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Preparing for Your Residency Interview

6 min


Medical Student preparing for Residency Interview


Crush Your Residency Interview!

Performing well during the residency interview is critical in maximizing your chances at being ranked well in a particular program. In order to present the best version of yourself, you must prepare, then practice, practice, and PRACTICE! This cannot be emphasized enough. Below are some tips for what to focus on in your preparations:


Know yourself:

    1. Know yourself and be prepared to fluently describe your past experiences (childhood, hardships, personality traits, etc)
    2. Prepare ~10 important personal stories that you can apply to behavioral interview questions (i.e. a time you had a conflict with a team member, a time you had a difficult patient encounter, a time you received negative feedback).
    3. Obtain a list of potential interview questions and brainstorm answers to these. Residency interviews are peppered with open-ended questions that allow you to expand on your education, accomplishments, and passions. You need to have answers ready and clearly defined since some interviews may be short and those seconds can count!


  • As a side note–brainstorming may mean different things for different people – anything from simply formulating responses in your head to literally writing out responses to common questions.  
  • At the same time, try to keep at least somewhat of an impromptu style of answering these interview questions such that you do not sound too rehearsed as an applicant and so you can sound more genuine to the interviewer.


  1. Do at least one formal mock interview (ideally with someone knowledgeable about the process).


Know your application:

  1. Know your application!!! This might seem obvious, but anything on your CV/ERAS is fair game, including the abstract you were 4th author on during the summer of your M1 year. Aka–be ready to discuss anything!
    1. Our tutors found that research (#1) and hobbies (#2) were the 2 most commonly asked about topics during interviews. Even though the “hobbies” section is easy to skip through and leave blank, please do remember to fill it in as many questions that interviewers have that related to an applicant’s fit for a particular program stem from these hobbies.
  2. Practice answering interview questions about your application (with a classmate, parent, current resident, mentor, etc.) to make sure you can speak about your experiences fluently.


Know the program:

    1. Research information about the program and about the key staff at the program you are interviewing at, so that you are knowledgeable about the program and can show specific interest (which you should do regardless since you may end up there for 3+ years!!)
    2. Have some specific reasons why you want to go to that program. If there is a particular doctor you really hope to work with, or if there is a certain clinic you want to get exposure to, share this! Be thoughtful in your answers because this is going to set you apart from all of the other applicants.
    3. If there are any alumni from your medical school at the program where you are interviewing, it’s a great idea to reach out to them beforehand to learn more about the program, express your interest, and get interview day tips.
    4. Especially when interviewing in smaller cities or cities geographically far from your medical school, be prepared to be asked “Why would you move from Chicago to Pittsburgh?”


  • Ideally, answer with reasons both related to the city and program, but you can always fall back on – “I’m excited to explore this new city, and I am most focused on training at the best possible program, and I think your program could be that for me because….”


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About the Author

Alexandra R., MD

Alexandra earned her Neuroscience degree from the University of Michigan, graduating with Summa Cum Laude recognition in 2014. She continued her education at the University…

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