Interviews usually run from mid-October through the end of January. Most schools allow students to take 1 month off for interviews. When choosing this month, keep in mind that you will want to build in time to prepare for the interview – review each program’s website, do a mock interview with an advisor, etc. It's a good idea to try to get all of your interviews in one area of the country done in one trip, but don't get too concerned about that. More than 3 interviews in a week severely limits your ability to care about the impression you make, not to mention that all of the programs start to run together. I also recommend interviewing at your favorite schools in the first half of your interview trail, because you will likely burn out at the end and start canceling interviews. Make sure you schedule your interviews as soon as you receive the invitation - many of the more prestigious programs fill up very fast.
Drive to as many interviews as possible to save money. If they are far away, there are many travel websites that enable you to find the best fares. Also, it can be very costly to part at the airport. Many airports have nearby “parking companies” that allow you to park for a discounted rate and take a shuttle to the airport. Just make sure that the area is safe. As far as hotels go, try to find one that offers a continental breakfast. Some programs don't provide breakfast at interviews, and I was always starving by lunch time. Some programs will offer discounts at local hotels. Some hotels will even offer a shuttle to/from the airport and to/from the hospital. These options allow you to save money, because you won't need to rent a car. Another option is to ask the program if any residents are willing to host applicants. Some programs are receptive, some aren't, but it doesn't hurt to ask. This can save you quite a bit of money.
Fortunately, most residency interviews are much more laid back than medical school interviews. In fact, the most difficult part was coming up with enough questions to ask the interviewer about his/her program. Most schools interview within one day, and some will schedule a dinner with residents the night before. Though this feels more casual, be on your best behavior. The resident(s) who take you out to dinner often give feedback to the program about the time they spent with you. A few programs actually have 2 day interviews. I interviewed with anywhere from 2 to 9 interviewers in one day. Basically, the faculty want to make sure that what they see on paper matches you in person, and they want to find out if you are a good fit for their program. Make sure you come up with 2 or 3 psychiatry patients you found interesting or challenging. I was asked about that a number of times. What did you learn from the patient? How did they influence your decision to go into psychiatry? Also know why you chose the field of psychiatry. Know your career goals well. I recommend setting up a mock or practice interview with an attending or resident – that was by far my most difficult interview of all. Also create a list of questions to ask both residents and attendings. At the beginning of the interview trail, I actually pulled out my list and referred to it. By the end of the trail, I knew it from memory. Below are examples of questions to ask. Make sure you don’t ask anything that is readily available on the program’s website. Also, be careful about asking too many “lifestyle” questions (e.g., about benefits, vacation time, etc.), or else you may look like you are more focused on benefits than education/training.