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FAQ: Interview Process for Residency Programs

Accepting Interviews: Accept offered interviews as soon as possible. Set up a separate email that only interview offers will go and use that as your primary email point of contact in ERAS®.  Interviews are often offered on a first-call/firs- reply basis, so if you delay responding, you risk being put on a wait list.

 Interviewing is Expensive: Consider travel costs when planning your interviews.  Planning ahead can help you make the most cost effective choices (driving versus flying; car rental versus taxis/ubers/public transportation). If interviewing locations do not offer to pay for your hotel, consider staying as close to the interview site as possible – especially if you are interviewing in areas that experience winter weather which can make travel tricky at times.

Attend the Interview Social: Most, if not all programs have a social the night before an interview which gives applicants a chance to meet residents in a relaxed environment.  Attending the social will give you a feel for the environment of the program, but also know that residents are in return getting a feel for you and if you will fit in with their program.  Program directors often ask for resident feedback from the event, so remember that even though it’s not as high stakes as the interview, you should present your best self!

Men should wear dark suits (black, gray, pinstripes are ok if they are small/not distracting) and solid colored ties with their dress shirts.  Women should wear dark suits (pant or dress suits are fine). The top can be a colored shell, but should stick to a solid color. Interviews are not a time to be noticed for your clothing choices. Make sure clothes are wrinkle free.

You can help yourself prior to the interview by making sure you can answer questions regarding:

  • Memories of favorite patients or interesting operative cases
  • Potential ethical scenarios you may have experienced and how you navigated those situations
  • An activity or event that demonstrates your leadership ability
  • Constructive thoughts about your medical school experience
  • What you are looking for in a residency program and what is most important to you
  • What attracted you to the program when you applied
  • If you have an anticipated career path (subspecialty, academic or private practice)
  • How you personally prepare for surgical cases
  • How you fill a knowledge gap and what are your lifelong learning strategies
  • How you are currently preparing for residency

Be prepared for interviewers to ask about the questions you might have about the program. Make sure you have a list prepared in advance so you can ask your questions of the program director, residents and faculty members interviewing you that day.

Prepare for your residency interview with a mock interview. Mock interviews can be uncomfortable, but the best way to go through the interview process with the least amount of nerves is to practice. Ask faculty members, residents you may know, or even a family member to help you prepare for the interview.