How to Ace Your Medical Residency Interview

Four Methods:Research The Residency ProgramPrepare Answers to Important QuestionsDuring the interviewHave a Flexible Schedule

For some, the residency interview is the most frightening part of the application. However, interviews are not designed to be scary, especially not if you've prepared thoroughly.

Method 1
Research The Residency Program

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    Learn about your possible interviewer. Though you probably won't know who's going to interview you, log in your program's website for clues before the interview. Find out who the program director is, who the major faculty involved in the program are, and who the current residents are. Chances are, those are the faces you'll see.
    • Be sure to note what their research interests are. What's their take on their specialty? What have they accomplished? All of this information is fodder for your upcoming interviews. You can talk about that cardiac or heath care policy research paper that they wrote. Even just 10 minutes of background research goes a long way in forming a vague idea about who's in the program and what it's all about.
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    Make a list of question to ask. Remember that this is a big decision, so you should have questions. Avoid questions that could be easily found on the program's home page. Instead, use this opportunity to ask about the inner workings of the system. How many months in the ICU? When is the in-service exam? How important are the in-service scores? How are residents evaluated? Use this opportunity to find out if the program is a good fit for you. This is also the time to ask about logistics like parking, ARMs, where you'd eat, where you'd sleep, what are the support services and so on.

Method 2
Prepare Answers to Important Questions

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    Know why you're there. It's highly likely that you'll receive a question along the lines of "Why do you want to be a doctor?" Be sure you have a concrete answer that you can deliver with confidence and clarity. This is also applicable to your specialty—why did you choose this field over a different one?
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    Be ready to answer a general question on health care reform. You'll probably be asked a question along the lines of "What do you think will happen in the medical field in the next 10-20 years? How will it affect how you practice medicine?" Have an apolitical, well-informed response prepared.
    • Be sure you are knowledgeable about the PPACA passed under the Obama administration. This is a big topic in medicine today, and being unaware of it will definitely hurt your interview.
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    Write down important experiences. Take some time to think about the most important medical experiences you've had. Talk about the time you spent shadowing, your mentor and other people that influenced you, and the interesting cases that you were involved in. Writing these down will help you organize them in your mind so that they are easily accessible come interview day.

Method 3
During the interview

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    Stay relaxed. Don't fear your interviewers—they're probably just as nervous to give the interview as you are to be interviewed.
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    Be friendly. Maintain eye contact and don't forget to smile. Interviews are often designed so that the interviewers could see themselves working with you. Showing that you are friendly will help them see that you'll be a good face to have around everyday.
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    Be engaged and open. Show your enthusiasm and interest by staying engaged throughout the interview. Be open to answering any questions thrown your way, and don't be afraid to ask your own questions!
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    Avoid being awkward. In general, don't fidget, chew gum, or pick at your shirt. Don't crack inappropriate jokes or check your watch constantly.

Method 4
Have a Flexible Schedule

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    Keep your schedule free. Avoid making big plans during interview season so you can be sure that there won't be any conflicts.
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    Don't reschedule. Unless you're extremely ill, avoid rescheduling your interview. You want to do everything you can to convey to the interviewers that they're your first priority.


  • Budget. Traveling from interview to interview gets expensive—plan ahead so that you don't get stuck without the means to make it to an interview. Check if the program offers residents you can stay with or discounts for a hotel room. If not, see if you can crash with a friend in the city you're visiting instead of paying for a hotel room.

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Categories: Interview Skills