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Best resources for residency interviews?

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Best resources for residency interviews?

Postby artard » Wed Nov 15, 2006 12:43 am

What are the best resources for preparing yourself for residency interviews? Books, websites, any suggestions are welcome. Are there specialty-specific resources out there - because if there are, I'm surgery.

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Joined: Tue Nov 14, 2006 5:15 pm

Postby mma » Wed Nov 15, 2006 9:55 am

I am going to Kaplan mock interviews tomorrow. I think this is a good resource. Check their website for free events.
Posts: 35
Joined: Wed Nov 01, 2006 12:02 pm

Postby anatolyk » Wed Nov 15, 2006 11:04 pm

The interview process is usually handled in a form of a relaxed conversation. It is very uncommon to discuss patient cases or specific medical topics during the interview.

Before the interview
Get to know yourself
Make a list of your strengths, accomplishments, and abilities. Use this list as a baseline for all the interview questions. This will help you to present yourself in a consistent way.
Review your Personal Statement, C.V., and Medical School transcript
Review your research projects and publications
Review your training and career goals
Are you going to be looking for a fellowship?
How much are you interested in research?
Do you like teaching?
Do you want to work for somebody or are you going to start your own practice?
Where do you see yourself in 3, 5,10 years?
Get to know the program
Review the information that program sent you
Look up the program at
Web search using Google or your favorite search engine
Visit program web site
Try to identify residents/interns/faculty from your country. Most likely you will get to talk to them
Review your interview schedule and find out the right spelling of all the names
Find as much information as you can about areas of interest of each interviewer from:
Program web site
MedLine search:
Research papers published
General web search
Get to know the specialty
What do practitioners in the field really do and what types of procedures do they perform?
How are they perceived by other specialists?
Are there any opportunities for subspecialty training (fellowships)?
What are board exam requirements?

Dress Code
Conservative, tasteful, and comfortable
Minimal or no perfume/aftershave
Men should wear a suit navy or gray, solid or pinstripe
White or blue shirt
Conservative tie
Neat hair
Women should wear a suit, skirt or pants blue, black or gray
White or muted colors top
Conservative shoes on low heels or flats with flash-colored hose
Minimum jewelry
Simple make-up
Short and clean nails

A list of questions you may want to ask
Tailor your list to the program you are going to have an interview with. Different specialties and different programs have different priorities: community involvement, research, clinical abilities, leadership. The more you know about the program, the better off you are.

Direct each question to appropriate person. Consider which questions are appropriate for the interview and which are for lunch with residents.

Whatis the philosophy of the program?
Who are the faculty?
Are there research opportunities?
How are residents evaluated?
What do you look for in a candidate?
What is the ownership of the hospital?
Are there any formal requirements for passing the in-training exam?
Are there medical students doing clerkships that I may have to manage?
Where do your residents come from and where do they go after graduation?
Do graduates have problems finding jobs?
What fellowships do you residents get into?
Where do the program graduates practice after completing their training?
To how many and what types of hospitals will I rotate?
Do you require Step 3 before starting the residency, or during what year of training?
What part is elective?
What is an average number of patients I will carry?
Do house officers think this is too many or too few?
Do you have regular medical conferences?
Do you offer pre-match?
Do you expect any changes in the coming years?
Ability to follow the same patient through the course of residency?
How good is the record keeping system?
What are the strengths of the program?
How is the traffic around the hospital?
Do attendings actually make rounds and attend conferences, how are they to work with?
What is an average work-load for interns?
Are there any CME/Educational reimbursement plans?
What is the work/call/off schedule?
What is the patient population (socioeconomic, racial, sexual distribution)?
What is a typical service team for each service (how many attendings/interns/residents)?
Is there a senior on call the same day as junior?
How good is the nursing staff to work with?
Are conferences directed towards typical cases or more as academic sessions?
How difficult is the Electronic Medical Records system to work with?
What software/computer equipment is available for residents (UpToDate, InfoRetriever, Pocket Pharmacology, etc.)?
Was it a good match for you?
What happens if a resident gets sick?
Do the residents socialize outside the program?
Do you offer pre-match?
Do you have any IMGs?
How good is security around the hospital, parking area and call room?
What is the pass percentage of your graduates the board exams?
Have any residents left the program?
How good are the school/daycare programs around?
Do you like the geographic area?
What employment opportunities arte available for the spouse?

Questions not to ask
Anything that you can find in program brochure and/or web site. You can compliment on the information found there and ask more detailed questions.
Salary, Benefits, Vacation, Competition, Maternity leave (you can find the answers elsewhere, like Program Web site, FREIDA, Hospital Graduate Medical Education office)
You cannot ask about prematch, this is against NRMP rules

