Guide to Creating Strong Letters of Interest

Once you are done applying, candidates often experience anxiety over the waiting period. Many applicants believe that all you can do is wait to see if you receive interviews and ultimately a Match. However, there are some methods that can be used to increase chances at an interview, or a successful Match. Letters of Interest are a helpful tool to make your application stand out post applying!

What is a Letter of Interest?

Letters of Interest are typically sent out about a month after the ERAS application gets released to programs. If applying late, you should wait at least 1-2 weeks after you send your application. The goal with a Letter of Interest is to get your application reviewed further and, in turn, secure more interviews. You can send these to your top 5-20 program choices, but make sure each letter is specific to the program you are sending it to.

Another way to use Letters of Interest is to inform programs of any updates to your application. Often times USMLE scores may be released after your application is sent out, so you can follow up with a Letter of Interest to not only express your strong interest in the program, but highlight changes to your application that may help your chances at obtaining an interview. 

Tips on Writing a Letter of Interest

To begin, every single residency Letter of Interest needs to be mostly focused on the specific reasons for your interest in the residency program. It should be about 200-500 words. Keep it concise, specific, and engaging. Remember, it’s best to send to both the Program Coordinator and Program Director.

Remember, these reasons should not be generic or vague. For example, don’t just focus on the program’s Mission and Values, or the fact that they foster an atmosphere of teamwork and camaraderie. Only discuss these if you can vouch for such attributes through personal experience.

Of course, the more details you can add, the better. These could include specific research projects, training tracks, elective rotations, special opportunities, resident programs, and geographic preferences, as examples. Don’t forget, make sure to explore any topic you bring up in detail and how it relates to you personally, rather than just listing attributes.

You should include the below details:

  • Opening with the specific names of those addressed
  • Most importantly, the specific reasons for your interest in the program
  • Next, the experiences and strengths you’re bringing to the table
  • Then, how you plan to contribute to the program
  • Finally, an invitation to look further into your ERAS Application and hopes for interview consideration
  • In signature, include:
    • Your Professional ERAS Photograph
    • Your AAMC ID
  • You may attach a version of your CV in the email for quick reference if you’d like

Important Mistakes to Avoid

It is important that each Letter of Interest that you write is NOT from a template, or recycled between programs. If you send a letter that seems generic, it may actually end up hurting your application rather than helping.

If you have sent program signals or used geographic preferences, you should not miss the opportunity to use Letters of Interest to reinforce your choices. You can even indicate in the Letter of Interest that you have sent them a program signal, or that they are in your geographically preferred area. 

If you’d like assistance putting the polishing touches on your Letters of Interest, Residency Experts is here to ensure maximum impact. Sign in or Register with Residency Experts for Professional Optimization! Questions or comments? You can call (858)-221-8580 or send an email to support@residencyexperts.com.