When you get a residency interview
call, you should plan to schedule your interview
so that you can complete all residency interviews
in a specific geographic area within a 5 to
10 day period. This saves you time, energy
and money. However, if you are looking at
a specific residency program, visit it ASAP.
You should plan to attend your medical residency
interviews during the months of November and
December. If a particular residency program
interests you, schedule a second visit for
a closer look.
Research about the residency program you
are going to. Visit the residency program’s
website, read their brochure and take down
notes for reference later. This helps you
prepare to ask appropriate and intelligent
questions at the medical residency interview.
We recommend dressing professionally and
conservatively. You should wear clothes that
fit you well and make you feel comfortable.
This will help you endure the long day and
project an image of confidence.
Once you receive the schedule for your medical
interview day, read about the areas of interest
of each residency interviewer and look up
some medical research papers published by
them. This will impress them and keep an intelligent
Practice pronunciation of difficult names
of interviewers, so that you can get it right
at the residency interview.
If you have any unexplained gaps in your
work experience or it has been a few years
since you finished your medical school, be
prepared to give an explanation.
If you had to take any qualifying USMLE
exam more than once or if your USMLE scores
are low, be prepared to explain.
Most residency programs invite candidates
to dinner, the day before the residency interview.
Even though it is optional, it is in your
interest to attend this social event with
your spouse. This is the time for you to show
your social skills and score points with the
residents, fellows and other candidates.
Make a list of interview questions to ask
and carry a folder to give yourself the professional
Network with your friends and other residency
applicants to find out details about specific
medical residency programs, their interview
questions, patterns, and their impressions.
Even though asking medical questions at
residency interviews has fallen out of vogue,
you should nevertheless, be prepared for it.
Expect to be asked in detail about your
medical research project.
Plan to arrive early at the
medical residency interview center. Greet
and introduce yourself to the residency program’s
secretary and make some polite conversation.
Introduce yourself and chat with other residency
applicants. This will help you relax and make
you look like a team player.
Use mouth fresheners after coffee and lunch
to clear bad odor.
During the residency interview, the residency
program directors are assessing you on three
main areas. Personality, communication skills
and if you will fit in the residency program
and be a good team player.
Your personality is given away
by your body language and actions. During
the residency interview, sit with your back
straight. Avoid slouching. Maintain eye contact.
Do not cross your arms or legs. Do not play
with your tie or twiddle your fingers. Present
a confident image. Remind yourself that this
residency interview is to hire physicians,
not medical students. So act professionally
and show maturity. During the course of the
day, your demeanor, and facial expressions
will influence their perception of your personality.
Keep smiling and crack a couple of jokes if
Your communication skills are assessed by
the way you answer the residency interview
questions. Be precise in what you are trying
to convey. Talk slowly and clearly, especially
if you are an International medical graduate
(IMG) or have an accent. A common mistake
is speaking softly. While it is polite to
do so in several foreign countries, it may
project an image of lack of self-confidence
and timidity, besides requiring the use of
hearing aids by the residency program’s interviewer.
Being a good team player requires flexibility,
camaraderie, and the ability to be a part
of the “chain of command”. Your ability to
socialize and fit into the medical residency
program is assessed here.
Sell yourself. Find ways of
conveying your good qualities and skills to
the residency program’s interviewer. Answer
questions in short sentences and to the point.
You can lead the medical interview into a
specific direction if that is to your advantage.
Say positive things about their residency
program. All residency program directors like
to hear good things about themselves. However,
keep it sincere. Safe areas to comment include…
The residency program’s website
and how informative it was
Electives, conferences and teaching
Ongoing medical research
How happy the residents and fellows looked
This specific residency or fellowship program
was recommended by your friend
Show interest in their residency
program by asking questions. If you don’t,
they may think that you are not interested.
Don’t ask questions about information already
on the residency program’s website. Instead
start by talking about the website and ask
a related question. This will impress the
residency program director and show him that
you have done your homework.
During the residency interview process,
indicate your interest by letting them know
that you would be very happy to join their
Lunch is your opportunity to ask and get
all the nitty gritty details from the residents
and fellows. However, remember that whatever
you say may be conveyed to the residency program
Most residency programs get input from residents
and fellows when deciding on the candidates.
So be friendly to the house staff and play
When you are done with your
residency interview, meet the residency program’s
secretary and express your appreciation for
her help in arranging the interview day and
Once you get home, write down all the positive
and negative points about the residency program.
Put down your personal thoughts about the
residency program and community. Give each
residency program a score, based on your personal
criteria. This will refresh your memory at
the time of preparing your rank order list
for the ERAS / NRMP match.
Don’t forget to write individual “thank
you letters” to all interviewers and the residency
program’s secretary. Letters to the residents
/ fellows is optional.
If you were impressed with the residency
program and are giving it serious consideration,
we would recommend that you visit the residency
program again for a second look. Plan to spend
a full day following the residents, as they
go about, doing their daily hospital routine.
This helps you decide about ranking the residency
program, besides improving your chances of
getting a position there.