Residency Interview Guide

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Residency Interview Basics

Video preview
TWO things you need to know 1. Empathy (Mindset) 2. Practice (Skill)
Empathy - The most important skill and hardest to teach
Ask yourself; if you were to interview someone, what are the skills that you would need in that person and how will you be able to evaluate it in a 15-minute interview?
Practice - Skill requires practice! So, Practice! Practice! Practice!
We interview to assess your personality and to decide if you are fit for the job.
Medicine is a skill that requires practice and so does interviewing.

Let's Start with Empathy (Mindset) first?

Remember, there is a 90% chance that you will be ranked if you got the interview!
The question is not "if" but "how high?"
It's a match and not a lottery!

What is the program looking for? A Good resident!

Defining a good resident - The AAA-Team Qualities
Available = Response + able = Responsible
Agile = Respond changing environment (external trigger)
Adaptive = Consistently able to change oneself, malleable mindset
Team Player = Works well with others

What is the Purpose of an interview? Find a Good resident!

How do you define a residency? That is the Interviewer Mindset?
Defining the Job!
Clinical Job
Clinical Training
  • Clinical Job
    • Team player
    • Resilient
    • Hardworking
  • Clinical Training
    • Empathic
    • Learner
    • Resourceful

Why a Video or in-person Interview?

  • We communicate more with body language than words!
  • Because medicine is a team sport, communication is key!

Interviewing is a Skill; Rather a Combination of Skills!

  • Research - Make sure you know the job you are applying
    • In terms of specialty
    • In terms of program
  • Prepare - Know thyself!
    • Know your own application, personal statement
    • Backup (equipment)
  • Communication - It is more than words
    • Body Language, Tonality
  • Listen - Answer the question that is asked or get clarification
    • Pause - Do not be afraid of pause or dead space
  • Confidence - It is a match, not a lottery
    • There is a difference between arrogance and confidence
    • Tactful self-plug
  • Show interest - Show excitement that you are going to be a Neurologist
    • 🗣
      Ask program-related questions to show interest!
      • If assuming attention and hard work, after graduating do you think I will be prepared for the real-world challenge of being a neurologist?
      • What are the program's strengths?
      • Where do you think the program can make improvements
        • Education [interest of person and faculty]
        • Experience [procedures]
  • Dress Code - Dress professionally from head to toe.
    • Anything can happen that would require you to get up.
  • Be Punctual - Sign up on zoom at least 5-10 minutes before the interview starts.
  • Be polite - Have a genuine smile on your face
    • Be polite with every person you encounter during the interview.
  • Addressing people - Address them with their last name
    • Use their last name unless they invite you to call them by their first name
  • Follow up - Keep a list of names, email,s and one topic that can be a memory trigger
    • Neurology Application Dashboard

Other important Points!

  • Do not use your phone while giving the interview
  • Make eye contact during your interview
    • Please stare at the camera during your interview
    • Put a small pointer or a mark next to your camera to help you focus on the camera
  • Sit professionally
    • Don't cross your legs or lean back on the chair
    • Don't put your feet on the desk
  • Pronounce the name correctly
    • Please ask the Program Coordinator beforehand if you don't know the pronunciation
    • If you miss out the chance to ask the program coordinator, you can always ask the attending, the correct pronunciation, politely.
    • Because there are so many genders nowadays, you cannot just assume someone's gender and it is always better to ask them how they would like to be addressed
  • Don't make inappropriate comments regarding the faculty's dress color or how they look.
  • Do not boast about your qualities without having any good examples to support your claims
  • Be very cautious when questioning the authority because it can come off in a very negative manner
  • Don't play the entitlement card (like from the same city/country/college)
Smile 😄
Show your body language & enthusiasm for program and specialty

Basics of Virtual Residency Interview

How to Shine on Zoom!

Video preview


  • No traveling
  • Favors Introverts
  • More interviews!


