The residency interview is a critical stage in the process of residency selection. Know what to anticipate from the residency interview experience, so you can be more attentive and confident when the day arrives.
After months of paperwork preparation, you finally have the chance to find out how the programs on your list compare with one another. Unlike the earlier stages in the residency selection process, which are focused on background research, the interview gives you the opportunity to visit and observe the program and meet your potential colleagues and mentors. Aim to:
The goals of the interviewers are similar to yours. They seek to confirm and expand upon the information that you provided in your application. They are also trying to determine how compatible you would be with the residents and faculty in the program. Just as you are trying to put your best foot forward, the representatives of the residency program want to show their program in the best possible light. However, it is ultimately not in the best interest of the program to paint a misleading picture. Like you, your interviewers are attempting to shape their rank order list of their candidates for the Match.
Often, the residency program will have prepared your itinerary, listing the names of the people you’re going to meet, and the amount of time allotted for each person (generally 20-30 minutes).
In addition to the program director, you should talk to other faculty members, residents from different levels of training, and any other individual with whom you would have significant contact as a resident in that program.
Remember that all members of the faculty and staff are critiquing you as soon as you start an interview.
You should see the hospital and clinic facilities during your interview. If there is free time, spend it in places where there are residents to get a better feel for the actual working environment.
Questions that you might be asked during an interview could include:
You will likely be asked a number of other questions, in addition to those listed above. Prepare for a variety of interviewing styles. Stay engaged and active during conversions.
According to federal law, you do not have to answer certain questions. Examples include questions about:
Develop both a list of standard questions that you want to ask every program, and program-specific questions that demonstrate to interviewers that you’ve researched and considered the unique qualities of their program. Know which person in which role you need to address your questions to. Ask follow-up questions when you have them.
With input from family medicine residency program directors, the AAFP developed a list of questions designed to help you learn about a residency program’s strengths, challenges, and areas of focus.
It’s a good idea to take some notes throughout the day to jog your memory about significant comments, concerns, particularly good points, or particularly bad points. Don’t concentrate on your notes so much that you interfere with effective interchange during the interview. Instead, note your impressions right after the interview.
The AAFP app makes it easy to organize your residency search. Use the tool to research programs, create a customized scorecard to rank residencies on what matters most to you, track your application process, and more. Just download the app and visit the "For Students" section.