Questions you will be asked
How are you (pay attention to this one)?
Why are you interested in this specialty?
What do you see as the negative and positive features of this specialty?
What problems do you think the specialty faces?
Tell me about yourself
What are your goals?
Are you interested in academic or in clinical medicine?
Do you plan to do a fellowship?
What if you don't match?
What are your strengths/weaknesses?
What other specialties did you consider?
Why are you interested in our program?
What are you looking for in a program?
Where else have you interviewed?
Why should we choose you?
Tell me about this item on your C.V
Why did you leave your country?
You were practicing OBGYN/ENT, etc. in your home country, why did you choose IM/FM/PSY? Will you be happy with your choice?
Your last position in your home country was so-and-so. Would you be comfortable in a role of an intern?
What do you think about managed care and role of insurance companies in the healthcare delivery?
Do you have any research experience?
Do you want to do research?
Where do you see yourself in 5/10 years?
What do you think about the current and future state of health care/specialty/type of treatment, etc.?
What differences do you see between the health care system in US and your country?
Present an interesting case that you had
How do you make important decisions?
Are you prepared for the difficulties of residency?
Is your husband/wife/children willing to relocate with you?
How do you handle stress?
How do you handle conflicts?
What do you do at your spare time?
Teach me something non-medical in 5 minutes
What do you think about (any non-medical topic, current event, etc.)?
Tell me a joke
Can you explain what have you been doing since 2XXX to 2XXX (based on your C.V.)
Do you have any explanations why did you have to take USMLE Step 1,2 more than once?
Why are your scores are a bit below average?
What questions do you have?

What should you bring to the interview:
Copies of your CV or CAF
Personal Statement
List of questions you may want to ask
Materials from the program
A notepad and a pen in a nice portfolio
Money to pay for parking and may be lunch

Right before the interview
Remember, the program you are interviewing with liked what they had seen in your application. Otherwise you wouldn't be there. Now it is time to prove that you are who they have seen in your Personal Statement and CV. Your scores do not matter anymore. Now it is only about yourself: Your personality, Communication skills, and how good of a team player you make. You cannot guess what exactly the program is looking for. Your best bet is to be YOURSELF!

During the interview
Some programs offer housing at a place of one of the current residents. Please pursue this only if you are comfortable with that.
Most programs invite candidates to dinner the day before the interview. This is a perfect chance to show your social skills and score some points. Don't eat garlic, onions or anything else that will stink the next day.
In case if you get picked up from a hotel by one of the current residents, make sure you understand where should you be waiting and be on time
Be 15-20 minutes earlier than scheduled time and report to the program coordinator
Introduce yourself to other applicants
Start with a firm handshake
Look your interviewer in the eye and greet him/her by name
Introduce yourself in a confident and clear tone of voice
Let everyone else sit down first
Speak clearly and do not rush, especially if you have an accent. Speaking slowly helps others to adjust
If your hands are shaky and you are offered coffee or tea, refuse it
Maintain a good eye contact
Take a deep breath before you answer. This will send oxygen to your brain and give you a second to think of your answer.
Be prepared to answer the same questions 5 and more times. DO it as if you are answering it for the first time.
Don't talk just to fill empty space. Be comfortable with pauses
Listen to the question asked. Make sure you understand what is being asked.
Do not answer a question they did not ask or add too much non-related information
Watch out your body language. Try not to cross your arms and legs.
Good sense of humor is always a great help
Say only positive things about your past experience
Show real interest

Program Evaluation
Rate the following items during or right after your interview. This will help you a lot when making decision on your rank order

Area surrounding hospital: safe, well lit, parking close
Diverse socio-economic patient population
Residents are happy
Location acceptable
Cost of living managable
Accreditation of program unquestionable
Number of hospitals in rotation
How far away are rotations
Job opportunities upon completion
Acceptable salary
Vacation benefits
Insurance coverage
Impression of faculty
Impression of residents
Overall program rating
Follow Up
You may wish to thank the program coordinator before you leave for the well organized trip

It is a very good idea to remind about yourself with a thank you letter sent to everyone you interviewed with. It is going to be much easier if you write your thank you letter right after the interview while everything is fresh. Touch the subjects you talked about, that will make it more personal and your interest more genuine.

It is also a good idea to ask about a possibility of a "second look" interview.


A sample Thank You Letter

Dear Dr. XYZ:

Thank you for the courtesies extended to me during my interview yesterday. Your program's atmosphere was inviting and warm, despite of unusually cold weather. I appreciate the way you made me feel at ease with informal conversation about the program as well as lifestyle in ZZZZZ. A site of the state capitol has impressed me.

I especially enjoyed learning about research opportunities at the program.

I liked a lot rounds with ward team directed by Dr. YYYYY. Her non-pressing style lets residents think and express their thoughts freely.

I was particularly impressed by the satisfaction of the current residents with the program. I feel like I definitely can fit into the team.

I strongly believe that I would be an excellent trainee. I really think that the program may benefit from my experience. Even though I had an interruption in practicing medicine, my current position helped to bring my skills up to speed. Whatever I could have missed prior to that, I will catch up by hard work.

I hope to successfully match with your program. Since it was my first interview I can definitely say that I rank your program as number one. But seriously, I will give you an update on my ranking in January. I am sure that the program will be at the top of my list.


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Postby artard » Sat Nov 18, 2006 10:38 am

Thanks, anatolyk! This is fantastic!
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Joined: Tue Nov 14, 2006 5:15 pm

Re: Best resources for residency interviews?

Postby mismary207 » Thu Oct 20, 2011 9:15 pm


This topic help me a lot in developing my project. I will contribute more when I finished it.
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Joined: Thu Oct 20, 2011 9:13 pm


Postby CreganG » Mon Apr 24, 2017 12:40 pm

artard wrote:Thanks, anatolyk! This is fantastic!

Agreed, that's a lot to read through though right?
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Joined: Fri Apr 21, 2017 10:29 am

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