How International Medical Graduates impress Program Directors During Residency Interview

Here are some ways how foreign Medical Graduates can give good impression during residency interviews.


There are so many things that play a role in giving a good impression to the program directors during interviews. When you are called for interviews, you have a fair chance of being selected for residency. The interview is what makes the final decision. Here are somethings that I would like every one who is preparing for USMLE steps need to know right away so that you can work on it from now onwards.

Get good scores: Every one will be impressed with the best scores if you have. I always feel that every one should first finish USMLE steps 1 and 2 with very good scores, before doing anything else like observerships, research, etc.

Speak good English: Lot of people have thick accent. Try to simulate American English. Practice during step 2 CS. Good English does not mean stylish way of speaking. Speak at normal speed but clearly. Fill the ERAS application without spelling, syntax and grammar mistakes.

Be pleasant and friendly: In your home countries, you might have had fear of your professors. Here, you need to smile and be friendly. Relax your body and mind while talking to them during interviews.

Prepare for interview well. Be ready to tell good and bad things about you, what value you will bring to the program etc. There are so many online questions you can get by googling. Try to prepare answers mentally for them. You never know what questions they ask, so go with open mind.

Read about the program and about its important members who could interview you: Go online and read up on medicine department and what their accomplishments as a program and as individuals in the program are. Know about chief medical residents in the program as they will take you around the hospital for a tour. Read also about program director, associate program director, and their research interests, accomplishments etc. When you talk about these during interview, they will be very impressed.

Mention fellowship as your future goal. Don’t say hospitalist as your future goal. The programs want to boast that their residents are going for fellowships and not hospitalist jobs.

Dress well for interview. Buy a real good suit. Look handsome/beautiful, confident and comfortable. Be professional. Be calm and stand tall and relaxed.

Listen to what they have to say. Don’t be in a hurry to show your talent. Just answer to the questions they ask. Don’t keep talking. Answer to the point.

Don’t become emotional. Don’t cry out of emotion if they offer prematch or if they say that you are a good fit for their program. A nice smile looks good on anyone’s face.

Never go late for interview. Going early is always the best thing to do.

Know what an intern needs to do after starting residency. Read about some common cases and their management. I was asked how to manage a case of unconscious patient as it is very common case in floors. You may want to prepare for syncope, hypotension, shortness of breath, DKA etc. If you do observership with a hospitalist, you will do this part well. You don’t have to show that you have a lot of theoretical medical knowledge. They want practical knowledge. They should get a feeling that you know a lot of what an intern does and so they feel comfortable to take you. But answer to the point for the question they ask you.

Have a good LOR from an American medical doctor or a researcher. Foreign letters from your home countries are not very impressive for them.

Some people like it if you have MBA or MPH. If you have them, they will ask how it is useful during residency.

If you have a green card, you will be a favorite candidate than those without. But, don’t worry if don’t have one. Many match on visa also.

Hide tattoos, if you have them. No long nails either. Dress up like a doctor not like a student.

Give a firm handshake. The firmer the handshake is the better the other person feels. Don’t squeeze their hand to give pain though.

Don’t show your fears even though you are anxious about what will happen during the interview. The more relaxed you are, the better the result will be.

Try to network with people from your intended specialty. Do research or volunteer work in the specialty of your interest if possible. I know these are not easy but they will impress the program directors.

Sometimes, advanced certifications like BLS/ACLS can help as they show how interested you are in this field. You can only do these after you have finished all the other required things.

Research in the same field can also impress them. Research isn’t all about peer reviewed journal publications, it can include abstracts, poster presentations, etc. If you did research in a different field, focus on telling them about the bio-statistics skills, epidemiological skills and writing skills ( if you published ) that you acquired during that project.

If a lot of family members are doctors, that may be a nice point for some directors as that tells how much you are influenced and how much guidance you might have had. You may be a good candidate for them.

Last but not the least, write an excellent Personal Statement. You should write in such a way that the Program Director should want to meet you in person. This is one piece of work, which requires lot of thinking abilities on your side. Do not copy from others as that won’t impress them as they know all those points before. Write about your specific interest in the specialty giving examples about why you are the best candidate and express your likeable personality. Your ERAS application description and Personal statement style should match to show them that you yourself wrote the personal statement. So, gather your specific qualities, skills and accomplishments  that you bring to the specialty and program. Promote your candidacy in a modest way.

I hope these points help you.