10 Residency Interview Questions and Answers | BeMo Academic Consulting
Residency Interview Question: #2. Why should we choose you?
Similarly, the intent of this question — to find out what strengths you would bring to a program — shouldn’t be a surprise. I was, however, surprised at how bluntly it was asked. I felt like I was asked to lay my cards directly on the table. One good approach to these types of questions, whether they are asked as straightforward as this or not, is to structure your response in a way that demonstrates your strengths as a resident and as a colleague. Someone once told me that most programs are looking for teachable residents and residents that they want to have around for the duration of the program. You’ll be spending a lot of time, particularly in high-stress situations where you have to rely on each other, and it would be ideal to have those other people be individuals you like. This doesn’t mean that likability trumps talent. It means that you have to bring an aptitude and good attitude to the program and your response should emphasize your professional skills, suitability for the profession, and technical abilities equally with the qualities that make you a good collaborator and communicator.
Residency Interview Question: #3. Do you have any questions for me?
Again, this was not a question that surprised me. Many of my friends ahead of me in their training mentioned that I should prepare a few questions in advance based on what I wanted to know about the training and what was important to me in the program. I was, in fact, surprised by how many applicants told me they didn’t ask any questions. Asking your interviewer questions shows that you’re interested and invested in the program and is also an opportunity to demonstrate that you’ve taken the initiative to explore your options. Just as importantly, it’s an opportunity to find out information that helped my decision in ranking programs. I can honestly say that the responses I got to my questions impacted my rank order list in ways I did not expect. Keep in mind that most applicants ask one or two questions and not asking any could make you stand out for the wrong reasons.
Prepare a list in advance. Spend time researching the program. If the program does not have a great website, look up the demographics of the region or local events. I knew an applicant that wowed a program because she had done such in-depth research of the local population and asked questions specific to that area based on census results and demographics. Now you may not have to be that detailed for each interview, but it an example of asking a question that will display your interest. Failing to ask questions looks lazy and shows disinterest. Common questions you could ask are:
Residency Interview Question: #10. Please explain the following…
Not every candidate has something on their residency CV or application that warrants discussing or clarification during the interview. However, you would be surprised what programs are interested in seeking clarification when it comes to one’s application. Residency selection committees and program directors want to give you an opportunity to explain any discrepancies or red flags on your application. These things could be obvious, such as taking a year off, failure of an exam or the identification of lots of elective time spent in a different specialty. The less obvious questions can revolve around lots of research experience in a school that focuses more on clinical practice, or rural vs. urban experiences in schools which serve the opposite demographic. For questions related to academic performance or red flags, programs want to know a little bit more about the circumstances surrounding the event. Were you going through a rough time? If so, tell us about it and how you handled that time of your life? What did you learn from the experience and how are you a stronger candidate today? Residency training programs are tough, proving to result in ample demand on both your time and cognitive load. Programs want to ensure that candidates will be able to endure the academic rigors of their program.
With regard to the less-obvious questions stated above, ultimately, programs want to make sure that you are a good fit for the program and, generally, that’s where these questions stem from. For example, non-research-oriented programs want to make sure that research-oriented candidates understand that their program is mostly focused on clinical practice to avoid disappointment later down the line. The converse is true as well; research-heavy programs want to make sure that candidates understand research is a big part of the program they hope to join. Similarly, questions regarding rural vs. urban experiences center around expectations of the type of clinical practice and the opportunities which will be available to the resident. Remember, this is your opportunity to explain to the selection committee how you are a good candidate for their program. With that being said, this is a two-way street. If you find that a program is focused more on academic activities or experiences which don’t suit your goals of what type of clinician you want to be, then most likely, this training program is not for you.
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