Be Prepared for Your Medical Residency interview: Top Four Tips on What to Research Beforehand

We want to give you a roadmap here on how you can best be prepared for your medical residency interview with these top four tips. One key aspect of preparation is going to conduct the necessary research on the residency program you are interviewing in. This does not mean 12 hours of detailed background work. Often times, a solid 1-2 hours with good notes can be more than enough to set the right impression. Here are some key reasons to do your homework before hand. 

Tip #1: Use the program’s website information to ask better questions.

To give you an example of this in action, we will give you an example as below, taken from the website of the Internal Medicine residency program at a community hospital:

From this less than 2 paragraph blurb taken from the website, we’ve highlighted a number of things that you can direct intelligent questions towards which would really impress your interviewers and show them how seriously you are considering their program. For example, some of the things that you can ask would be:

  • I was wondering if you could tell me more about the Bernard Gordon Skill Lab? I think that skills preparation is really important for the resident because the US healthcare system is more and more attuned to “quality of care” and that applies to the outcomes of procedures done by residents as well.
  • I understand that residents have an opportunity to take care of patients in a weekly continuity clinic, the Laboure clinic, could you tell me a little more about that?
  • I was reading the website and there was mention that residents could participate in hospital committees, what types of settings would this be in?
  • Could you talk to me a little about the educational and clinical resources available to residents? I know that Up-To-Date is available here and that’s wonderful.

As you can see, even just 2 paragraphs of information can provide a wealth of details. In fact, the online website is absolutely gold and is a definite must read before interviewing at a residency program. Never step into an interview without completely reading the program’s website. 

The quality of your questions at the end of an interview can reveal more to the interviewer than your regular interview answers. Good questions show that you are prepared, you are excited about the program, and you care deeply about the kind of training experience you’ll have. With good background research, your questions will stand out to your interviewer.

Tip #2: Do a quick background review of key interviewers, faculty, and the program director.

With virtual interviews, you’ll likely know who is interviewing you beforehand. This gives you a chance to look at your interviewer’s background, research interests, and hobbies. We advise you to only dig into what is obvious – published biographies and research interests. Too much detail can make the interviewer uncomfortable. By knowing an interviewer’s background, you can find commonalities and shared interests more easily. Weaving this into the interview can benefit you – if you both share a passion for quality improvement, you can slip this to an answer or go back to Tip #1 and make it one of your questions.

Tip #3: Do some basic research on the city and location.

In most cases, people like where they live – or at least they have found things they enjoy in that location. This is important because it shows you have thought about the broader environment. I found this to be important for residency programs in less than desirable locations. If your residency program is in the heart of New York City, you don’t have to make much of a point that you would love to live in New York City. However, if you are interviewing in a lower tier city or a rural environment, you should definitely check out Wikitravel and collect some basic points about the local area. Often times, rural environments boast outdoor activities – you can use that to your advantage stating that you have always loved hiking or exploring. I know this can definitely help as residency program directors feel that you can already imagine yourself living in their location and enjoying it.

Tip #4: See if you have a 1st or 2nd or 3rd degree connection.

This can be quite powerful. If you have a resident in their program that went to your medical school or came from your hometown or home province – see if you can do a quick reach out even on Facebook or WhatsApp. The goal here is not to get the resident on your side – that is not likely to happen. Rather, it helps during interviews to mention even a passing relationship with a resident. This shows you are finding connections and a network. If you don’t have this, don’t make it up. It’s not worth it – but we have seen this be helpful especially if the program really likes the existing resident.

Ultimately, there is only a limited amount of information available online. But, some basic research and using that information for targeted purposes can really hepl