While it is not reccomended to memorize the exact answers, it is undoubtedly very helpful to review and practice answering most common residency interview questions before interview. Grouping questions by purpose helps candidates to understand the idea behind a specific question and to know how to answer other possible medical residency interview questions. Read about residency interview preparation here.
We recommend that you answer questions about your career goals genuinely and honestly. A few tips for answering these questions are:
Keep an open mind. Your answer should convey that you are interested in exploring and learning about the specialty as a whole, even if you have a specific interest in a subspecialty. Remember that you will get training in all aspects of the specialty during residency, not only the subspecialty you are interested in.
Are you interested in academia? If so, express your interest and explain why you would like to continue in education or research.
If you’re enthusiastic about research, tell them that you plan to get more involved in research in the future and what type of research you are interested in.
If you plan on returning to your home country after residency/fellowship, you can mention that too. You could also explain what impact you hope to bring back to your home country when your training is finished.
Be honest! Some of these answers could be taken positively or negatively by a program. For example, if you are interested in academia and a certain program does not focus on academic medicine, then mentioning your strong interest in research or academia might hurt your chances there. At the end of the day, though, you want to match into a program that will nurture your interests and prepare you to achieve your career goals.
TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF:
This question will pop up in almost every residency interview, so you should prepare for it now rather than answering spontaneously. Consider the following:
Talk about the highlights of your life. You can start by talking about yourself, your family, or the country/city you grew up in. Include only experiences that have significantly impacted your life or career path – you will need to prioritize here!
Clinical experiences in your country and the United States (if you are an IMG). Again, focus on the highlights without going into the details of these experiences.
Research, volunteering, and hobbies. Instead of describing the details of your research projects or volunteering activities, focus on how these activities have shaped your personality and helped you become the person you are today.
Click here to see a sample answer for this question.
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 being asked to lay my cards directly on the table. One good approach to these types of questions, whether they are asked as straightforwardly 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 together, particularly in high-stress situations in which you must rely on one another and having people you like around you would be ideal. This doesn’t mean that likability trumps talent. It means that you must bring an aptitude for and good attitude to the program; therefore, your response to this question 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 Questions: Don’t attend your interview without watching this!