  • Less engagement
  • Favors extroverts
  • Shorter

Learn Zoom basics

Switch to one-on-one view - Rather than Side-by-Side
  • Practice with friends
    • Especially breakout rooms again practice
  • Internet connection
  • Have a backup device ready
  • Have a backup internet connection
    • In some countries cellular has better reliability
    • Most cellular connection are good enough

Basics of Video - "ALF-E"

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A- Audio



EYE Contact!

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  • Audio is more important that Video
  • People will forgive bad video - But audio will ruin your interview
  • Make sure there is no background hissing noise
  • Use wired "earbuds" if possible decrease echo
  • Bluetooth add latency
Check your "Microphone" if not clear get one!
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Razer Seiren Mini USB Streaming Microphone: Precise Supercardioid Pickup Pattern - Professional Recording Quality - Ultra-Compact Build - Heavy-Duty Tilting Stand - Shock Resistant - Classic Black

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  • It is not about the camera; it is about lighting
  • A light is more important than a professional camera
  • Get a Simple light that directly shines on to your face
  • Find a brightly lit room
Background should be boring! [You need to be the center of attention]


  • Framing is the key to communicate body language
  • 1.5 - 2 inch above the head as dead space
  • Make sure you elbows show
  • Upto Navel
❌ Incorrect
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✅ Correct
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Eye contact

  • No Special Camera needed
  • It is hard on the Zoom
  • Adjust the Zoom window to One Fourth of the Size and place it under the Camera
  • Practice! Practice! Practice!
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Do this!

Stick Note next to Camera "Look Here!"


  • I prefer to keep a notepad and pen in my hand
    • Write keyword of the question down
    • Prepares you mentally to answer question precisely


  • Pause before you answer
    • To confirm the question is completely asked
    • To formulate an answer
  • Apologize for the interruption (it happens!)
Responsible = Response + Able
Smile 😄
A = Audio; L= Lighting, F= Framing
Eye contact!
Backup device/internet connection

Residency Mock Interview - How I would answer tough questions?

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General Questions

General Questions
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What's your story?
  • What made you want to become a doctor?
  • Why did you choose this specialty?
  • Why should we choose you?
  • What is a strength of yours? A weakness?
  • Which words describe you the best?
  • Who is your role model?
  • If you had to change one thing about the specialty you are applying to, what would that be?
  • If you couldn't become a doctor, what profession would you be in and why?
  • What do you do for fun?
  • Tell me a joke.
  • What do you like least in your chosen speciality?
  • What do you do in your free time?
  • If you had to pick a superpower, what would it be?
  • If you had the chance to be an animal, which animal would you pick?
  • What’s your spirit animal?
  • Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
  • How would your friends describe you?
  • What are you most proud of?
  • What books have you read in the recent past but not too long a time ago?
  • How would you describe your decision-making style?
  • If we let you choose the songs/music in the operating room, what type of music would we be listening to? and why?
  • What are your views about diversity and inclusion?
  • If you had $10 million in grant funding, how would you spend it to advance the field?
  • What role does research play in a physician's career?
  • Which social media platform you love the most and why? What are you views about social media influencers?
  • If you are provided with free plane tickets where would you go?
  • If you have the liberty to do any thing for one day. What would you do?
  • Which body cell type do you identify with? Which organ do you identify with
  • Which profession deserves the most salary in the world and why?
  • Tell me about something funny happened to you.
  • If you had the power to time-travel, which time would you like to go back to?
  • If you could invite any three living people at your place, who would you pick and what will be your topic of conversation?
  • What three words would you use to describe yourself to somebody new?
  • Have you thought of what you might do if you don’t get in to this specialty?
  • Define empathy OR Define patient-centered care.
  • What do you fear most when working in this field?
  • Which is your favorite book or movie? Tell me about it.
  • What do you think will be the next breakthrough in this field?
  • What are critical aspects of communication with patients?
  • Describe your learning style. Tell me about something you learned not in a school environment?
  • Tell me something that’s not on your CV that you’re particularly proud of.
  • Which quality makes you a good mentor?
  • Tell me how you would advocate for or design programs to assist an underserved community that you’re passionate about.
  • Do you have any advice for future applicants?
  • What is your favorite most gift and why?
  • Are you a listener or a talkative person?
  • Which deficiencies you would like to improve during the residency?
  • If you repeat your exams again, do you think you would get the same score?
  • If you asked to pick a crockery item, which one you will pick and why?
  • Tell me about your xyz hobby, you mentioned in your CV.
  • What are the differences in medical care in your country and in USA? Will you face any difficulty adjusting here?
  • Any piece of advice that impacted you the most?
  • Do you get jealous when someone knows more than you?
  • If you become president of America, what will be your foremost responsibility?
  • What do you think big breakthrough in the field of medicine or surgery will be?
  • Tell me about medicine in your country.
  • What is more important to you success or love?
  • Do you think money cannot buy happiness?
  • What is one thing you do not like about this city based on what you know?
  • Are you ready to move away from your home country?
  • Tell me about anything that you think I don't know?

