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Residency Interviews Blog

Residency Interview Preparation Guide 2024

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How to Prepare for Residency Interviews? Residency Interview Preparation Guide 2024

Acing your residency interview is a critical part of the residency match process 🏆. However, preparing for residency interviews can be daunting 😩. Our comprehensive guide 📙 on residency interview preparation makes it easy! We’ve compiled guaranteed strategies from matched 💪 residents and attendings that will help you prepare for your residency interview and answer the most commonly asked questions during this stressful process.

Table of Contents:

Why are residency interviews important? Do interviews matter for residency?

Residency interviews are extremely important in the residency match process. They are a bit like going on a meaningful date in the world of medicine. For the programs, it’s their chance to meet the face behind the application. They’re assessing if you’re someone they’d like to work side-by-side handling high-pressure situations, collaborating with colleagues, and caring for patients.

On the flip side, these interviews are your golden ticket to peek behind the curtain. You get to witness first-hand the culture, the people, and the fit with the program.

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How do I prepare for a residency interview?

  1. Identify Your Unique Strengths It’s essential to identify and understand your own strengths whether it’s significant research experience, clinical exposure, or standout extracurriculars. Build Your Strengths List by writing down all your notable attributes and experiences. Reflect on what makes you unique and how these strengths align with the role of a resident. Then tailor your answer to the Program by considering which strengths align best with their values and requirements.

  2. Bullet Points Over Scripts: Instead of drafting full answers, outline the primary points you intend to discuss. Having clear points will guide your responses but avoid memorizing word-for-word answers (to avoid sounding robotic). Then use personal stories and experiences next to each bullet point to substantiate your claims.

  3. Show, Don’t Tell: Avoid making blanket statements about your abilities such as “I am a hard worker”, or “I am a team player”. Provide concrete examples and narrate specific instances that exemplify these traits, letting your experiences speak for your qualities.

  4. Do your research: Familiarize yourself with the program and the faculty you’re interviewing with. You can find relevant information on the program website, the faculty online profiles, or the program’s social media platforms. This knowledge allows you to align your strengths and answers with what the program values, positioning you as a good FIT for the residency program.

  5. Capitalize on Every Question: Every question is an opportunity to shed light on your skills, accomplishments, and character. Use real-life experiences from your clinical rotations or research or hobbies to provide an insight into your journey and what you can offer to the program.

  6. Everything on Your CV is a Fair Game: Be ready to discuss every detail on your CV. If there’s something on your ERAS CV you’re not comfortable discussing, it’s best to leave it out.
  1. Authenticity Matters: Amidst all preparations, your genuine self should shine through. Programs are looking for individuals they can work with over several years. Allow the interviewer to understand who you are as a person and why would be a good fit for the personality of the program.
  1. The Interview is a Two-Way Street: While the program evaluates you, it’s also your chance to evaluate the program. Ask informed questions. This helps you assess if the program aligns with your goals and values.
  1. Practice, Practice, Practice: Especially the commonly asked questions we will highlight below. This helps you refine your responses, show confidence, and convey your strengths and qualities. Record yourself answering residency interview questions and review your performance paying attention to your tone, body language, and your answers.
  1. Seek Professional Guidance: Your interview is your only shot at a particular program. Do not waste it. You might think your answers are amazing and mind-blowing but in reality, they are not. An expert can provide objective feedback, helping you present your best self. Mentors or peers who’ve been through the process can offer invaluable feedback. You should even consider professional interview coaching, which can provide structured feedback and techniques to handle challenging questions.
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What are the commonly asked residency interview questions?

  1. Tell me about yourself
  2. Why are you interested in the specialty (you are applying to)?
  3. Your strengths/ Why should we select you?
  4. What are your weaknesses?
  5. Why did you apply to our program?
  6. What are your career goals?
  7. What do you like to do in your free time?
  8. Questions about items in your CV
  9. Behavioral questions
  10. Do you have any questions for me?

These were the commonly asked residency interview questions. However, there are endless possibilities of questions and scenarios you might get during your residency interview. That is why we prepared a full blog about 200+ residency interview questions.

