RESIDENCY INTERVIEW PREPARATION
The free and excellent residency interview preparation tool is made for you to make it easy to prepare well to ace the residency interview.
At First, you will receive an Interview Invitation email anytime from September to January. Some programs do phone Interview before offering an actual in person interview. Give priority first to taking a decision on an interview date. Reply them thanking and choose an interview date out of the few dates that they give, as soon as possible. Do not delay as you may lose the opportunity. Sometimes they send out more invitations than they actually interview just so they can fill all the interview slots available.
Then read their website about their program, people, research, achievements including board pass rates, fellowships their residents got, etc. Google to find any experiences the previous years’ applicants posted online so that you can know first hand info on how things go during residency interview. Remember the peoples faces and names from the profiles given in the website mainly the medicine dept chairman, program director, associate program director, program coordinator, etc. If you wish them by their name when you see them first, you impressed them already. To do this I even printed out their pictures just so I can review them just before the interview.
See if you know any friends or family living near that area so you may stay with them when you visit the place. Also, see if you know any current resident in that program as they are the best sources of information to ace the interview and also they are the best people to endorse your application if possible.
Try to make travel and accommodation arrangements for the place where this program is. If you book flight tickets early, you may save money.
Make an excel sheet of interviews with columns including program name, Specialty (if you applied for more than one), Dinner night before the interview, Date of Interview, Thank you letter after the interview, Travel arrangements, Hotel Accommodation, etc.
Copies of your CV, Personal Statement, application [because you have to know each and every word you wrote in them as they can ask questions or explanations], board scores, transcript and an extra picture etc. 3. Note pad/portfolio. 4. a pen. 5. Money (parking, food, etc.). 7. Small snack (granola bar). 8. Lint brushes 8. Shoe polish 9. Belt 10. Interview Suit [Men, Women] 11. Personal items (whatever) 12. CONFIDENCE. 13. HONESTY. 14. Good Social Skills (say ‘hi, good morning’ to every one you meet) 15. Being Professional 16. A small umbrella depending on weather
Sleep well the night before the interview date. You may have dinner with residents, program director or some one from the program in some places the night before. Dress well, don’t go in casual clothes.
When you reach the program on your interview date, fresh up again and look at yourself in bathroom first before going to the department to show up. Switch off your cell phone at this point or keep in silent mode. Do not use during the entire course of the interview. As soon as you see, thank the program coordinator [Thanks Ms. Jones, for arranging my Interview]. Be ready to say hi to the people from medicine department (e.g. Hi Dr. Smith, Good morning). When you see the other applicants, introduce yourself to them and talk pleasantly. The program observes who has good social skills. You don’t have to disturb everybody but just talk to someone nicely.
Don’t expect them to choose you out of pity. Show your worth gently. Give a firm handshake (don’t be too hard) and smile. So, give them an impression that you are mature, reliable, independent, able to work with a team, honest, punctual, relaxed, confident, happy person, a good colleague etc. Do not think that you have great scores and you can be overconfident. Don’t be scared or show anxiety. Sit/stand erect and relaxed. Say ‘Hi’ to others who you come across. Answer to the point clearly. The whole point is to have a very pleasant conversation. Be humble even while telling your strengths.
Your actual interview time starts from the time you are in the vicinity of the hospital not after you show up in the department. I once saw program director near the elevator but did not know him as I was not interested in that program. Guess what, I was not selected in that program. Someone might be watching you from the time you come to parking lot/train station/bus stop or whatever mode of transport you choose. If you are caught in a wrong situation, your chances go down. This info is from a program director. You have to be nice to any person you come in contact with in the vicinity of the hospital. Give respect to everyone who you come in contact with as you never know who would influence your application.
If you ever faced a challenging time in the past, the interviewer will be looking for open and non-defensive explanation as to how you overcame the challenge and improved your skills, abilities, and knowledge as a result. If your answer is impressive, it is a great plus point overall. If by any chance, you don’t understand a particular question, please request them to repeat the question.
Don’t be in a rush to finish the interview hoping that the interviewer should ask less questions but still get impressed to rank you high. Think that I should have a good quality interview how ever long it takes.