Questions about Work Experience and Background

Questions about Work Experience and Background
  • Can you tell me about the volunteer work you did?
  • Have you worked in a US hospital? Tell me about the experience.
  • Do you have any interesting case to discuss?
  • Who was your most memorable patient?
  • Tell me about a research project you participated in.
  • Tell me about a situation where you came to class unprepared and how you handled that.
  • Tell me about most embarrassing moment of your life?
  • Tell me about a moment when you were forced to do something you didn't want to do.
  • Tell me about a misunderstanding/miscommunication that happened during medical school or clinical rotation and how you handled it?
  • How do you manage your projects in previous roles?
  • Have you ever worked under pressure or stress? If so, how you handled this?
  • Do you think these methods can be applied to this program? If so, why?
  • What is the most challenging aspect about this profession?
  • Tell me about a patient you had trouble dealing with.
  • Tell me about any situation when you overcame a challenge in your life.
  • Would you like to be involved in teaching during residency? If so, why?
  • Tell me about a time when you were creative or innovative.
  • What kind of patients do you find most difficult to relate to and what tactics you will use to built rapport with those patients?
  • Say you had a 24 hour call. What will make you think or feel that you had great day?

Questions about Residency Experience and Program

Questions about Residency Experience and Program
  • In what kind of setting would you like to practice? How are you planning for longevity?
  • Do you think you would be able to handle the stress and long clinical hours of our program?
  • What differentiates you/makes you stand out from other candidates?
  • If you had to describe the specialty (you are applying to) to a friend in three words, how would you describe it?
  • What challenges do you foresee facing this specialty in the next 10 years?
  • What aspects of the specialty (you are applying to) do you love the most?
  • Why do you want to join our program?
  • Would you like to contribute in research experience during or after residency?
  • Our program does not have many resources for research. You seem to have a great interest in research, do you think that will affect you?
  • Who is your idol in your respective specialty or life?
  • What are some challenges faced by the field right now?
  • How do you think you can motivate your coworkers?
  • Do you have any questions about our program?
  • Our program offers great opportunities in research but you have not mentioned any research experience. Do you think you will be able to contribute?
  • Do you have any questions for me?
  • What fellowship do you want to do?