200+ Residency Interview Questions
Now let’s go into the details of some of the most commonly asked residency interview questions and how to answer them.

Tell me about yourself! How do you introduce yourself in a residency interview?

The “tell me about yourself” question will probably be the most common question you encounter in a residency interview. It is usually asked at the beginning of the interview, serving as your personal elevator pitch. It’s a golden opportunity to present a curated narrative that encapsulates your strengths, aspirations, and fit for the program. While it might seem like a casual icebreaker, this question is your chance to sell yourself, positioning you not just as another candidate, but as a valuable addition who brings unique experiences and perspectives to the table. Approach it with strategy, authenticity, and confidence, ensuring you make a compelling and memorable first impression.

Here are some tailored tips for answering the “Tell me about yourself” question during a residency interview:

1. Start with Your Educational Background:

    • Begin by providing a brief overview of your medical education journey. Highlight any particularly pivotal moments or experiences that steered you toward your chosen specialty.

2. Discuss Relevant Clinical Experiences:

    • Focus on rotations, clerkships, or any clinical experiences that reinforced your passion for the specialty you’re interviewing for. These should illustrate both your competence and your enthusiasm.

3. Highlight Research or Extracurriculars:

    • If you’ve been involved in research, especially if it’s pertinent to the specialty, mention it. Similarly, any extracurricular activities that showcase leadership, teamwork, or other desirable traits can be beneficial to discuss.

4. Personal Attributes and Soft Skills:

    • Beyond clinical skills, programs are often interested in interpersonal dynamics. Mention attributes that make you a good team player, communicator, or leader.

       

5. Why this program:

    • You can mention a few characteristics of the program that appealed to you and how aspects of the program align with what you are looking for.

6. Conclude with Personal Touches:

    • While the focus should be professional, adding a brief personal touch can make your introduction memorable. This could be a hobby, a personal achievement, or a short anecdote that shaped your professional journey.

7. Structure is Key:

    • Organize your answer to have a clear beginning, middle, and end. This will ensure you provide a concise yet comprehensive response without meandering.

8. Practice but Don’t Memorize:

    • While it’s essential to prepare, aim to sound natural and conversational rather than rehearsed. Remember, the question is an invitation to share your story, not recite a script.

9. Align with the Program’s Values:

    • If you’re familiar with the values or particular aspects of the residency program, subtly align parts of your answer to resonate with them. This shows you’ve done your homework and see a fit between your aspirations and the program’s goals.

Remember, the “Tell me about yourself” question is an opportunity to present a well-rounded picture of yourself, highlighting both your professional journey and the personal qualities that make you a valuable addition to a residency program.

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Do you have an example of a sample answer for the “tell me about yourself” question?

Here is a sample answer for how you should introduce yourself during a residency interview:

Hello! I am originally from Indonesia, where my family has been farming for generations. While I did spend many days in the fields and was intrigued by agriculture, I was always more passionate about academics, especially science and technology. My parents recognized this passion early on and, despite our humble beginnings, they went to great lengths to support my dream, even taking out loans so I could attend medical school at University Hospital. By my fourth year there, I was certain that Internal Medicine was the path for me.

I started internal medicine residency in Indonesia and right after I finished my residency, life took an interesting turn when my husband was offered a position with Amazon, and we found ourselves relocating to the US. To familiarize myself with the healthcare system here, I began working as a medical scribe and assistant at Jacob’s Hospital in Michigan. Additionally, I’ve had the opportunity to gain clinical experience in various specialties across the country, from cardiology and infectious disease to GI and endocrinology in the form of US Clinical Experiences.

Outside of the medical world, I’m quite an avid golfer. And when I’m not on the golf course, you’ll likely find me spending quality time with my husband and our adorable Corgi, Kokomo.

It’s been quite the journey so far, and I’m excited about what the future holds!

Get access to our compendium of residency interview questions and answers!

Why are you interested in this specialty?

The “Why this specialty?” question is a critical juncture in a residency interview, offering candidates the chance to showcase their depth of understanding and commitment to their chosen field. It’s more than just expressing interest; it’s about demonstrating that you’ve thoroughly contemplated the journey ahead, acknowledging both the challenges and rewards. Answering this question convincingly communicates that you’re not just chasing a fleeting interest, but are genuinely prepared and passionate about embarking on the unique path the specialty offers, having grasped its intricacies and demands.

