SAMPLE RESIDENCY INTERVIEW QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

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SAMPLE RESIDENCY INTERVIEW
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

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SAMPLE RESIDENCY INTERVIEW QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

Embarking on your residency interviews can feel like stepping into uncharted territory. To help you prepare for your residency interview and navigate this crucial phase with confidence, we’ve crafted a comprehensive guide filled with sample answers to the most frequently asked residency interview questions.

Tailored with insights from our experienced professionals, this guide aims to provide you with the foundation to present your best self and leave a lasting impression. A few questions in this guide are accompanied by a variety of response scenarios, tailored to cater to the diverse backgrounds and experiences of applicants.

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Table of Contents:

1. Tell me about yourself

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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 third year there, I was certain that Internal Medicine was the path for me.

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 family medicine to internal medicine 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 for what the future holds!

Average US Graduate

Hi! Growing up, medicine was always a part of the dinner table conversation – both my parents are emergency room nurses. Often times our family catch-ups happened during the brief overlaps of my parents’ shifts, one clocking out from a night shift while the other geared up for the day ahead. They had this incredible tag team going to take care of me and my two brothers.

During my undergrad at Penn State, I dove deep into biology, but it was my volunteer work as an EMS on weekends that truly ignited my passion for emergency medicine. That adrenaline, that immediacy – I just knew I wanted to be an emergency room physician. After four years of hard work as a premed I was fortunate to be accepted into Penn State Medical School and my time there only further cemented my dreams of becoming an ED physician. I was able to complete several acting internships in our large level 1 trauma center and at our surrounding community EDs.

Now, here’s something you might find surprising: on weekends, I swap my stethoscope for turntables, spinning hip-hop and EDM tracks at local clubs in Hershey, PA. It’s my little escape! And when I’m not in the ER or behind the decks, you’ll probably find me on a hiking trail. One of my biggest dreams? To conquer Mount Kilimanjaro. Fingers crossed for that!

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Elite US Graduate

I hail from rural West Virginia, where my family has deep blue-collar roots in mining. My journey towards medicine began under unfortunate circumstances when, at the age of 7, my father sustained a spinal cord injury in a mining accident. The subsequent years spent in hospitals and rehab centers profoundly impacted me, especially when we lost him to complications later on. It was during these formative years that I felt a strong calling to become a healer.

My undergraduate years were spent at WVU, majoring in neuroscience. The pivotal moment came when I had the opportunity to work under Dr. Brad Smith, who was researching stem cell therapies for spinal cord injuries. This hands-on experience underlined the vital role of translational research for me.

My dedication to this field led me to the Medical Scientist Training Program at Washington University in St. Louis. It was there that I met and worked with Dr. Sandra Black, a distinguished neurosurgeon. Under her guidance, we explored the potential of gene editing in treating spinal cord injuries, a study that earned us a publication in Science.

As I move forward, my aim is to merge my roles as a neurosurgeon and scientist, hoping to bring solace to families and patients alike who’ve suffered like mine did. Outside of the professional realm, I cherish my moments back home, especially during the fall when I can root for the WVU Mountaineers!

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2. Why this specialty?

Internal Medicine

When I began my clinical rotations, I was exploring, trying to find that specialty that resonated with me. By the time I reached my third-year rotation in Internal Medicine, it was like a light bulb moment. The intellectual depth of the field immediately stood out. Diagnosing complex cases, piecing together clinical puzzles – that cerebral challenge was exactly what I was looking for.

But it wasn’t just the intellectual aspect. In Internal Medicine, the opportunity to foster long-term patient relationships was evident. I appreciated the central role an internist plays, collaborating with specialists, integrating their insights, and ensuring holistic patient care.

Also, the prospect of post-residency fellowships in Internal Medicine added another layer of appeal for me. The field’s adaptability, allowing for specialization based on evolving interests, seemed like a promising pathway for continuous growth.

General Surgery

When I think about my journey towards surgery, I trace it back to my second year of medical school. I had the privilege of being part of an early exposure elective, and I was assigned to shadow Dr. Lisa Gerlach on the acute care surgery service. One experience from that time is etched into my memory: I recall evaluating a patient in the emergency department who was in agonizing pain. Their discomfort was distinctly out of proportion to the physical exam, and we soon discovered it was mesenteric ischemia. The immediacy of the situation, the rapid decision to go to the OR, and the meticulous procedure of a small bowel resection was, to put it simply, captivating.