In-depth Questions

In-depth Questions
  • What are the characteristics or traits in colleagues or co-workers you dislike the most?
  • When was the last time you got mad?
  • What would you do if you saw someone doing something that you didn’t feel comfortable with ethically?
  • Tell me about a time when you mediated a conflict between two people. This can be family members, teammates, co-workers, etc.
  • What would make you to give up on your dreams?
  • Medicine is transitioning away from a “doctor-centered” style of treatment and more towards a “team-based approach” when managing a patient. What does the term “team-based approach” mean to you?
  • Tell me about impactful lesson you learned from your mentor.
  • Tell me about a time when you had to think quickly on your feet.
  • Tell me about a time you were outside of your comfort bubble.
  • Tell me about a time you showed leadership.
  • Tell me about a time you made a mistake and the way you handled it.
  • Tell me about a time when you were disappointed in your performance. What did you learn from it?
  • What do you do to cope with stress?
  • Tell me about a time you had to think of a creative solution.
  • How do I know that you can show initiative and are willing to work?
  • What did you learn from a different specialty that will be helpful to you in this one?
  • What do you do when you make a mistake?
  • What can you say about the negative aspects of this specialty?
  • What is the hardest you've ever had to work to achieve a goal?
  • We all have unconscious biases. What is a bias you’ve had to overcome in yourself towards patients or towards others?
  • Imagine yourself at graduation 3 years from now. How will your PDs and your co-residents describe you? What accomplishments would they talk about?
  • Tell me about a time you were selfless or something remarkable you did for someone else.
  • Tell me about a time you were asked to do something you didn’t agree with.
  • Do you have any beliefs or convictions that might interfere with your willingness to deal with the kind of clinical situations you are likely to be presented in residency training?
  • What did you find hard during medical school?
  • Tell me about a situation in which you have had to work with someone you did not like. How did you handle it?
  • Tell me about a time when you made a choice that ended with a bad result?
  • What is your biggest concern/worry/fear as a resident/doctor?
  • Would people say you are smart? If so, why?
  • Tell me about a time that you had a conflict with a team member and how you handled it?
  • What accomplishment are you most proud of that’s non-academic?
  • When you look back at your career, how will you be able to tell if you were successful?
  • What person have you met in medical school who has inspired you?
  • What do you want me to know about you that didn’t fit in your application?
  • Tell me about an ethical dilemma you experienced as medical student.
  • What do you think we should look for in our applicants?
  • What do you want me to remember about you at the end of this interview?
  • How would your best friend describe you?
  • Describe your ideal day.
  • If you were chief resident on a service and one of your interns forgot to or just didn’t place an order which compromised patient care, how would you handle the situation with the faculty who expects the order to be completed, and how would you address the intern?
  • Tell me about a time someone on your team was not pulling their own weight?
  • What is something unique about you that will help me remember you amongst the other applicants?
  • Can you explain any small problems on your application that could bring you down on our rank list so that I can explain it to the committee?

Addressing Gaps, deficiencies and red flags

Addressing Gaps, deficiencies and red flags
  • What's the reason that you got a low score on STEP1 or failure on STEP 2CK (if any)?
  • Why do you have a gap between graduating from medical school and applying to residency (if any)?
  • As an older graduate (if you are), do you think your age would be an obstacle for you to excel in residency and why?
  • Do you think it would be difficult to be an intern as you have already completed your training?
  • Make sure you have reviewed your gaps and have answers to address them
  • Be honest about your deficiencies - "I am not a good test taker"

Avoid Clichés

Avoid Clichés
  • Tell me your weaknesses - Answer actual weakness like below but tactfully!
  • One persons weakness is other person's super-power
    • I walk fast - my significant other hates it!
    • I eat fast - May be reason for my weight!
    • I multi-task - Need to improve focus and deep work!

Illegal Questions to ask in an Interview (by the Program)

Illegal Questions to ask in an Interview (by the Program)
  • Religion, race, color, disability or genetics
  • Age, gender or sexual orientation, height, weight
  • Marital status, children, pregnancy or family planning
  • Which socio-political organizations do you belong to?
  • Do you smoke or drink?

Questions a candidate should ask the interviewer if invited

Questions a candidate should ask the interviewer if invited
  • About resident evaluation
  • Vision for the future of the program
  • What opportunities do residents have after they graduate
  • Is it fine to not ask any question at all?

Things to do after Interview

Things to do after Interview
  • should do the thing you told them about like mentioning your plan to take step 3 in the interview
  • should we send thank you notes or not?

Other Resources!

Other Resources!

The secret to better Zoom calls is zooming out

Empathy Is The Most Important Leadership Skill According To Research

Why you Should Interview others?

How to Ruin your Interview

How to prepare for Residency Interviews?

How to Answer Residency Interview Questions?

How to Prepare for a Virtual Video Interview?

You do not need to buy this .. But conceptually understand the importance of Eye contact

How not to answer 10 medical school and residency interview questions

Neewer 2-Pack Dimmable 5600K USB LED Video Light with Adjustable Tripod Stand



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