Here are some tips to craft a compelling response:

1. Personal Connection:

    • Reflect on any personal experiences or pivotal moments that drew you to the specialty. Perhaps a particular patient encounter or a medical event in your life inspired you. Sharing a personal story can make your answer more relatable and memorable. However, avoid mentioning a single patient interaction as the sole reason you want to go into a specialty. Although patient interactions can spark your interest in a specialty, it is unlikely that they are the only reason you want to pursue a certain field.

2. Highlight Clinical Experiences:

    • Mention specific rotations, cases, or interactions during your medical training that solidified your interest in the specialty. These examples can demonstrate both your experience and your commitment.

3. Avoid Generic Reasons:

    • Talk about why you are excited about the specialty based on your experiences working in that field.
    • For instance, if the program director asks, Why are you interested in internal medicine, avoid statements like: “Internal medicine is the best specialty because you can use both clinical knowledge and evidence-based medicine to treat patients”.
    • This answer isn’t wrong, but it’s too generic. It would be best if you give an answer that is specific to you and based on YOUR experience. Here is an example:
    • “Working on the internal medicine floor as a third-year medical student, I was fascinated by the complexity and diversity of pathologies I saw, as well as the interplay between clinical knowledge and evidence-based medicine. Everyone’s input was valued and listened to, which made me feel like a true member of the team”.
    • You can see the difference between these two statements; the first talks about generic aspects of the specialty, while the second one specifies experiences the applicant went through during their third-year rotation.
    • While income, lifestyle, and job opportunities might influence decisions, try to focus on deeper, more intrinsic motivations that go beyond surface-level perks.

4. Connect with Program Values:

    • If you’re familiar with the program’s clinical strengths, subtly weave in how your interest in the specialty aligns with the program’s mission or values. If your primary motivation to pursue general surgery is your passion for liver transplants, emphasizing this during an interview with a program that doesn’t do any liver transplants might not position you as an ideal candidate for them

5. Align Skills and Interests:

    • Discuss how your innate skills and interests align with the demands and nuances of the specialty.

Remember, your goal is to convey genuine enthusiasm for the specialty, backed by experiences and insights that demonstrate both your commitment and your understanding of what the specialty truly entails.

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What are your strengths?

What are your strengths? Why should we choose you? What makes you a unique residency candidate or what makes you stand out? These are all different formats of the same question, offering candidates a platform to set themselves apart and express why they should be chosen for this job.

Answering this question effectively not only sells your qualifications but underscores your suitability for the specific role. By highlighting strengths aligned with the demands of the residency, you illustrate your readiness and adaptability. This question is more than a self-assessment; it’s a strategic opportunity to position yourself as the ideal candidate for the program, emphasizing how your unique strengths align with the program’s needs and objectives. 

1. Support with Examples:

    • Don’t just list attributes; substantiate them with real-life scenarios from your medical training. For example, if teamwork is a strength, you might describe a successful group project or a time you collaborated in a high-pressure clinical situation.

2. Tailor to Specialty and Program:

    • Choose strengths that are directly relevant to the specialty and the program you are applying to. For example, if you’re applying to Emergency Medicine, highlighting your ability to work in a high-stress environment could be a pertinent strength. If you’re applying for a program that has significant focus on research, highlighting your research skills will make you stand out.

3. Highlight Soft Skills:

    • While clinical knowledge and technical skills are crucial, don’t forget the importance of interpersonal skills. Communication, empathy, and resilience often play pivotal roles in a medical setting.

4. Avoid Arrogance:

    • While it’s essential to convey your strengths assertively, avoid coming across as arrogant. Acknowledge that there’s always room for growth and that you’re eager to further hone your strengths during residency.

5. Avoid Overused Terms:

    • Phrases like “hard-working” or “dedicated” are commonly cited. While they’re valuable traits, try to delve deeper or provide a unique spin to set yourself apart.

