Thursday 27 October 2011

Dealing with residency interview questions (part 1)

Troublesome questions
There are a few questions that are in the residency interview question bank that seem to create trouble for residency seekers. Some questions that were pointed by a helpful reader are discussed below.

How many interviews do you have?
Answer this question as it is except, i believe that if you have 16+ interviews, you may want to cap you number at just that. If you tell the PD that you have an exorbitant number of interviews, they may assume that 1. either you will match somewhere irrespective of what you do (which may not be the case) or 2. you are too good for that place and will therefore not rank the program high. This is discussed further in the article why 15+ interviews and no match.

Where else do you have interviews?
15th century USMLE
Applicant pausing to think before answering
You can be pretty generic for this question as you will not be prodded further, if you answer that you've interviewed in Chicago, Memphis, Houston etc.. Unless, the PD or faculty are from that city, they may want more detail or else they may just glaze over this answer and leave you be. Remember, the PD is wanting to gauge the "demand factor" for the applicant and you have to be careful in this regard. If you rattle off Harvard, Mayo, Cleveland clinic etc as your interviews at a middle tier or community program, it is sure to influence the PD. They will think that you will not rank them high and therefore you may be at a disadvantageous position. If you name a few low tier programs (community, IMG rich programs in NY etc)  I personally do not think that they will hold it against you. 

Where did you interview before?
Again, there is no reason to be very specific, you can just say that you interviewed in New York prior to coming here. Unless the PD backs it up with a second question where in NY, you can just be generic. 

Where is your next interview?
Similar answer as above.

Is this your first/last interview?
This is actually a good question to get. It allows you to express your thoughts on the program to the PD. You are more likely to get this question if you are towards the beginning or tail end of the interview season. The programs are not going to dock points from your interview experience if you say it is your first interview. In fact you can say it is your first interview and with out a pause add that, 'you are very excited to be here because you like what you have heard about the program'. 

In case its the tail end and/or it is your last interview, then you can say, "yes it is my last interview, and this is a great opportunity to compare my interview experiences and so far your program is on top".


In conclusion, delivery of your answer, confidence and the rapport that you are able to build with the interviewer are one of the most important deciding factors of the outcome tough questions posed at an interview. How to have a successful interview is a good article to read.

I welcome comments for this article, so that the reader may share their opinions too. You might also like 16 things to consider for a residency interview. You can also read about the second part of the article here

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