Interview Tips for Physicians in Training

Are you a medical student who is a few years away from interviewing for a residency program? Or maybe you’re a senior who is scheduled for an interview tomorrow morning. Either way, you will need to be equipped with the proper tools to ace even the most difficult questions. In preparation, here are some tips to help you bring your A game and land a spot at the residency of your dreams.

Now that you’ve been invited to come in for an interview, you will need to make sure the training programs you applied to align with your career goals. An excellent way to determine if a particular program meets your needs is to research it thoroughly. Don’t just browse their website. Dig deep and find out what others think about the program. What are people saying on their social media sites? Has the program been rated high among residents and staff? Are there news articles that feature your program of choice?  Knowing these answers will help you determine if you and the residency program will make a perfect match. It will also show your prospective employer that you’ve done your homework.

In addition to researching the program, it’s important to do a little self-reflection. What unique qualifications do you possess? What will make you stand out from the other students applying for the same residency?  You’re going to need more than high test scores if you want to impress the interviewers. Those who have the final say of whether you make the cut will want to know:

  • Will your strengths help our program achieve its goals?
  • Are your qualities the type necessary to achieve success as a resident in our program?

To succeed in this portion of the interview, you will need to know how to convey this knowledge in the interview. Consider rereading your personal statement before the interview to keep your responses top of mind. You may also want to check out the bios of staff members and faculty who could potentially be conducting your interview. This will give you a better understanding of who you will be working under and if you share any interests or values that you can mention.

Now that you’ve carefully researched the program and figured out what makes you the perfect candidate, prepare yourself for a gauntlet of difficult questions that can render the most articulate applicant speechless:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • Why are you applying to our program?
  • What made you choose family medicine?
  • What is your greatest strength/weakness?
  • What are some challenges you expect to face in the field of family medicine?

To prevent you from rambling or drawing a blank, review some ways to answer these questions. You could also ask a friend or family member to conduct a mock interview to help get rid of pre-interview butterflies.

In addition, you should come prepared to ask the program director, faculty, and current residents questions such as:

  • What is the residency culture like?
  • What are you looking for in an ideal resident?
  • What are the most important values of the program?
  • What do you think are the program’s strengths/weaknesses?
  • Why did you decide to work here?
  • Does the program offer volunteer opportunities?
  • What does a typical week look like?

With the tables turned on this portion of the interview, you can gauge reactions of staff and examine how well (or not so well) they answer your questions.

The residency program interview is perhaps the most nerve wracking part of a future doctor’s career. With these tips, in addition to getting a good night’s sleep, you will be well prepared for any challenging question that is thrown at you.

For additional resources on how to prepare for your residency interview, check out:


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