BE AWARE OF EXAMPLES OF A POOR QUALITY APPLICANT: Don’t Be One
Late to interview without good reason ……..Limp handshake…..Bad attitude……Criticizing other programs, past-professors…….Unprepared for interview—didn’t read program website. …… ……Doesn’t seem to be a life-long or self-directed learner …….Too quiet or Too hyper……Lack of confidence—nervous, ill-at-ease, scared, looks anxious…. Lack of maturity ….inability to express self clearly—poor spoken English skills, grammar……Failure to look interviewer in the eye ……….. No apparent career goals. ……… Makes excuses for everything ……… …….Lack of knowledge about field ………Not well groomed ……. overconfident, know-it-all behavior…….Lack of interest and enthusiasm…….Intolerant—strong prejudices ……… Inability to take criticism ……Not answering to the point [Remember: Pleasant Conversation is the goal]
What made you to be interested in this program?
Why did you choose to train in internal medicine? Did you apply to other specialties?
What do you think sets this program apart from other programs that you have seen?
What disadvantages do you see in our program for your personal standpoint?
What do you think it takes for you to be successful in a program like ours?
Tell me what all you know about our program?
Tell me about yourself? Describe about yourself? Tell me one of your best quality?-Definitely, be ready with something non medical stuff about you that is interesting.
Tell me about a medical journal article you read recently?
Tell me about a person whom you met today at our hospital?
Teach me about something outside of medicine like Sports /hobbies?
How would a friend describe you?
How would your professor describe you?
Who has had the greatest personal influence on you and why?
What is your inspiration?
Who do you depend upon for moral support?
Why did you become a physician?
What do you want to do after finishing residency? – avoid saying hospitalist, some may not like it.
Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses? What are you doing to improve on your weaknesses?
Did you always do the very best work of which you are capable of?
What are your accomplishments? What is the proudest moment of your life?
What is your greatest motivation?
Do you think your scores are a good indicator of your real capabilities?
Can you explain your low scores?
What have you learned from participating in extra-curricular activities?
What have you learned from your mistakes?
What was your most difficult thing that you faced in medical school?
Did you experience a medical error or did you not agree with the medical decision-making of your senior resident or attending?
Tell us about a situation in which you overcame adversity?
Describe a patient case that interested/influenced you in medical school?
Does criticism upset you?
How did you hear about this program?
Where else have you applied/interviewed?
How do you like to learn?
How do you handle stress? How do you work under pressure?
Do you have leadership qualities?
Do you think you a team player?
How do you define success?
What things/qualities you will bring to the program?
How do u make important decisions?
What are your ultimate career goals?
How do you see yourself in the next 5 or 10 years?
Are you interested in research?
How would you redesign the health-care system?
Describe the relationship that should exist between an attending and a resident?
What will you do if you suspected a colleague’s performance being impaired by substance abuse?
What would you do next year if you did not obtain a residency position?
What do you see as the negative and positive features of this specialty?
If you are not a physician what else would you be?
How will you prepare yourself to be an intern from now on?
QUESTIONS TO ASK DURING INTERVIEWS
Do not ask any question that appears ‘silly’ to you. Do not ask ask about salary, benefits, vacation etc. Don’t ask questions the answers for which are easily available by looking at the program’s website.
As I am very interested in your program, what else can I do as an applicant?
What qualities are you looking for in your new residents?
What are the characteristics of successful residents in this program?
How is a resident evaluated? How often is feedback given to residents?
What kind of research opportunities do you offer?
Do residents have help in making manuscripts for poster competitions or research publications?
Do the residents get publications?
Do the residents have enough independence in managing the private patients?
How is the performance in the board exams for the outgoing residents? (Do not ask if you already know the performance is bad)
How do the residents perform in In-service examinations?
Where do most of the graduates go after finishing residency here?
How many of your residents get into fellowships of their choice? Do you help in their placement?
What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of this program?
As Program Director, what are your greatest sources of frustration and accomplishment in your position?
What are the major changes anticipated in this program?
What can I expect from you as a resident in your program?
Are you you anticipating any changes in the program’s curriculum?
What do you like about this institution?
Have any residents left the program prior to completing? Why did they leave?
Is there conference time? Is it protected time?
What types of non-clinical responsibilities are there? (Research, administrative etc)
What research projects are the faculty and residents currently working on? How is funding obtained? Who gets first authorship?
Is there time to do research?
Who does airway management and who does it in trauma? Does anesthesia come down?
How are procedures recorded and credentialed?
TO THE RESIDENTS
Do you have good ancillary staff? like IV Team. Who draws blood work? Is there a lot of scut work?
Would you choose the same program if you could do it all over again?
Do you have time to enjoy yourself outside of your job?
How receptive is faculty to your suggestions?
How is your clinic experience? To what extent are you able to fulfill your responsibilities there in addition to inpatient work-load?
What is your general opinion of the program?
What was it that sold you into this program? Where else did you look?
How are the conferences? Who attends?
What is the average number of patients for whom you are responsible?