In essence, when articulating your strengths, aim to present a genuine, well-rounded portrait of your capabilities, supported by tangible experiences, that resonates with the demands and ethos of the residency program. After you answer this question, the interviewer should believe you would be a good fit for the job, for the residency spot.  

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How do you answer what is your weakness in residency interviews?

Addressing the “What is your weakness?” question in interviews is more than just a formality. It’s an opportunity to showcase your self-awareness, honesty, and commitment to continuous learning and self-improvement. You might also be asked about academic weaknesswa such as “Why did you fail STEP 2 CK?” or “Why do you have a gap between graduating from medical school and applying to residency?”

By thoughtfully addressing these questions, candidates convey their readiness to evolve, adapt, and grow throughout their medical journey.

Here are some tips on how to address “your weakness” question during a residency interview:

1. Avoid Clichés:

    • Opt for a genuine weakness over clichés like “I’m too perfectionistic.” Authenticity is key. Find an actual weakness you are working on to become a better person.

2. Choose Relevant Yet Non-Critical Weaknesses:

    • Select a weakness that is relevant to the medical field but not one that would question your capability to function as a resident. For example, never say that you often lose your temper and shout at patients, because program directors would immediately question your ability to take care of patients.

3. Addressing Academic Weakness:

    • Sometimes, you are asked about a specific weakness on your CV such as a failure on STEP 2 CK or score or a big gap between medical school and applying to residency.

    • Instead of merely focusing on the setback, emphasize the proactive steps taken post-challenge: perhaps it was additional training, targeted study approaches, or seeking mentorship. Highlight any subsequent achievements or improvements, like a higher score on a subsequent exam, as tangible evidence of your determination and capacity to bounce back. By doing so, you transform potential red flags into demonstrations of grit, perseverance, and a commitment to excellence.

4. Reframe Positively:

    • Some recommend presenting the weakness in a way that also highlights a positive aspect. For example, “I can sometimes be overly detail-oriented, which at times slows me down, but ensures thoroughness in patient care.”

5. Highlight Growth and Adaptation:

    • Frame your weakness with what you’re doing to overcome or manage it. For example, if your weakness is time management, mention strategies or tools you’ve started using to improve.

6. Be Brief and Direct:

    • While it’s important to provide context, avoid dwelling too long on the weakness. State it, discuss how you’re addressing it, and be ready to move on.

7. End on a Forward-looking Note:

    • Conclude by emphasizing your commitment to continuous learning and personal development, underscoring your proactive approach to bettering yourself.

Remember, the intent behind this question is often to gauge self-awareness, humility, and a commitment to professional growth, rather than to pinpoint actual deficiencies.

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Why do you want to train at this program?

A thoughtful, well-articulated answer to the “why do you want to train here” question not only showcases a candidate’s genuine interest but emphasizes the synergy between their goals and what the program offers. In essence, it acts as a testament to the candidate’s potential fit and commitment, highlighting their suitability not just as a resident, but as a future alum and ambassador of the program.

Here are some tips to consider:

1. Do Your Research:

    • Before the interview, thoroughly research the program. You must prepare an answer specific to the strengths and goals of each program; you can’t have a vague, one-fits-all statement. Highlight unique aspects such as their clinical strengths, curriculum, faculty, research opportunities, or community involvement that genuinely appeal to you.

2. Training Opportunities:

    • Emphasize specific training opportunities the program offers that align with your career aspirations. Residency is a clinical job, and each program will include a range of clinical experiences. Take time to learn what they are and relate the program’s clinical strengths to your sub-specialty or areas of interest.
    • If you have a strong interest in research, mention it and make sure to cite the program’s focus on providing research-based opportunities to residents as a specific draw for you.

3. Location and Environment:

    • While it shouldn’t be the primary focus, mentioning the appeal of the program’s location, facilities, or supportive environment can be valuable. This could range from proximity to family to opportunities for outdoor activities or cultural experiences.

4. Success Stories and Outcomes:

    • If the program has notable alumni, a high match rate into a fellowship you are interested in, or other success metrics, and these appeal to you, bring them up as part of your rationale.

