Some Suggestions for a Good Residency Interview
Dr. Steven S. Shen, MD, PhD,
Be comfortable, confident and be yourself: you get your interview, that means that you are one of the many (for IMG) candidates that have unique qualifications and stands out. It is an opportunity to show your strengths and who you are and let them feel that you will fit well into a group for the next 4 years or longer.
Honest and respectful answer is always better than half fake or less than genuine ones: most people who interview you have had many years of experience and trust me they can tell whether you are tell them all the truth and what you really think.
Have a firm hand shake; be energetic, enthusiastic, and positive in your conversation and entire interview.
Some of the most important qualities that are valued for a good resident in a residency program are: responsible, team work, willingly and happily doing extra work, motivated, respectful, and professional.
Let the interviewer decides the flow of interview, content of conversation, and timing: one of the common mistakes some people make is concerning about on time for the next interviewer (i.e. by checking the time); once you are arriving for the interview on time, it is not your responsibility to make sure you are on time for the next interviewer.
Have a short and longer version answers for some of the most common questions you will encounter such as “why this specialty?”, “any prior experience related to this specialty?” “your personal strength, unique experiences (clinical, research etc) that stand out etc”.
Try to get some idea about what they do and their specialty: you are expected to do some homework about the program, your specialty and each interviewer. I heard story about one of the candidates asking about a famous doctor (truly top in their field) what his research field and his focus are.
Interview is an opportunity for you to highlight your unique personal strength, prior achievements and any additional qualifications that are not evident in your c.v.; Don’t repeat chronologically your education and experience in great detail unless you are asked. Usually you don’t talk longer than 1-2 minutes without let the interviewer have the opportunity to acknowledge your points and prompting additional conversation.
Be careful with your interaction with everyone during the entire interview process – the way you interact with secretary, resident, fellows, junior or senior faculties, or program Director, Chiefs, and Chairmen etc.
Your answers and conversation have to have logic and to the point; make sure that you understand their questions. Don’t rush yourself and be clear what you are saying. When you don’t truly understand the question, ask nicely for clarification (not too many times).
Try to have a good ending by saying what a pleasure to meet them, thank them for the opportunity and your appreciation for their time, introduction of their program and specialty, and their encouragements (hopeful).
Sending a short thank you card or email will not help you very much; but it is better than not sending one.