The Importance of the Residency Interview: Challenges Facing IMGs

The data is clear – if you are an international medical graduate (IMG) you are at a disadvantage for matching compared to American medical graduate (AMG). In a 2022 survey of program directors published by the National Residency Match Program, 80% of programs will seldom or never interview a non-U.S. IMG. For U.S. citizen IMGs! For American IMGs, it is not much better – 51% of PD will seldom consider interviewing and 20% will never consider interviewing. For those of you curious, the survey is fully publicly available at NMRP.

This means every interview for an IMG candidate is precious. Thus, nailing the key residency interview questions are key. Previous surveys for program directors showed things like letters of recommendation, USMLE scores (or target levels), and personal statements are key in netting an interview. But, when it comes to ranking and your chances of matching, the interview is everything. The most important factors for ranking:

  1. Interactions with faculty
  2. Personal attributes
  3. Interactions with house staff

What this shows is that the interview becomes the driving factor where you land on the rank list. Remember, you only need to match to one program so if a single program loves you and ranks you highly – you’ chances rise dramatically. We see too often amazing IMG candidates that work so hard to nail their USMLEs, get great letters and experiences, but fail to interview well and drop on the rank list out of contention. With the vast majority of interviews now virtual, standing out with strong answers that convey your strengths is more essential than ever.