Securing admissions and completing medical school comes with many hurdles. With several assignments, deadlines, exams, and lab practicals to keep up with, the end might seem far from sight. Further, just when you thought graduating from medical school is the end of your journey, you realize you still have additional years left in your training.
To become a full-time practicing physician, you need to complete a residency in the field of your choice, which is the final stage of your medical education. It takes place after medical school, and your eligibility depends on several factors, one of them being the residency interview.
Interviews are important in your admission process as it allows residency program directors to gauge if you’re a good fit for their team. No matter how well you score in med school, if the interviewer doesn’t like you, you probably won’t get into the program.
Residency interviews are not only a way for program directors to evaluate you, but also a way for you to evaluate the program. You’ll likely be interviewed by the supervisor you’ll be working under, so this is an opportunity for you to build rapport with the supervisor. Understanding the work your supervisor does at the institution will give you an idea of the kind of work you’ll be doing and the things you’ll get to learn during residency.
Here are some tips for the residency interview you’ll find useful.
Tips for Acing the Medical Residency Interview
- Your personal statement letter should be perfect
Residency programs review your personal statement and decide if they want to interview you. Hence, your statement should be well articulated and must reflect your goals and personality. During the interview, you may be asked questions based on information you’ve included in your statement, so it’s important to ensure all information is accurate and that you’re able to answer the questions without faltering.
- Be prepared with some common residency interview questions
Each interview and interviewer will be different, but you can expect to be asked some common questions, such as “what made you want to be a doctor?”. Go over the common interview questions and practice answering them with a peer or mentor so you’re ready for the question during the interview. Also, be prepared to answer questions about yourself and specific instances in your work history.
- Learn about the program
Do your research about the program and the program director. Knowing something about the program or the director helps build a good rapport and keeps the conversation flowing smoothly. Moreover, you may be asked to highlight aspects of the program that attracted you to it.
- Choose appropriate attire
As much as we want to believe that looks don’t matter, looks do have an impact on the overall impression you make. It’s recommended to go for a polished and sophisticated look so interviewers know you’re serious about the program. First impressions do matter in situations like this where you have just one interview to make or break it. Choose clothing that shows you’re right for the job, and that you’ve made this interview a priority.
- For virtual interviews, your tech should work without a glitch
For virtual interviews, make sure your wifi is stable, the lighting in your room works fine, your camera shows your face clearly, and the background is clean and devoid of clutter. Do a practice round before the day of the interview to ensure the tech is working smoothly.
- It’s okay to relax during the interview
Interviews can be a high-stress situation for most candidates, which is why it is important to relax during the interview. You can smile occasionally while talking. Smiling helps calm your nerves and also makes you seem friendly, confident and approachable. Interviewers tend to appreciate candidates who seem enthusiastic about the interview rather than those who seem nervous.
Residency interview season can be daunting. Remember to give yourself enough time to prepare for an interview. Remind yourself that it’s okay if you don’t perform well in one interview; you can use it as a learning curve for your next one.