Tips on Interviewing with Residency Programs

The residency interview is a critical component in the process of residency selection. After all the preparation, you finally have the chance to find out how the programs on your list compare with one another, and where you best fit.

Dr. Stan Kozakowski, a physician with 15 years' experience as a residency program director, offers these tips to help you find the program that's right for you.

1. Take the pressure off of yourself. Remember, there is no one perfect program, but there are likely several excellent choices.

2. Know yourself. Consider the things that are most important to you: location, needs of a significant other or family connection, curricular emphasis, etc.

3. Download the AAFP APP to research residency programs, create your customized scorecard, and track your application process.  

4. Apply only to programs that you would be willing to attend, since it is possible that you may match there.

5. Write an authentic personal statement. Your personal statement is your only opportunity to present who you really are to those responsible for selecting interview candidates. Avoid the temptation to say what you think interviewers will want to hear.

6. Line up qualified letters of recommendation. Only request letters of recommendation from people who know you well and who can speak about your unique attributes.

7. Do your homework. Learn as much as you can about the program before the interview day so that you can ask relevant and meaningful questions. See our recommended questions to get started.

8. Everyone matters. Remember that everyone you meet may provide input into the match process, including staff not officially interviewing you.

9. Relax and be yourself. You need to feel comfortable with the people in the program, and they need to feel comfortable with you.

10. Follow up after the interview. Express your gratitude. Ask additional clarifying questions only if they are truly helpful to your decision making.