4 Tips to Help You Totally Crush Your Residency Interviews

Finally, after years and years of school, you’re ready to start your residency. It’s an exciting time – after all, you’re finally out of school!  But, between you and your lifelong dream looms the all important interview (and accompanying residency). You’ve probably been interviewed before, for jobs and for school, but this interview might be the most important one yet, at least until the next one. No pressure, right? We have the tips and tricks you need to prove how amazing you are.

1.Do Your Homework

You wouldn’t go into a test without studying, would you? No! You’d spend hours studying and preparing so that you could ace it. So why would you go into an interview being anything less than 100% prepared? There are several things you can do to be prepared to put your best foot forward in your interview:

Research the Institution and the Interviewers

Try to get the basic information about those who will be interviewing you, and research them. You will leave a great impression if you are familiar with any of their work or accomplishments. But even if you can’t find out who your interviewers will be, you should definitely be able to find information about the institution. Understand the institution individually – what their specialties are, any notable doctors they’ve employed, research they are working on, and their overall mission  – and try to make your interview more personal than simply saying, “I’ll work anywhere that will help me fulfill my residency requirements.”

Your 5 Year Plan

More often than not, your interviewers are going to ask about your plans after residency. Be upfront about your plans. Do you see yourself staying there and looking for a chief residency position, or will you be returning to school?  No matter what your plans are, you want to make sure that the residency position you accept is going to be the best fit for you.

Practice your Answers

When studying for a test, you don’t know every question that your professor is going to ask. But, you usually have a pretty good idea of what they’re likely to ask. The same is true of an interview. Practicing your answers will help you stay on topic be prepared with an answer when you hear certain keywords and catchphrases. Your interviewers are not expecting you to be a professional speaker; however, they do want to know that you can communicate with them as you will be required to communicate with patients and associates.

  • Why did you want to interview with us?

Use this question to showcase your knowledge of the individual program, including your research of the interviewers, your potential teachers and what you hope to learn.

  • What strengths and qualities make you a good physician? What are your weaknesses?

While you want to highlight your positive character traits, this is also a great opportunity to highlight what makes you great in the context of your work experience. Don’t just say you have a great bedside manner, tell how you’ve interacted with patients in the past. Be sure to keep your answer relevant to your specialty.

When talking about your weaknesses, don’t sugarcoat. Everyone has weaknesses, but make sure to highlight how you work to bounce back and compensate for your shortcomings.

  • Why did you decide to be a physician?

This is a great opportunity to let interviewers know who you are a little better. Let them know what inspires and motivates you.

  • Why did you choose your specialty?

This is another great opportunity to let your interviewers know more about who you are. Talk about why you’re passionate about your specialty, what you want to accomplish, and why it’s the best fit for you.

  • Do you think that you will fit in with the culture we have at our institution?

While an institution may look perfect on paper, you might find that it isn’t quite what you expected once you get to your interview. And you don’t want to take a position where you don’t fit in.  

Your interviewers are not expecting you to be a professional speaker; however, they do want to know that you can communicate with them as you will be required to communicate with patients and associates.

2.Dress to Impress

First impressions can color entire relationships, and when they’re good, they can help you overcome any little missteps you might make in your interview. You want to be seen as a professional, so you need to dress like one; leave the scrubs at home. Make sure that your clothes are clean and pressed, that your shoes are shined, and that your hair isn’t wild. And since your phone is practically a part of your wardrobe, make sure to silence your phone and keep it in your pocket throughout the interview; or better yet, leave it in your car.

3.Timing is Everything

You may be nervous on the day of your interview, and that’s ok. If you’re especially anxious about getting lost and arriving late, drive to the interview location the day before your interview so you know how to get there. Make sure to get to the interview early, after all, it’s far better to be 20 minutes early than 2 minutes late. Bring extra copies of your resume and CV in a professional briefcase or binder, just in case.  

4.Don’t Leave Without Asking Questions

At the end of nearly every interview, you’re probably going to be asked, “Do you have any questions for us?” Although this question seems innocent enough, it is actually a great opportunity that can separate you from your competition instantly. You should be prepared to ask insightful, relevant questions about the institution, potential co-workers, the program, and working conditions. You can prepare a few questions like:

  • What traits do you look for in your ideal candidate?
  • Where do you see this program or institution being in 5 years?

But, you should also be prepared to ask questions based on the interview itself. So, be sure to take notes and make sure that this institution is going to be the best fit for you.

If you’re looking for top-notch residency programs, PhysEmp can help you find them. We have the best jobs and the most up to date contact information for employers throughout the country. So start your search today!

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