that manner do not need to separately submit a preference signal token to Penn.
    1. Students who did rotate at Penn (clinical rotation or 1y of research experience) should remind their point of contact here to ensure the residency selection team is aware of the time they spent in our department, as ERAS does not have an easy method for students to indicate this.
  11. Preference Signaling (“Tokens”) are reviewed. ERAS supplemental application is reviewed. As these are newer features, the impact and weight of these components of the application remains unclear. We conduct holistic review of every complete application received on time. These additional pieces are also reviewed.
    1. We do routinely interview people who neither rotated here nor sent a preference signaling token. 
    2. Penn typically receives a very high number of signaling tokens (note: program has been in existence for 2 years as of the posting of this FAQ).
  12. We conduct holistic review of every application – initially reviewed by 2-4 faculty depending on type of application / track. Each track/program has a subcommittee review of applicants to that track. We have a number of subsequent meetings to compose a finalist list, and then the core interview committee reviews all applicants to ensure the interview invite list reflects the applicant pool, department missions, and various tracks/programs have a diverse array of candidates coming to interview.
  13. Thank you notes are not required after interviewing. They are not forbidden, and if you have a specific connection with someone, feel free to thank them – our faculty work very hard on the residency selection process! But it is not part of the review/match process.
    1. We do encourage students to thank their mentors, letter writers, and advocates, all of whom work very hard to support trainees, and on match day to let them know the outcome – often those faculty are not aware of the match results until many weeks later, unless students themselves share that information.
  14. Our website contains numerous links, sections with information about parts of the institution, program, and department, various tracks (and their requirements), and current and recent past residents / incoming residents, with videos about each track, life in Philadelphia, and more. We hope this provides additional information and a more fleshed out sense of Penn, Philadelphia, Penn Dermatology, our faculty, residents, and tracks, as you consider where to do residency.
  15. Good luck, take good care of patients, work hard, learn, and do good things. Matching is stressful – do not let it overwhelm you. We look forward to having you all as colleagues in the fantastic field of dermatology.