5. Personal Connection:

    • If you’ve had previous rotations or interactions with the program and had a positive experience, mention it. Personal experiences can lend authenticity to your response.

6. Future Vision:

    • Discuss how you see the program fitting into your long-term goals. Perhaps the program is strong in an area you’re passionate about, or it offers unique opportunities that can shape your future career.

7. Core Values Alignment:

    • Identify and mention how the program’s core values align with your personal and professional values. This demonstrates that you’re not just looking for any residency but specifically value what this program offers.

Ultimately, your goal should be to convey a deep understanding of what the program offers and how it aligns with your personal and professional goals, ensuring that the interviewers see you as a natural fit for their community.

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What are the commonly asked behavioral questions during a residency interview?

Behavioral questions during a residency interview can be divided into themes: interactions with a team member, challenging situations, personal attributes (team player, leader, etc), and patient interactions. You might still get scenarios outside these 4 categories, but these are generally asked because they reflect your everyday life as a resident. Here are some examples of commonly asked behavioral questions:

  1. Tell me about a situation where you had a conflict with a resident/attending/medical student/nurse/physician assistant and how you handled that
  2. How do you deal with someone who disagrees with you?
  3. Tell me about a stressful situation you went through and how you overcame it
  4. Burnout is common in medicine. What do you do to avoid burnout?
  5. Tell me about a challenge you overcame during medical school
  6. Tell me about a mistake you made in medical school and what you learned from it
  7. Tell me about a situation during medical school which demonstrates your team player skills
  8. Tell me about a situation that demonstrates you’re a hard worker
  9. Tell me about a situation where you learned something from a patient
  10. Tell me about the most difficult clinical scenario you had to deal with

For a longer list of possible behavioral questions you might encounter on your residency interview, check out our blog of 200+ residency interview questions HERE.

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How to answer behavioral questions in residency interviews?

You might ask yourself, why do I get asked behavioral questions on a residency interview? Well, the interviewer wants examples of how you reacted to certain situations in the past, so that they can have a better idea of how you would react to similar situations in the future, during actual residency. So, when responding, remember to showcase attributes that highlight your capability and suitability for a resident role. You wouldn’t want to convey any traits or actions that might cast doubts about your ability to excel both in the clinical aspects and interpersonal dynamics of a resident’s responsibilities.

The CARL method (Context, Action, Result, Learning) is a four-part strategy to build your story for behavioral residency questions.

Context: Provides the background. Where were you, and what was your role? This gives the interviewer an understanding of the circumstances and environment. Give enough detail so the listener understands the context but be concise. This part should not be more than 25=35% of your answer.

Action: What did you do? Highlight your part in solving the problem. Explain how you used empathy, problem-solving skills, and/or logic as well as other tactics to solve the issue at hand. This part demonstrates your decision-making process and problem-solving ski

Result: What happened as a result of your actions? Showcase your ability to bring problems to a close in a positive manner. This part can demonstrate the success, the effectiveness of the approach, or even instances where the desired result wasn’t achieved but provided a learning experience.

Learning: What did you learn, and how would you apply that in the future? Reflect on your ability to introspect, learn from experiences, and implement those learnings in future situations. This step is crucial as it displays a commitment to personal and professional growth.

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Do you have an example of a sample answer for a behavioral question?

Here is a sample answer for the following behavioral residency interview question:

Tell me about a time you were in a conflict and how you resolved it.

Context: During my research year, I set up a collaboration with another lab to help us with histology and immunohistochemical staining for my project. Originally, we had an informal agreement that the graduate student we were collaborating with would be a middle author when we published our findings. But as the project took shape, she did so much more than I initially realized. She reached out to me later, suggesting she might be considered as a first author because of all the work she put in.

Action: Admittedly, my initial reaction was a bit defensive. After all, I’d been steering the project. But instead of jumping to conclusions, we decided to sit, discuss, and genuinely listen to each other’s perspectives. Over a coffee chat, she detailed her contributions, and it dawned on me that her request was wholly justified.

Result: We concluded that co-first authorship was the fairest recognition for both our efforts. It wasn’t just about assigning credit; it was about understanding and valuing the work we both poured into the project.

