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How to Handle Every Type of Residency Interview

posted Apr 20, 2015, 1:01 PM by Explore More   [ updated Jun 23, 2015, 9:11 AM ]

Although the overall residency interview consists of the interview dinner, formal interviews , lunch, hospital tour, overview of program and benefits, the formal interviews cause most prospective residents the most worry.

It’s here where you will be put on the spot to explain most pointedly why you’d be a good fit for the position over the competition.

While it can be nerve-wracking, formal interviews give you a chance to put your best foot forward to win the spot you want. With preparation and strategy, you should be able to do just that.

With that in mind, here are interview format types and how to handle them:


These are the most common type of interviews, and they are the easiest to manage because conversations are most like those you have every day. They range between three and eight individual interviews per day for about 15 to 30 minutes each.


These interviews tend to be four to five interviewers with one interviewee, but it’s not unheard of to have eight interviewers on a panel.

Becoming more popular with multiple programs, the panel interview is more confusing than one-on-one interviews because they are harder navigate. For some prospective residents, it’s hard to decide who to talk to and it can throw some off.

A good rule of thumb is look at the person who asked the question initially and make eye contact with him or her. After you transition to a new thought as you answer the question, switch your responses to other people in the room, so you are able to speak to everyone.

Multiple Applicants Together:

This is the least common type of interview, but it’s gaining popularity. The format is one or two interviewers with a panel of applicants where the interviewees are asked the same questions at the same time.

The purpose is to see how you fit into a group with a group you don’t know. They want to find out if you are too timid, so you don’t jump in to answer any questions, or are you too bold, so you roll over the other interviewee in order to answer every question.
The best strategy is to take the middle of the road approach. Be the first to answer some questions but allow the other interviewee a chance to speak too.

Remember never be demeaning to the other interviewee. Even if you are right about an answer, it will throw up a red flag to the interviewers that you lack the requisite social skills to work with others.