The Basics of Taking Residency Interviews

Residency interviews can cause a bit of anxiety and stress. However, by knowing how to properly prepare, execute, and follow up with your residency interviews, you will feel more relaxed, confident, and able to succeed.


Preparing for the Interview

The first step of preparing for residency interviews is to do as much research as you can. 

This will include visiting the hospital’s website to learn about their program, Mission and Values, history, and anything special about that program, like what they emphasize or what additional training they provide. Furthermore, this is a great opportunity to try to get to know (and memorize) the important members of the staff, such as the Program Director, Program Coordinator, and Chief Residents. Finally, familiarize yourself with the region, including important historical notes, and other aspects of the area that may be important when deciding if you would like to live there and why (hint: this is often an interview question). 

The next step is to review your own documents as thoroughly as possible.

Remember, anything that is in your application is fair game for an interview question! Thus, you should know your CV inside and out, and be ready to answer questions about your Letters of Recommendation, Personal Statement, and beyond. Familiarizing yourself with your own credentials will also help you prepare a few talking points for each experience.

Finally, it is time for practice.

We recommend partnering with someone you know in the health field that you are close enough to give you honest feedback, but not someone you are so comfortable with that you do not feel a degree of pressure for the exercise. This will be a great time practice any red flags that may come up in your application. Additionally, make sure they are able to give you feedback on your body language, tone, speaking rate, and efficacy of communicating ideas. If you want, have them throw in a few questions you are unprepared for to see how you act when caught off guard. Finally, consider taking a video recording of your practice sessions so that you have a feedback loop for consistent improvements in performance.


Taking Your Residency Interview

Remember, your interview begins as soon as you step into your car.

So, wake up early, take several relaxing breaths, and get to the interview with plenty of time for any unexpected impedances. Drive slowly in the parking lot, and be kind and courteous to every single person you encounter. Greet people with as much calm and positive energy as you can. Try to keep your body language receptive yet confident, staying away from both overconfidence as well as shirking away (shyness).

During your residency interviews, remember to breathe!

Maintain an upright posture and as much eye contact as you can muster. Try to be engaging, smile, and answer questions in a straightforward way. It is okay to show a bit of your personality here too! They are trying to gauge if you will be a good fit for their program. They are looking for diligent, enthusiastic, well-rounded team players who are really going to add to their program for years to come.

Your engagement with the interviewer is also important.

Be sure to ask questions when prompted. You should have already come up with a few various questions depending on who you are speaking with. They should be different from Chief Resident to Program Director, for example. Also, be sure to express your thanks and gratitude with each person you speak with. Even if you got tripped up here or there, remember that a strong closing can make a lasting impression.


Following Up After Residency Interviews

Be sure to follow up after your interviews.

At the minimum, we recommend sending a personalized email to each person you spoke with. Things you can mention include something memorable about your interview, aspects of the program you are looking forward to, and anything else which stands out.

You can also consider sending a handwritten thank you letter to programs as well.

It may not be a bad idea to send this a bit closer to the Rank Order List deadline, as to refresh yourself in their memories.

Remember, if a program responds and expresses a high degree of interest in you, it is okay to reciprocate the feeling in return!

It is better to not leave them hanging after telling you that they hope you Match. This will give them more confidence to rank you highly when it comes time.


So there you have it. The basics of successful residency interviews include thorough preparation, which will help you be the most relaxed when it comes time, self-awareness and confidence during the interview, and leaving a courteous and lasting impression with everyone you speak with. With these basics under your belt, you will be well on your way to success!