Top 15 Residency Interview Mistakes to Avoid

Getting an elusive residency interview invitation is a momentous achievement! Doing well then takes careful preparation. However, a good performance also necessitates avoiding the top residency interview mistakes. Let’s go over these 15 residency interview mistakes that may sink your chances:

1. You did not prepare.

Really? These are the most important interviews potentially of your career and your life. Taking time to adequately prepare is essential. Luckily, there are some amazing free resources available to help you succeed, like this InterviewPrep YouTube Series!

2. You are not dressed for success.

Residency interview attire should be business formal. Anything less than this can make you seem less prepared and less desirable.


3. You come off as shy and uninteresting.

Residency programs are looking to get to know you better during the interview. Make sure you give them something to work with in terms of engagement, excitement, and interesting details.


4. You come off as boastful and arrogant.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, programs don’t want to see that you seem so full of yourself that they can hardly get a word in edgewise. Prospective residents should come off as affable, and most importantly, teachable.


5. You don’t maintain good eye contact.

Whether interviews are in-person or virtual, good eye contact is very important. Imagine that you are speaking with a patient. They would want open, friendly, and respectful eye contact in order to maintain a sense of understanding and trust. So do residency program interview committees. Practice looking at the camera for virtual interviews. It may be harder than it seems!


6. Your body language expresses discomfort.

Fidgeting, looking around, and constant adjustments of hair or clothes all express discomfort. Worse yet, they make your interviewers uncomfortable as well! So, stop fidgeting and sit still. Don’t use a chair that can roll or swivel either, because even your micro-movements will be exaggerated by the back of the chair. Make sure the attention will be focused exclusively on you and your thoughtful answers.


7. Your answers are long-winded.

Remember – “K.I.S.S.” – Keep It Simple Silly! Your answers should be direct and concise yet detailed and engaging. As such, your responses should be relatively short. Avoid rambling on and on! They may even have forgotten what they asked you. A good response is about 30 seconds to two minutes.


8. Your answers are short or uninteresting.

Interviewers are looking for opportunities to ask you follow up questions. These are based on interesting or compelling tidbits from your response to an original question. As such, give them something to chew on. A well-placed juicy detail or allusion to otherwise unknown aspects of yourself can leave them hoping for dessert!


9. Your internet speed is insufficient.

Slow or glitchy internet can interrupt the flow of your interview. You want it to go smoothly and distraction free. As such, make sure you invest in sufficiently high-speed internet for at least the duration of the interview season. A minimum of 50 Mbps is recommended. However, opting for 100-200 Mbps would be even better.


10. You forgot your pants.

What?! Uh-oh. Don’t forget your pants. Some residency programs want to make sure you’re dressed for success from the waist up… and the waist down.


11. Your virtual background is unflattering.

For virtual interviews, your background should be not be distracting. For example, you can have a blank, neutral colored backdrop. Or, you can utilize tasteful decor that may stimulate an interesting question.


12. Your lighting is poor.

Good lighting, well – puts you in the best light! Take some time to make sure this aspect of your virtual interview is on point.


13. You forgot to review your ERAS Application/CV.

Questions WILL come from your ERAS Application. Make sure you know yours inside and out.


14. You forgot to review your Personal Statements.

Same as above – take the time to make sure you can discuss content found within your Personal Statement in a fresh and original manner. Don’t just repeat what is already there if brought up.


15. You did not research the program or prepare questions.

This really falls under #1 – which is to prepare. It is worth reinforcing that coming in with a solid knowledge of the program is extremely helpful. Moreover, having prepared questions tailored to each program can be a huge plus for you.


Residency Interview Mistakes

There you have it. Learning about the top residency interview mistakes to avoid will surely help you take the necessary steps to do well. Remember to prepare yourself for each interview, as no two will be exactly alike.


If you want more in-depth help with Residency Interview Prep, you can start practicing like a pro via Interview Prep at Match A Resident.