10 Steps to a Successful Residency Interview

17 Oct 2013

by Allison Hoyle, D.O.

Fall is the exciting time in our medical education during which our residency interviews begin. It is important to be prepared for what is to come, as these interviews are different from any you may have ever had before. Here are some tips to help you succeed when you meet your potential future colleagues and mentors!

1. Arrive Early.
As you probably know by now, hospital parking can be complicated and with all the additions and renovations hospitals often undergo, it can only work in your favor to arrive at least 15-20 minutes before your scheduled time.

2. Dress to impress!
In 2011, Dr. Karen Pine of the Department of Psychology at the University of Hertfordshire conducted research which showed that women wearing skirts are perceived as more successful. If you choose to wear a skirt, however, be sure it is no shorter than 2” above the knee. All in all, wear something flattering that makes you feel comfortable and look professional. Comfortable, professional shoes are also a must. You never know if you will be in a skills lab, a staged patient encounter, or walking the entire hospital!

3. Practice with a friend.
You will be asked many questions by your interviewers. They will want to know more about who you are and what your goals in life are. Be prepared to talk about your medical school experience, specific cases you enjoyed, challenging situations, and even your personal life. Here is an excellent resource with sample questions: http://www.med.unc.edu/ome/studentaffairs/residency-and-the-match/files/MedicalResidencyInterviewQuestions.pdf

4. Make a list of questions for your interviewers.
For example, “What research opportunities are available?” “Is there a formal didactic curriculum?” “How are residents evaluated?” “What kind of electives are available and how many are there?” “Where do graduates go for fellowship?”

5. Research.
Know whom you will be speaking to. Read about the hospital and the program beforehand. As we learned with our clinical rotations, the more you know, the better able you will be to ask thoughtful questions and the more you will get out of your time with those you will meet.

6. Bring a copy of your curriculum vitae, journal articles which you have written, and contact information of your references.
Be prepared to discuss your accomplishments as well as any setbacks you may have had, and how you have learned from them.

7. Get plenty of rest the night before, and eat a balanced breakfast before heading out.
These interviews can run very long. You will want to keep up your stamina!

8. Take off your watch, turn off your cell phone.
Nothing is more important than your interview, so try to minimize the chance that you might offend your interviewer with buzzing, beeping, and glancing at your watch or phone.

9. Smile, Relax, and Be Yourself! Your future colleagues are searching for someone with whom they will be spending a lot of time.

10. Handshake.
A firm, confident handshake says a lot about you and makes others feel more comfortable. If you have not yet mastered this technique or if you are not sure, practice with your friends and ask for their honest feedback.

Remember, your fellow residents and mentors will be spending a lot of time with you once you are hired, so they are trying to find someone who fits in well with their group. Likewise, you will be spending a lot of time with them, so you will want to choose a program with people you wish to learn from and residents you enjoy being around. At the end of the day, you are essentially choosing your second family and the program which will shape you into the physician that you will become. This is a very exciting time and I wish you all the best of luck with your interviews and with the match!

Allison Hoyle, D.O. is a recent graduate of the New York Institute of Technology – College of Osteopathic Medicine. She was a professional pianist living in midtown Manhattan when she decided to return to school to study medicine. While volunteering at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital in New York, NY as a pre-med, Allison discovered her love of surgery. Seven years after observing her first laparoscopic procedure, she was scrubbed in and learning from surgeons at Jersey City Medical Center during what she described as the most exciting time of her life. She was class representative of her school’s surgery club, SOSA, during her first year of medical school, and a member of AWS’s first ever Student Committee in 2011. Allison has lectured at high schools and colleges in New York and New Jersey about her experiences as a medical student and has been interviewed by NPR and ScienceHouse.com. In her spare time, she enjoys riding and restoring vintage Italian motorscooters, Astronomy, and playing the piano. Allison is in the midst of her residency application process for the 2014 Match. 

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