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What are Some Basic Residency Interview Questions?

posted Apr 21, 2015, 7:50 AM by Explore More   [ updated Jun 4, 2015, 9:01 AM ]
What are Some Basic Residency Interview Questions?

Students are usually most apprehensive about the residency interviews because it’s the most important part of the process. While you can prepare yourself, you will have to think on your feet to some extent. Fortunately there are a few techniques that can help you. One of those is when stumped with a question, buy time. Ask them to repeat the question or be reflective by saying, “That’s a great question” before moving on.

But whatever you do, don’t tell interviewers that you’d like to skip a question or say you don’t know the answer to it. Remember – some questions aren’t designed to test your specific knowledge but rather how you handle pressure and how you think on your feet. So, in some cases, it’s not as important what you say, but how you say it.

Here are a list of questions that are most commonly asked and some ways to answer them:

Tell Me about Yourself: This is one of the most dreaded residency interview questions because it’s so open and vague. Try to answer it in a way that you are giving them important information about yourself and why that makes you a good candidate.

Describe Yourself: Your goal is to create a colorful description of yourself, so they are more apt to remember you. Think ahead about how you want to answer this. Pick three words that best describe you and work from there. If you need help, ask your friends and family what those three words might be.

What are Your Best and Worst Traits? Most people have no trouble describing their best traits. It’s the worst traits that get them into serious trouble. Why? Because they become cliché: “I work too hard” or “I don’t know when to say no.” Avoid clichés at all costs. Interviewers hate them because they will suspect you’re not being honest and are simply trying to manipulate the interview. So what to do?  Try asking yourself what your worst traits really are. By being honest you will be able to better describe these traits and come off as sincere. But then when you answer the question, tell interviewers how you are overcoming these bad traits.

Patient Scenarios? Examples of patient scenario inquiries are: Give me an example of compassion. Give me an example of a decision that was made that you thought was wrong. To answer these types of questions, go through your patient logs to find two or three patients who had an impact to you. Then, think of how you can spin these patients’ stories into patient scenario answers.

Long and Short Term Goals? Interviewers want to hear what kind of physician you want to be, where do you hope to practice, what your interests are as a physician. The point is to tell them you have professional goals and you know why you want them. They don’t have to be grand goals, but rather that you are planning ahead for your career. Make sure you have the insight to say “here are my plans and here is how I plan to get there.”

What are Your Hobbies? Find something unique to you and don’t make it up to appear interesting. If luck is not on your side, one of the interviewers will have that same hobby or know someone who does and will quiz you on it. If you appear to be disingenuous, you could lose your chance at landing a residency all over a hobby misstep. It’s simply not worth it.

What is the Last Non-Medical Book You’ve Read? Right, like you have time to read as a medical student. Don’t worry, they know that. It’s one of those questions designed to see how you answer it. So, even if the last non-medical you’ve read was five years ago, tell them about that book. Talk about what you’ve learned from it and then tell them a book in the future you hope to read.

Why Family Medicine and Why this Program? Make sure you have done your homework about the program. You will be booted out of contention if you answer wrongly.

Where Else Have You Applied? The best way to answer is to give examples of programs that are like the programs that you’re interviewing for. You don’t have to give specifics unless they ask. But if they ask specifically, answer with a few of them.

How Do You Plan to Rank Us? If you are asked this question, be diplomatic. You can say, “I plan to rank you highly, but I’ve not finalize my rank list yet.” It’s a fair and honest way to answer it. Never tell them that they are your No. 1 program unless they truly are. If they are in your top 3, it’s OK to say that.