But it wasn’t just the procedure. It was the blend of in-depth anatomical knowledge and the technical skill required that truly drew me in. And then, seeing that very patient, stable and recovering in the ICU the next morning? The gratification was almost instantaneous.

For me, general surgery offers a unique blend of intellectual challenge, technical precision, and tangible results. It’s where I see my skills, passion, and drive converging.

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3. What are your strengths?

When someone asks me, “What’s one of your strengths?” my mind immediately jumps to multitasking. Now, I know we often hear about the debate on whether multitasking is actually productive or not, but I think this skill set will make me a strong emergency medicine resident.

During medical school, I found myself juggling not one, but two demanding research projects. One was focused on innovative cardiology treatments, and the other delved into the effects of certain drugs on the nervous system. Balancing both required a lot of dedication and, yes, multitasking. I had to coordinate with different teams, keep track of two distinct sets of data, and ensure everything stayed on schedule.

I was also elected as the class treasurer. That meant handling funds, coordinating events, and being an active member of the student council. As you can imagine, budgeting for a large group of med students isn’t a walk in the park!

I also took up a part-time gig as a spin instructor at our local gym. Those early morning and late evening classes not only kept me active but also became my escape from the rigorous demands of med school. And yes, creating those playlists took some time too!

I had my week planned down to the minute, always ensuring that I allotted specific chunks of time to each project and responsibility. I genuinely believe that this knack for multitasking will serve me well in my residency journey. Medicine, as we all know, is a field where things are constantly moving. Patients, procedures, research, paperwork – the list goes on. Being able to efficiently shift focus without dropping the ball? That’s going to be invaluable.

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4. Weaknesses

By nature, I’ve always been on the shyer side. In group discussions or meetings, I’d often find myself holding back, reluctant to voice my opinions or concerns. This fear of potential conflict or disagreement made me avoid situations where I’d have to be assertive. While it did save me from immediate confrontations, I realized over time that it also meant my thoughts and perspectives weren’t being heard. In the medical field, where collaboration and communication are essential, I knew this was a hurdle I had to overcome.

To address this head-on, I decided to step outside of my comfort zone and take on roles that required me to be more vocal and assertive. I volunteered for leadership positions, becoming the president of the Internal Medicine Interest Group at my school. This position meant I had to lead discussions, organize events, and address concerns from other members. It was challenging, yes, but it was also incredibly rewarding to see the difference I could make when I stepped up.

I also took on a role as the lead medical student at our local free clinic. This was another leap of faith, as it required me to coordinate with physicians, nurses, and other medical students, ensuring the clinic ran smoothly and our patients received the care they needed. Again, it pushed me to communicate openly and assertively.

Lastly, for a bit of fun and an unconventional approach, I enrolled in improv classes with a group of friends. Now, if you’ve never tried improv, it’s all about thinking on your feet, reacting spontaneously, and often, speaking without overthinking. It became a fun way to break out of my shell, and I found that the confidence I gained on stage began to spill over into my professional life.

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5. Tell me about a failure

One experience that immediately comes to mind was during my first year of medical school, specifically my anatomy course. I came into med school with a strong background in math and engineering. My approach to learning had always been about understanding overarching principles and then applying them. So, when I faced the large-volume content of anatomy, I genuinely thought I could handle it with my previous strategies.

However, reality hit hard when I found out that I had failed my first test. It was shocking and disheartening, especially given that I’d always been a strong student. I realized that the sheer volume of medical school material was entirely different from what I was used to. Before I thrived on understanding broad concepts, but anatomy required memorization and hours upon hours of study.

I decided to reevaluate and change my study techniques. I met with academic advisors, set up a rigorous study schedule, and started diversifying my study methods. By the time of the next exam, not only did I pass, but I also scored “honors”, lifting my overall grade to a “high pass.”

This experience taught me the importance of adaptability. While failing that first test was tough, it was crucial in shaping my approach to challenges and solidifying my commitment to medicine.

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

During my research year, I set up a collaboration with another lab to help us with histology and immunohistochemical staining for my project. As the research progressed, it became apparent that the work required from the collaborating lab was a bit more than initially anticipated, but we assumed this was a good thing as the project was turning out nicely. The graduate student I was working with from that lab put in a significant amount of time and effort and was my key point of contact.

Originally, we had an informal agreement that she’d 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.

At first, I was like, “Wait a minute, I’ve been leading this.” But we sat down, had a coffee, and really talked it through. She showed me all she’d done, and it hit me – she totally deserved that recognition.

