As a medical student, your next step after school is residency. Unfortunately, you do not just get to join any residency program you choose, but instead you need to interview and match to the residency program you want to join. Residency program interviews differ from medical school interviews because they are more like a job interview. In a job interview you are not only trying to determine if this is the organization you want to join, but also that you are the right fit for the position.
So, what should you expect from a residency interview?
Your residency interview will consist of interviewing and meeting with members of the program including residents in the program, program director, program faculty, and other members of the department that you would regularly interact with in training. Even though it may seem overwhelming to meet with an array of people during your interview, this is very common in job interviews as well.
Prior to your interview date, you will most likely receive an itinerary from the program detailing which individual(s) you will meet with at what time and where. As you meet with the residents, program director, and faculty make sure that you are treating each person as a decision-maker. You should always be in interview mode and make sure that you are speaking positively about yourself and the program to all that you meet with. Do not assume that if you are meeting with the residents that they will be more laid back and not care about what you are saying.
How do you prepare for the interview?
Interviews always consist of some questioning, whether it is discussion based or just a list of questions. Make sure that you are prepared for some common questions like:
- Why do you want to join our program?
- Why did you choose this specialty?
- Can you tell me a little about yourself?
- What do you plan to do with medicine?
- Why did you choose to become a physician?
- What traits/qualities do you possess that will make you a good physician?
It is important to think about these questions and how you will answer them because you do not want to be fumbling over answering questions during the interview. You should not over rehearse these answers but have a general idea of how you will answer. You should also practice answering these questions with a friend, family member, in front of a mirror, or camera. This will allow you to watch your body language as you answer questions. Why do this? Many interviewees have no idea how they look when talking to others. You may feel like you are being peppy and happy throughout the interview, but your face and body language can say something else. Make any necessary adjustments while preparing instead of learning what you did after the interview.
What else should you be doing?
Asking your questions! Not only are you trying to convince the program that you are the right medical student to join their program, but they are trying to convince you that this is the right program for you. As you are going through the interview, make sure to ask questions that are important to you and your residency experience. Ask what a typical day is like in the program, how faculty communicates, and even ask the residents what they think of the program and why they chose this program over others they applied to. You want to make sure that you are not joining a program that you are going to be miserable at. If you have free time in your itinerary, try to find out what residents do outside of rotations. Ask the residents themselves or do some research yourself.
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