Learning: This experience reinforced the importance of open communication and appreciating everyone’s role. We continue to work together, fostering a bond built on mutual respect and understanding.

Get access to our compendium of residency interview questions and answers!

Tips for answering behavioral residency interview questions:

  1. Prepare yourself for as many residency behavioral questions as possible. Reflect on your life and brainstorm interesting stories about times you faced a challenge, led a team, etc. Remembering relevant stories on the interview day is much harder!

  2. Highlight Positives, Tactfully Address Negatives: Unless explicitly asked about a mistake or a failure, focus on positive outcomes and learnings. Even if discussing a challenge, highlight what you learned or how you grew from the experience.

  3. Choose Your Stories Wisely: Every question is an opportunity. Be strategic in selecting stories that spotlight your strengths, values, and compatibility with the residency.

  4. Do not memorize: Prepare bullet points to guide the flow of your stories, but do not write out all the details. Otherwise, you risk sounding too rehearsed.

  5. Relevance is key: Relate your stories to strengths you want to highlight or experiences within the specialty you are applying to. For example, if you are applying to general surgery, share your encounter with a patient on the surgery floor or in the operating room. This will remind the interviewer that you have already had some meaningful surgical experiences. If asked about a situation that demonstrates your teamwork skills and you want to highlight your research experience, you can talk about a time when you collaborated with another lab and how you effectively worked together.

  6. Depth Over Surface: When answering questions like, “Tell me about a time you helped someone,” delve deeper than superficial acts. Instead of mentioning a one-off charitable act, discuss instances where you formed meaningful connections or made lasting impacts. For instance, reaching out to a struggling peer not only displays empathy but also highlights your ability to notice and act on the subtler cues around you.
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Should you ask questions at the end of your residency interview?

Yes, you should definitely ask questions at the end of your residency interview. Asking thoughtful questions can demonstrate your genuine interest in the program, show that you’ve done your homework, and help you assess if the residency is the right fit for your professional and personal growth. Additionally, it provides an opportunity to express your strengths and engage with the interviewers on a deeper level.

How can I use my question to express certain strengths?

For example, bringing up your previous research at the end of your residency interview (if not discussed already) can be a strategic move. You can ask something like: I have an interest in assessing the surgical outcomes of breast reconstruction and have published multiple papers about that. Are there opportunities in this program to help me nurture this interest?

This question not only highlights your academic and research achievements but also expresses a proactive interest in continuing such endeavors at the prospective institution. If the interviewer is also involved in research, this can spark a deeper, more meaningful conversation, making you memorable and allowing you to forge a connection based on mutual interests. It showcases your commitment to contributing knowledge to the field, which can be a valuable asset for any residency program.

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Tips for questions to ask program directors

Do your research: One of the biggest mistakes you can make is asking questions with answers that are readily available on the program’s website. It may give an impression of lack of preparation. Browse through the program’s website, alumni testimonials, recent publications from the department, and any other relevant resources. Familiarize yourself with the basics and the nuances.

Know the program: Demonstrate your knowledge of the program by asking questions that build upon what you already know (from information available online and during the introduction session). This indicates genuine interest and a proactive approach.

Aim for understanding: While the interview is an opportunity for the program to get to know you, it’s equally an opportunity for you to get to know them. Gather as much information as you can to make an informed decision when ranking programs.

Understand the program’s vision: Understand not just the current state but also where the program aims to be in the future. Questions about upcoming changes, expansions, or any novel initiatives can offer deeper insights.

Residents vs. Faculty: The questions you ask residents are generally different than those you ask faculty. While questions for residents tend to be more focused on the lived experience of the program, questions for faculty should aim to uncover the broader academic, clinical, and philosophical underpinnings of the residency.

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What questions to ask at the end of residency interviews? What are common questions you can ask residency programs during Interviews?

  1. What are the strengths of this program?
  2. What would you like to change about the program in the coming years?
  3. Have there been any changes in the program recently based on the residents’ feedback?
  4. If you were in my shoes, would you choose to train at this program? And why?
  5. I’m interested in head and neck reconstruction. How is the exposure to these types of surgeries?
  6. I’m interested in identifying ways to improve healthcare disparities. What resources does your program offer to help me achieve that?
  7. I’m interested in a critical care fellowship. What percentage of the residents go into this fellowship?
  8. How would you describe a resident that would fit in well in this program?

