After mastering the art of answering medical school interviews and surviving medical school, there’s no doubt that the challenges are any different when you do your medical resident interview.
Every specialty is unique so most of these questions are wrapped around scenarios specific to the specialty residency you’re applying for. Fortunately, there is a way to systematically answer these questions without burning yourself out from the ‘analysis-paralysis’ of the process.
While one may argue that a CV, dean’s letter, or having a high rank in class is enough evidence to gauge your abilities for a specific residency, certain metrics can be gleaned from interviews. Here are some of the probable reasons why interviews are necessary for resident candidates:
This is a qualitative factor that shows your ability to connect with fellow healthcare workers, patients, and colleagues. Doctors should be sociable as part of their patient care. Doctors need to communicate effectively patient care details since this requires collaboration among nurses and fellow doctors.
The hospital is a mixed bag of every personality, culture, and family background. The social dynamics within this institution along with the demands of the job can get overwhelming for someone socially awkward or egocentric. Interviews allow program heads to see a glimpse of your persona, especially in highly stressful environments.
Interviewers want to know you are for real. There’s a possibility that you may sound fluent and knowledgeable in your essay. However, in-person interviews will reveal how you interact and react. Furthermore, the committees are hiring a person they want to work with and complement those who are already on the team.
While these may sound a bit intimidating, take these residency interviews as an opportunity for you to determine the possible environment you might be immersing yourself into. It’s also a chance to get to know your colleagues, faculty, and staff in the hospital you plan to take your residency. Here are some of the takeaways why residency interviews are good for you:
After your application, the interviews are usually done from fall to January. Other programs may require you to wait for a call for an interview schedule. It can be discouraging to find those around you who might already be getting interview schedules. But instead of wallowing, try to be productive and do your best during your rotations. During downtimes, you can practice on these interview questions so you are well-prepared for it when the opportunity arises.
While this may be an unusual question to be asked for a medical residency program, interviewers want to know more about your personal life. ‘Real-life’ conversation like these gives them a clue on how you handle your free time once you’re out of the hospital or taking a break. Considering that hospital responsibilities can get overwhelming, it’s easy to lose enthusiasm and persistence on the job. Doctors who don’t know how to balance their personal and professional life often live under stress, anxiety, and constant burnouts. Having things to do outside the hospital that doesn’t involve any academic or clinical agendas will help them understand how you manage these challenges.
This is another random question that you may be asked during your residency interview. It might catch you off guard and could overthink the answer. The safest way to answer this question is in a calmly and honestly.
Out-of-the-blue questions like this may only be looking to evaluate how you respond to different situations like these. If you’re a bit stuck on how to go about it, you can repeat the question to buy more time. This could also be a chance to lighten up the mood and could not affect your evaluation.
It’s the most common question asked on several job interviews—and it’s no different for residency interviews. The interviewer asks this question to calibrate your strengths and what you could bring to the table.
One way to ace this interview is to structure your answer in a way that shows you as a resident and as a colleague. Some program directors would prefer teachable residents and those that they can see working with for the whole duration of the program. Considering the nature of the work, fellow residents would prefer to work with someone they can rely on especially in stressful times. However, the ‘likeability’ factor is not all there is to it. The combination of a good attitude, right skills, sociability, and good communication allows everyone within the team to perform at their best.
This is another common interview question across the board. While this is ‘common’, it shouldn’t be disregarded as just another interview question you need to get through.
You can research about the program ahead of time. When a question comes to mind, write it down. Consider noting what strikes you most about the program and why it is important for you. Asking questions about the program shows your interest and showcase the initiative you’ve taken before the interview. This investigation could also provide insights into deciding the program you’re going for.
If there are no adequate materials about the program online, you can try checking the demographics, local activities, and other relevant details of the program. You can also structure your questions based on the program’s strengths and weaknesses, the number of residents staying after the program has been completed, and what they find most interesting while working on the program.
This is a question that might throw you off guard. It is meant to be answered by anyone and it’s universally experienced by everyone. Common scenarios include working with a disagreeable colleague, taking on a leadership role, or being mad at something that happened during medical school.
Answer this question as honestly as you can. Some situations merit anger as a good response against intolerance. It could be that a colleague is sabotaging a project your team is working on because of his laziness or incompetence. This validates the emotion that you are standing for. In a different scenario, misplaced anger could also provide an opportunity for you to show that you could admit your wrongdoing and make amends.