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Below, we share interview tips that will help you avoid some of those first-interview blues and prepare you for successful encounters with residency programs.
Residency interview tips
Learn how programs schedule interviews. The ERAS has an interview scheduling tool that lets residency programs send interview invitations to applicants. It also lets you schedule yourself for residency interviews within the ERAS system and wait-list and decline interview invitations.
Keep in mind, however, that ERAS programs aren’t required to use the ERAS interview tool—they can choose to contact you by phone, email, or another online scheduling tool. That means you should research residency programs to find out their preferred method for scheduling interviews.
View this as a job interview. Granted, many residency programs are affiliated with medical schools, but by the time you’re applying for residency, these programs aren’t so much looking for students as they are for colleagues. They want to know you’ll be able to handle patients’ clinical care and effectively manage your responsibilities.
It’s important to realize interviewers will evaluate your candidacy as a professional who’ll be their colleague in the teaching, learning, and patient care process. How you present yourself and interact with interviewers and others is a critical part of the process.
Practice interviewing. Mock interviews can help you become more comfortable with speaking and be less nervous with the overall process. Check out your student affairs office to find someone who has valuable residency interview experience and is willing to practice with you.
Be prepared to answer challenging questions. Every program approach is slightly different, but you’ll most likely encounter typical questions such as: “Where do you see yourself in the future?” or “Tell me about yourself.”
Yet because they’re weighing in on your professionalism, maturity, work ethic, and teamwork, you should also be on the lookout for more challenging questions that stimulate reflection and show your depth and spontaneity. They may ask questions like: “Tell me what role you tend to take in a group” or “How do you handle conflict?”
Be prepared to ask questions, too. It’s OK to ask questions—most interviewers will expect it. The key is to ask questions that are relevant to your interests and show interviewers that you’re thoughtfully analyzing the program. Have a list prepared, but don’t worry about asking the same questions to different interviewers throughout the process. It can help give you a broader understanding of the program.
Make the most of your visit. Aside from the interviewers, try and talk to other faculty members, residents, and staff so you can get a feel for who your colleagues may be and even what they think of the residency program.
Also, try to see the hospital and clinic facilities during your residency interview. Remember, while this is a chance for programs to evaluate you, it’s also your opportunity to observe the educational, clinical, and social atmosphere of a program to see if you want to rank it for The Match.
Relax and be yourself. Most residency interviews aren’t meant to be confrontational or intimidating. Interviewers simply want to confirm and expand on the information you provide in your application and see how compatible you could be with the program’s residents and faculty. They want to learn more about your values, what led you to pursue a medical career, your views on patient care, your professional dreams, and more. And, when you’re as relaxed as possible, they will.