Tips to Ace Your Clinical Residency Interview
Medical students starting their final year will begin the interview process to find a residency. Here are a few tips that will help you ace those interviews.
If your interview invites have started rolling in and you are feeling intimidated by the thought, follow these tips to land your first choice of clinical residency.
Be prompt with your responses to interview invites.
Be sure to set your inbox to automatically refresh every hour during the interview season so you don’t miss out on the interview dates. Most residency programs have multiple interview slots that are taken up quickly.
You also need to make sure your interview dates don’t clash with other events, so know the schedule in advance and plan accordingly.
Prepare for Different Types of Interviews
There are several ways to interview: in person, by video, and by phone.
Different types of interviews need different preparation methods. For instance, if you are preparing for an in-person medical residency interview, you can do a mock session with a mentor so you are all ready to answer comfortably and confidently in your face-to-face interview.
When preparing for a video interview, you would need to ensure that you are in a quiet, clutter-free space and wearing the right attire. Also make sure that the backdrop is absolutely distraction-free, and finally test your webcam and microphone so you know they work and there are no last minute surprises.
Lastly, if you are prepping for a phone interview, do your homework just as you would for a face-to-face interview. You should be able to confidently discuss your strengths and skills during a telephonic conversation, so keep your resume handy if you need to refer to it during the interview.
You may also be asked about deficiencies in your application, whether it is a poor grade, a gap in your educational history, or a course you may have repeated, to see how you respond under pressure. So, be prepared to give an honest explanation that elaborates on what you learned from the experience without making it apparent that your answer is rehearsed.
Rehearse Your Elevator Pitch
Your elevator pitch is a way to share your expertise and credentials quickly and effectively with people who don’t know you.
- Keep it brief (30- 60 seconds)
- Be persuasive (spark interest)
- Share your skills (list your qualifications)
- Practice your delivery (for speed, pitch, and coherency)
- Mention goals (say what you’re looking for)
- Have a leave behind (a business card, a resume, etc)
- Don’t speak too fast
- Avoid rambling
- Don’t frown or be monotone
- Tailor your pitch to who you are speaking with
Do a Mock Interview with Behavioral Questions
This is a medical residency interview, so you can expect to be bombarded with tons of questions. Even though you may be well-prepared, inside and out, behavioral questions often make even the best candidates fumble.
When faced with such questions, it is best to describe the situation in detail, followed by your course of action and the outcome. The most commonly asked behavioral questions are:
- Tell me about a difficult time where you managed to work efficiently under pressure.
- Describe a demanding situation during medical school and also how you managed it.
- Describe a mistake that you made at medical school and explain how you handled it.
- Explain how you would deal with a colleague who is not doing his/her share of work.
Ask Questions to Leave a Lasting First Impression
At the end of your clinical residency interview, you are likely to be asked, “Do you have any questions?” Just the way you set the stage at the start of the interview with your well-prepared pitch. This is your final chance to make an impact or change the perception of the interviewer if you felt that things did not go in your favor so far.
Know and Plan for the Interview Agenda
You should receive an agenda prior to your clinical residency interview, within which will be given all the details regarding who will be on the interview panel, if there are one or more interviews, and if current residents are also participating in this interview.
Once you know how the interview is to be conducted, you will be in a better position to think through the arrangement and sound confident, even in a room with 20 people.
Prepare Impressive Answers to Commonly Asked Questions
There are certain questions that are asked in every medical residency interview regardless of where you interview or who the chairperson is.
Write out your answers to common questions like:
- Why did you opt for this residency program?
- How will you be an asset?
- How will you handle disagreements?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- What is the last book you read?
Use Your Strengths to Stand Out
If you have compelling clinical skills, find a way to share them. Even if you have a hobby or an accomplishment that may add value to your residency program, talk about it.
If you have begun adjunct residency preparation, such as residency-level online medical education, mention it as “pro-active” work to differentiate your commitment, will, and drive from other candidates.
This is your chance to shine, so flaunt whatever it is that makes you unique and leave an impression on the interviewer.
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