So, we settled on both of us being co-first authors. It felt right, and it was a great lesson for me in valuing everyone’s input. We’re actually collaborating on more projects now, and I’m very glad we resolved this.

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7. What are your plans after residency?

Well, I’ve given this a lot of thought. Right off the bat, my immediate goal is to match into a solid internal medicine residency program. I’m particularly looking for a place that truly values resident education and has a genuine focus on wellness. It’s important for me to be in an environment where learning and well-being are at the forefront.

While I’m still navigating my specific path, I’m leaning towards cardiology or maybe Pulm/CCM for a fellowship. And if I’m looking a decade down the line? I picture myself in a busy academic teaching hospital. I’m passionate about both clinical work and research, so I see myself balancing dynamic clinical practice while also being actively involved in research projects.

On top of that, I’ve always been drawn to teaching and mentoring. I can definitely see myself in a role like a residency program director or maybe even an associate program director, where I can have a direct impact on guiding the next generation of doctors. That’s the dream for me.

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8. Tell me about a stressful situation you went through and how you overcame it

I can think of a moment in my first year of med school. I had been managing my Crohn’s disease pretty well for years, and then out of nowhere, right in the middle of my first year, I had a major flare-up. It was so bad that I ended up being hospitalized and had to undergo a partial colectomy. It really felt like the worst possible timing.

It meant missing two major blocks – genetics and biochemistry. And trust me, the thought of being so behind when we had just started medical school was overwhelming. I was grappling with the physical pain and the mental strain of falling behind.

But here’s where I learned the importance of a strong support system. My advisory deans, my instructors, they were all so understanding. They told me to focus on my health first and foremost and allowed me to make up for the missed coursework during the summer at my own pace. That experience really taught me that it’s okay to ask for help and lean on others when you need it. I also realized that, even in those moments when you feel utterly alone, there’s always someone willing to lend a hand or offer support.

9. Tell me about a time you had to deal with an angry patient

I remember one time when I was on the wards. We had this patient come in from the clinic, right? She had a surgical site infection and some cellulitis. From the moment she got to the floor, you could tell she was upset. She was quite vocal about her frustrations, getting a bit combative with the nursing staff, and even talked about wanting to leave because she felt she wasn’t getting the care she needed.

So, I rushed up there, wanting to understand and address her concerns. As soon as I entered her room, she started venting her frustrations, and even asked me to leave at one point. It was tough, but I kept my calm and managed to persuade her to stay for the night.

The next morning, I made sure to visit her first thing and dropped by a few more times during the day just to check-in. By the end of the day, her whole demeanor had changed. She thanked me for the frequent visits and shared how it made her feel like we genuinely cared about her well-being. It was a challenging situation, but it reinforced how important good communication can be in patient care.

10. Do you have any questions for me?

  • How do you incorporate feedback from residents into the curriculum or rotation structure?
  • What opportunities are there for elective rotations, and how flexible are they?
  • How does the program support presenting at conferences or publishing?
  • How does the program promote work-life balance for its residents?
  • Are there wellness initiatives or resources available to residents?
  • How is feedback given to residents, and how frequently?
  • Can you describe the mentorship system within the program?
  • What fellowships are most commonly pursued by residents after graduation?
  • How does the program support residents in their fellowship or job search?
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As you journey towards securing your ideal residency position, remember that preparation is your most valuable asset. We hope this guide illuminates the path ahead, providing you with clarity and confidence.

If you need help preparing for residency interviews, check out our residency interview preparation services HERE. Our Residency Interview Preparation Service is 100% satisfaction guaranteed.

Best of luck and may your passion and dedication shine through in every interview.

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Mock sessions and real-time feedback with our Expert Interviewers!
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Mock sessions and real-time feedback with our Expert Interviewers!
Practice interviewing with our experts who trained at top-notch residency programs! If you’re not satisfied, get your money back!
Unlimited access to your interview prep advisor and 4 hours of real-time interview preparation! All in one package!
Don’t let subpar interview performance prevent you from matching. Ace your residency interviews with our experts’ advice! Each session is half real-time mock interview and half as feedback.
Our Clients’ Success Speaks to Our Premium Service!
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Get FREE exclusive access to our Interview Prep Guide!
Practice interviewing with our experts who trained at top-notch residency programs! If you’re not satisfied, get your money back!
Unlimited access to your interview prep advisor and 4 hours of real-time interview preparation! All in one package!
Don’t let subpar interview performance prevent you from matching. Ace your residency interviews with our experts’ advice! Each session is half real-time mock interview and half as feedback.

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