this forum, we have had discussions about various aspects of
the residency interview process. But I suppose there's not a
single post where it has been outlined as to how to go ahead
with the interview process, how to prepare for it, FAQs and
certain do's and don'ts about the interviews. I'll be glad
if each and everyone could give their input.
discusses how to prepare for residency interviews and
provides helpful tips for interviewing. It will guide your
thinking as you attempt to put your best foot forward in
these all-important meetings. The single best piece of
advice is to be prepared. Read through this section, speak
to people who have been through the process, use a resource
book, and do your homework. Solid preparation will provide
you with added confidence, sharpen your focus, decrease
stress and allow you to relax a little bit.
Practice will make you calmer, more organized, and help you
sound better during the real thing - practice with friends,
classmates, etc. Carry copies of your CV, personal statement
and transcripts, your list of questions you wish to have
answered, and a note pad with you as you would for your
interview (use a nice leather portfolio). If possible, dress
as if it were a real interview (see suggestions below).
Make a list of your top strengths, goals, values,
accomplishments and abilities to use as a general reference
for all interview questions. This will provide your answers
for a majority of the questions you are asked.
TOP 5 PLAN - go into every interview with 5 key things you
want a program to know about you. What makes you a good
candidate? What makes you unique?
Create a checklist of things you want/need in a residency
Rank your needs/wants in order of importance to you.
Assign a score to each program immediately after your visits
for each of your wants/needs.
At the end, compare your scores, notes, and information from
the various programs.
Review your own medical school file before the interview.
Know the Program and Specialty
Know a great deal about the individual residency programs:
Review all the information they send you.
Visit the program's web site.
Ask for an interview schedule ahead of time if it was not
included (fax or e-mail).
Ask the program what to expect and what materials to bring
for the interview day.
Find out about the faculty, particularly any interviewers
(Medline search, web search).
Speak with any graduates in the program or others you might
Speak with residents on interview day for the real story.
Know a great deal about the specialty's culture:
What do practitioners in the field really do?
What types of procedures do they perform?
How are they perceived by other specialists?
Do they have opportunities for subspecialty training?
Specialty board exam requirements?
What do they value or view as important as a specialty?
Looking the Part
Dress should always be conservative, tasteful, neat—and
Have the appearance of a successful, mature physician, not a
MEN should wear a suit, not sport coat or khakis.
Navy or gray, solid or pinstripe.
White or pale-blue shirt.
Conservative tie: solid, stripes, or small pattern (red or
Keep jewelry to a minimum.
Short hair, preferably no goatees.
WOMEN should wear a suit - skirt or pants are acceptable.
Classic, solid colors: medium to dark gray, medium to dark
blue, or black.
Simple white or cream top.
Simple, comfortable shoes.
Keep jewelry to a minimum.
Make-up and perfume work best when they are not noticed.
Be prepared for bad weather - always have an umbrella and
overcoat with you.
Create a List of Questions You Want Answered
Based on the needs and wants you outlined for yourself
earlier, brainstorm a list of information you wish to find
out during your visit. Below is a list of possible
What is the success of graduates: board scores, help finding
What are the clinical, non-clinical, and administrative
responsibilities of the residents?
Are there research opportunities?
Status of the program and hospital: Have any house staff
left the program? Accreditation?
Quality of current residents? Have any left the program
How are residents evaluated? How often? By whom? How may
they give feedback?
Do you foresee any changes in the next three years?
What makes this program so unique?
Create a list you wish to specifically ask residents,
What contact will I have with clinical faculty?
How are the attendings to work with?
What is the average daily work load for interns? Is it
How much didactic time is there? Does it have priority?
What types of clinical experiences will I have?
What is the work schedule? Call schedule? Time off?
What is the patient population I will see?
Are you happy? Was this a good match for you?
Do the residents socialize as a group?
The Questions - What Interviewers May Ask
Make a list of potential questions you may be asked.
Practice your answers ahead of time. The following is a list
of potential questions that may aid you in your preparation.
How are you today? (there are NO innocent questions)
Do you have any questions? (yes...)
Tell me about yourself.
What are your strengths and weaknesses?
Why are you interested in this specialty? (#1 question
What other specialties did you consider?
Why are you interested in our program?
What are you looking for in a program? Where else have you
Why should we choose you? What can you contribute to our
How well do you feel you were trained to start as an intern?
Describe your learning style.
Tell me about... item(s) on your CV or transcript, past
experience, time off, etc.?
Can you tell me about this deficiency on your record? (do
not discuss if you are not asked)
What do you see yourself doing in five (ten) years?
What do you think about...the current and future state of
healthcare, this specialty, etc.?
What do you do in your spare time?
Present an interesting case that you had... as if you were
Tell me about a patient encounter that taught you something.
What would you do if you knew one of your more senior
residents was doing something wrong? (filling out H&P's
without doing the evaluations, tying someone's tubes without
consent...and other ethical questions.)
Which types of patients do you work with most effectively?
How do you make important decisions?
If you could no longer be a physician, what career would you
How do you normally handle conflict? Pressure?
What to do think about what is happening in...? (non-medical
current event questions)
Teach me something non-medical in five minutes.
Tell me a joke. (keep it simple and tasteful)
What if you do not match?
Can you think of anything else you would like to add?
"Illegal" questions might include:
What are your plans for a family? Are you married? Have
How old are you?
If we offered you a position today would you accept?
Make sure to:
Listen to the questions asked - make sure you understand
what is being asked.
Answer the question that was asked.
Not answer a question they did not ask or add too much
Be comfortable with pauses, silence - stay poised and
Sound fresh every time - be prepared to answer the same
question 20+ times throughout the entire interview process.
Smile! - highly underrated; often forgotten when nervous and
Consult someone from the specialty about common questions in
Always send a thank you letter after an interview.