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Preparing for Residency Interviews

The interview is perhaps the most anxiety-provoking aspect of the residency application process, but possibly the most important. It serves as a means for a program to find out about you and whether they believe you would be a good fit into their residency program. However, and perhaps more importantly, it is an essential way for you to get to know a program, its strengths and weaknesses, and culture, and whether it is a place you feel would be the best match to spend (at least) the next three years of your life.

Although interview day schedules vary somewhat between institutions, there are several activities that are common to most:

  • Pre- (or post-) interview dinners or other social activities with residents intended to provide an opportunity to interact with current staff outside of the formal interview process.
  • An orientation to the institution and residency, including a discussion of the educational program, salary, benefits, and support services.
  • A tour of patient care and educational areas where you would be training and learning
  • An opportunity to participate on rounds with an inpatient team or with residents in an ambulatory clinic.
  • Interviews with between two to five staff, residents, or both.
  • An exit interview with someone from the program leadership (such as the program director, an associate program director, or chief resident).

Interview days tend to be long and exhausting, particularly if travel to and from the program is distant and you participate in any pre- or post-interview activities; this needs to be considered when planning your interview schedule.

Although many applicants do not look forward to residency interviews, remember that much of what you get out of your interviews depends on your attitude toward the process and what you seek to accomplish through the experience. Remember that the interview process is the one (and possibly the only) opportunity you have to actually see and experience what a program is like - important information for making a major life decision!

Learn more about preparing for residency interviews