Residency Interviewing

Resources for Medical Students

Residency interviews are an opportunity for medical students to make the best impression upon program directors and others who will select students for their residency positions. It is also a time for students to assess the program and how it matches your own career and training goals. Information below has been compiled from University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine students, residents, program directors, advisers and the Associate Dean for Admissions and Student Affairs.

Residency Interview Strategies Workshop

Interview Structure

  • Interviews are scheduled October through January.
  • Plan on at least one full day. Often a social event, dinner, or reception, is scheduled the night before. It is important to attend.
  • Allow time to see the community, if you're unfamiliar with the town.
  • If your spouse is traveling with you, schedule time to assess things about the program or community important to him or her.
  • If your spouse doesn't come, bring back information important to him or her about schools, housing, jobs.

Preparation

  • Preparing will lessen your anxiety.
  • Organize your background information on the program. Review it just before going to the interview so the program is fresh in your mind.
  • Practice interviewing. Your last interview might have been admission to medical school. Remember you will have a job after graduation but your performance during the interview might be the difference between your "dream" job and a less than perfect match. Find a faculty advisor, talk with the Office of Student Affairs, check with residents and graduates who have entered that specialty to get a sense of the type of questions often asked.
  • Bring copies of your CV, personal statement, and an updated Medical Student Performance Evaluation (Dean's Letter). You can get this from either the Reno or Las Vegas Office of Student Affairs.
  • Schedule your first interviews at programs lower on your list to obtain interview practice. Schedule interviews at programs you may decide to cancel at the end of the interview season.
  • Anticipate questions, but don't memorize or have "canned" responses.
  • Dress professionally, conservatively, and comfortably. Men: Wear a suit, not a sport coat and khakis. Navy, gray, solid, or pinstripes are appropriate. Short hair. Jewelry minimal. Clean shaven or conservative facial hair. Women: suit, skirt or pants are appropriate. Classic, solid colors. Simple, comfortable shoes. Jewelry minimal. Conservative makeup and perfume.
  • Check the weather so you have appropriate clothing.
  • Plan to ask questions when you are given the opportunity. Often your questions are just as important as your answers to interviewers' questions.
  • Use the program website. Look up pictures of the program director, chief resident and others. This will help you know whom you are talking with in the elevators and hallways.
  • "Cold calls" to programs far away from Nevada can help with 'regional bias' - the perception that you won't move far away from your home state.

Travel

  • Schedule your interviews together to avoid travel burnout.
  • Take time off in between interviews.
  • Try not to schedule more interviews than you can really do and to your best. Many students say more than three to five interviews per trip is too much.
  • Use low-cost travel websites that offer last minute, discount airfare and hotel.
  • Use the shower to steam your clothes - unpack your interview clothes as soon as possible when you get to your hotel. 30 minutes in a hot steamy shower should take care of most of the wrinkles in suits. Other clothes will still need ironing.
  • Late interview offers: Other candidates have probably canceled; so be wary of these unless it is a program you really want. You may be far down on their list. However, if it is one of the programs you were hoping for, take the opportunity and plan to shine during the interview.

During the Interview

  • Spend time with the residents. Watch them work together. Check out all the clinical training locations, hospitals and clinics.
  • Gather information on resident morale; accreditation status; program quality; program size; educational structure; clinical responsibilities; how residents are evaluated; success of residents obtaining fellowships; and research and teaching opportunities.
  • Information on stipends, leave time, and benefits are covered in a packet sent to you after the interview, or it is available on the website. Most of the people you will be interviewing with are not involved in this aspect. If you have questions, contact the institution's Graduate Medical Education Office.
  • You are being evaluated by everyone you come in contact with. Even if it is a long day, be professional the entire time.
  • Be appreciative of the clerical staff organizing the interviews. These staff members will have input into the decision.
  • Be prepared to discuss the reasons why you are willing to relocate for their program. If programs aren't sure you really are willing to make such a drastic relocation change, it may move you farther down their rank list.
  • Sample Questions - Check out this page for some sample questions

Follow up

  • Send thank you notes; an absence of one will be conspicuous. If a program directs you not to send thank you notes, then don't send any.
  • Make phone calls to programs you really are interested in. Programs want to rank students they think will really come there. Let them know you want to be in their program.
  • Second visits or interviews can sometimes be requested. Use your judgment. This can get very expensive and isn't typical. Consider a second visit if it is your top program. Second visits shouldn't be necessary if you've already done an elective at the program.
  • Be cautious about promises programs make to you about where you will be ranked.
  • Write down your impressions about the program soon after the interview ends. Organize this so you can refer to your notes when you write up your rank list.