What is the clinic schedule like—how is it run and supervised?
What is a typical day like? What are work hours like in general?
What is the call schedule like? How does it change from year to year? What is a typical on-call night as an intern?
What are the other residency programs in the hospital like and how are the residents to work with?
Is the program stable?
If you had to do it all over again, would you have done anything differently? Would you have come here?
What do you see as being the greatest strengths and weaknesses of this program?
How much input do the residents have with regard to the way the program is run?
Is the program a pyramid?
Overall, do the residents in this program work well together?
Do you feel you are evaluated fairly?
Overall, do you feel you are treated fairly and reasonably?
Are you happy here? If you have a spouse or partner, is s/he happy here?
What is the faculty per hour per patient ratio?
How often do you want faculty input but find it’s unavailable?
How is the teaching? Are Morning reports, Noon lectures and grand rounds conducted well?
How much didactic time is there? How much time is spent in lectures, seminars, journal clubs?
Is there a good specialist support from GI, Cardiology, neurosurgery etc?
Do the patients stay in ER for a long time after getting admitted to go upstairs?
Have graduates felt comfortable performing all basic procedures by the time they graduate?
What type of ultrasound and hyperbaric experience is there?
Will I have time to read?
What is the call schedule? Do the residents take call from home?
What kind of patient population do you see usually? Nursing Home, rehab, community, etc.
What kind of social events occur for residents? Any activities of special interest to residents?
Where do most residents live? Cost of living ? Is the area nearby the hospital safe to live?
Is parking a problem? Do we pay for parking or is it free?
What if there is a problem, will the program stand up for the resident?
How are shifts done? Their length? Advance from days to evenings to nights? Time off?
How does your spouse feel living in this area? Does she/he like it?
Are there any away electives? Where?
Do the residents do any research?
What is the one thing you would improve in this program if you could?
Do you have any question for me?– Invariably, everyone will end the interview with this question. -YOU BETTER HAVE AT LEAST ONE QUESTION FOR EACH INTERVIEWERS !! They like in-depth questions like ‘You asking financial health of the institution’. Don’t ask questions that are easily answered by looking at the program’s website.
Some ask you to tell them a good joke. Do not copy from somewhere as they heard all these before. Try to recollect something that happened in your life and tell that one.
If you have managed an office, store, lab or any thing as a leader or supervisor or manager, be ready to explain nicely. Your transferable skills will come in hand to help you here.
Ask for the business card of your interviewer at the end of the interview.
Some of the programs also may ask medical questions. So, be prepared to answer questions like “Diagnosis and Management of a patient with unconsciousness, shortness of breath, rapid heart beat, chest pain, abdominal pain, fever, syncope, etc. Also, since HCAHPS scores are so much important these days, try to learn about that concept too. Some programs conduct a small exam. The place where I did my residency actually conducted an exam of 50 questions which I did well and got prematch.
If you are being interviewed by more than one person at the same time, which is not very common, you should acknowledge all of them. Look into the eyes of one for a few seconds and then change to the next. Don’t be anxious. You should feel inside your mind that ‘all are like me, they are my future friends’.
There are a lot of books that are available for preparing for residency interview. In my view, most of the books provide what you need to know. Read one book if you have time or else search online and gather information.
Asking about whether you have plans to have a baby during residency is illegal but say NO if prompted. Do not try to take off from the interview early. No program likes it. Schedule your travelling appropriately so you don’t have to rush.
Some people say that you can write a handwritten ‘Thank You’ letter to the program director after the interview if you are really really interested in a specific program. Handwriting and grammar should be really good if you do that.
Make sure you discuss and explain RED FLAGS in your application in an excellent way even though the interviewer does not bring it up because they may be discussed again after the interview among the selection committee members prior to submitting their rank order list.
Try to STAND OUT in the crowd by making a list of things that you possess that no others or very few others probably have-like International Health Care experience, cutting edge research, unique talent, teaching experience, patient education, leadership experience, and also by asking insightful questions.
Having a ‘Second Look’ at the program is not going to change your possibility of getting matched from program perspective but you may go for it if you need to know more about the program.
Always, talk ‘specifics’ about any program you interview at. Not just generic answers. Whether it is during or after interview, give specific examples of what or whom you liked in a particular program. You can say I am interested in Geriatrics/GI/Cardiology fellowship if they offer after residency. You could talk about their hospital location, clinics, research, or famous persons etc.
You can try to contact the program for Interview if you think it is appropriate, but use judgement.
A good application gets you an interview. But, only a great interview gets you a residency spot. A good preparation will improve your chances of getting selected.
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