For a full detailed list of possible questions you can ask residency program directors and residents at the end of the interview, check out our blog Here.

What Does Our MATCH Application Packages  Include?

Personal Statement Editing

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Interview Preparation

The best way to learn something is to do it. That’s why we divide our interview preparation sessions into two parts.
Mock Interview + Feedback

Residency Advising

We are able to provide you with the guidance you need at any step of your journey to make it to your final goal!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about residency interview preparation

How many interviews does the average residency applicant get? How many interviews do you need to match into residency?

Based on the 2023 NRMP data, the median number of interviews offered for matched US MD seniors was 16, matched DO seniors was 17, and other applicants (including IMGs) who matched were 7.

Source: NRMP

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Do residency programs rank everyone they interview?

Not necessarily. While many residency programs rank most of the applicants they interview, there’s no obligation to do so.

How long should your residency interview answer be?

Generally, between 1-2 minutes. It has to be long enough to provide a thorough answer but short enough to keep the interviewer engaged. However, there are exceptions to every rule. One thing that can help you determine whether to stop or keep going is to watch the interviewer’s cues and body language. If they appear engaged and interested, you’re likely on the right track. If they seem distracted or impatient, it might be a cue to wrap up your answer.

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What are the red flags for residency interviews?

1. Lack of Preparedness: Arriving late, not knowing specifics about the program, or appearing disorganized can immediately cast doubt on your seriousness and professionalism and exclude you from the rank list.

2. Negative Talk: Speaking poorly about previous institutions, mentors, or other applicants can reflect negatively on your professionalism and maturity.

3. Overemphasis on Finances or Lifestyle: While compensation and work-life balance are valid concerns, focusing too heavily on these aspects may make you seem less committed to the specialty or the art of medicine.

4. Non-verbal Cues: Poor eye contact, frequently checking one’s phone, or appearing disinterested can be major deterrents.

5. Lack of Questions: When given the chance to ask questions, having none can indicate a lack of genuine interest in the program.

6. Overconfidence or Arrogance: Confidence is good, but arrogance can be off-putting. The medical field requires teamwork, and humility is a cherished trait.

7. Avoiding Answering Questions Directly: Dodging questions or being overly vague can come off as evasive or dishonest.

8. Not Engaging with Current Residents: Most residency programs have a component where applicants interact with current residents. Disinterest or disengagement during these interactions can be noted.

9. Unprofessional behaviorTreating fellow applicants or coordinators poorly during an interview signals a lack of professionalism and teamwork and can exclude the applicant from the rank list.

For applicants, while these are red flags you should avoid, it’s also essential to observe the program for any warning signs, such as residents appearing overly fatigued, a lack of transparency about the program’s specifics, or sensing an unsupportive environment.

Remember, both sides are evaluating fit. The goal is to find a harmonious match that facilitates growth, learning, and the provision of excellent patient care.

Looking for a detailed ERAS Application Template with samples of various experiences?

What makes a good residency interview?

A good residency interview should leave both the program and the applicant with a clear understanding of each other, enabling both to make informed decisions about their fit and potential future together.

Is it OK to take notes during residency interviews?

While it’s acceptable to take notes during a residency interview, it’s essential to do so judiciously, ensuring it doesn’t hinder the quality of the interaction. Always prioritize active engagement and active listening during the interview process. It is better to take notes immediately after the interview rather than during the interview.

For more examples of answers to residency interview questions, get our Interview Preparation Sample Guide.

I hope this helps you master your residency interview! For those gearing up for their first interview, don’t miss our interview preparation packages! There are different tiers of interview preparation that include real-time mock interview and feedback about your performance! 100% satisfaction guaranteed! All by expert physician advisors! Learn more Here!

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Good Luck with your residency interview and don’t hesitate to reach out to us for any questions.

Malke Asaad, MD

Residency Interview Coaching for Match® 2024
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