Most Frequently Asked Residency Interview Questions

Probably the reason you are reading this post, is because you are in the process of getting ready for residency interview season. As you may already know, this process could be very stressful given the fact that you are competing against thousands of other applicants. However, you must simply understand that the main reason residency programs conduct these interviews is to get to know the applicants and their personality and also to measure their reaction toward certain questions and to see how applicants react under pressure. Do not forget that they are trying to ‘match’ you to their residency program, so it is essential to be yourself and to be well prepared for these interviews. At the end of the day, you also want to be matched into a program that matches your personality as well. The following are some questions that we have gathered for you to use and practice.

Most Frequently Asked Residency Interview Questions:

  • Tell us about yourself.*
  • We have many good applicants. Why should we choose you?
  • Why did you choose to apply to this program?
  • What do you feel you could add to our program?
  • What have you learned about yourself from previous jobs?
  • How do I know you can show initiative and are willing to work?
  • What are your interests outside of medicine?
  • What are your major strengths?*
  • What are your major weaknesses?*
  • Why did you choose this specialty?
  • Tell me about your medical education?
  • Tell me about your previous clinical experience in (specialty name)?
  • Why are you so sure (specialty) is right for you?
  • Tell me about your experience with the USMLE exam(s)? (if candidate has so-so score(s) or failed attempts)?
  • Have you ever worked in an ICU (or other unit common to the specialty)?
  • Have you ever worked in an American hospital? Tell me about that experience.
  • How do you get along with nurses?
  • Have you ever taught other medical students?
  • Do you have any publications?
  • Are you interested in research activity? Please elaborate.
  • Have you ever made any presentations before a professional group?
  • Have you assisted in surgery? On what procedures? Tell me how you were Involved.
  • What are your long term goals?*
  • Where do you see yourself in 10 years’ time?*
  • What are you looking for in a training program?
  • What books have you read lately? Tell me about that (book, article).
  • Do you plan to practice in (program’s area or state)?
  • Tell me about the latest treatment for XXXX (a common disease treated by the specialty). (This is often called “pumping an applicant” and is not as common as it once was.)
  • How would you describe your decision-making style?
  • Describe the most difficult decision you have ever had to make. How did you go about it?
  • Describe the worst or most disappointing clinical experience you’ve had so far.
  • What will you do if you don’t match in (specialty)?
  • To what other (programs or specialty areas) have you applied?
  • What is your visa status (only if you are a foreign IMG)?
  • Describe a difficult time in your life and how you dealt with it?
  • Do you have any beliefs or convictions that might interfere with you willingness to deal with the kind of clinical situations you are likely to be presented with in residency training? (Usually asked if program director fears religious beliefs may prevent applicant from performing abortions, birth control, etc.)
  • What do you do to cope with stress?
  • Have you taken any CME courses? If not why not? (Asked to measure applicant’s initiative in seeking exposure to US-style of health care delivery)
  • Have you held any leadership roles? Elaborate.
  • What factors would lead you to rank a program very highly?
  • What factors would lead you to lower your ranking of a program?
  • What kind of personally traits do you find most difficult to deal with in co-workers?
  • What challenges do you foresee that will potentially affect this specialty in the next ten years?
  • What kind of patient do you find it most difficult to relate to? What tactics would you use to establish optimal rapport with such a patient?
  • What would you like to know about our program?
  • Do you have any questions about our program?*

Some of these residency interview questions are rarely asked but you should still be prepared for them. The best thing to do is to practice these residency interview questions with someone until you are confident.

Questions to ask the residents:

  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of the program?
  • What would you change about this program?
  • Do you feel that this program made you ready for the boards?
  • Would you consider the same program if applying again?
  • Why did you consider this program?
  • Is there an appropriate balance between service obligations and the educational program?
  • What has changed since you came to the program?
  • Is the program responsive to suggestions for change?
  • How accessible is the faculty?
  • Is the relationship with faculty collegial?
  • Do the residents get along with one another?
  • How do your residents get along with residents in other programs?
  • In what activities are you involved outside of the program?
  • How does your spouse/significant other like the city/area?

Recommended books:

The Residency Interview

How to Answer Interview Questions


The Successful Match

First Aid for the Match

Tips for the Residency Match


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