Step 2: Interview

Attending Your Residency Interviews

Austin Kosier MD provides information about the residency interview process
Austin Kosier MD provides information about the residency interview process

Residency Interviews

I've Submitted My Application, What's Next?

After you have submitted your ERAS application and supportive documents to your desired residency programs, then the interview process begins. 

Programs who feel you would be a good fit for their institution will invite you for an interview.

You will then accept any and all invitations you receive. 

Interviews provide the opportunity for you and the residency program to determine how compatible you are with each other.

When is Interview Season?

The interview season mainly occurs October-January of your final year of medical school.

As mentioned on the residency application page, ERAS opens September 15 to submit your application to residency programs and your MSPE becomes available to residency programs through ERAS on October 1. 

Click the button below to review more information about the application process.

Invitations for interviews can start coming in after September 15 if the program feels they have enough information and are interested in you as a candidate. 

Therefore, you may receive interview invitations as early as September. 

Other programs may take longer and contact you for an interview as late as December. 

However, the main interview months are October-January as indicated above. 

Should I do a Mock Interview?

Yes. If your medical school offers mock residency interviews, then it is beneficial to participate.

It will help you prepare for the types of questions that may be asked, and it will also help you identify your interview strengths and weaknesses.

If you are not provided with the opportunity to participate in mock interviews, do not panic as they are not a necessity. 

Furthermore, you can strategically plan your interviews to "practice" at the programs you are less interested in so you are prepared for the ones you are most interested in (see "Is There a Strategy to Scheduling Interviews" below). 

How Do I Schedule My Interviews?

While each program varies, most use self-scheduling tools and calendars that allow you to choose your interview date. 

Try to schedule an interview as soon as you receive the invitation as slots can fill quickly. 

Residency programs may send interview invitations in groups, so scheduling early will give you the most flexibility.

Is There a Strategy to Scheduling Interviews?

The first strategy is more of a piece of advice, and it was mentioned above. Schedule your interviews as soon as you receive invitations. 

This will allow you to have more flexibility in your scheduling, especially when you start receiving invitations from other programs around the country.

If you wait too long, then whatever interview dates remain may overlap with interviews you already have scheduled at other programs.

The second strategy is to save the interviews to your desired programs for fourth or fifth if given the opportunity. 

While this may not always be possible, it may be beneficial to do so if it works out.

You will gain experience with the interview process at the first 3 or 4 programs, and you will feel more prepared for your higher-stake interviews. 

What to Expect on Interview Day?

Interview Arrival

You should plan your travels to arrive at the location of your interview the day before if you can as most interview days will begin in the morning. 

Some programs will have a dinner and/or social mingle the evening before your interview day (or the evening of your interview day). 

It is usually just the current residents at the program and the applicants who attend.

This is a great time to informally speak with the current residents about the program, and to get a feel for how compatible you would be if you were to attend the program.

Interview Day

Be on time. Smile. Be yourself. 

The interview day will typically begin in the morning with a presentation from the program director and/or other faculty and members of the residency. 

You should dress professionally. 

You and the other applicants will take turns interviewing with various members of the residency program such as the program director, assistant program director, attending physicians, other faculty, or residents. 

You may interview with 3 or 4 people, with one of them usually being a final year resident or chief resident. 

Between interviews, you may be waiting in a common room with the other applicants or you may be shadowing any other activities the current residents are participating in at that time. 

Once the interviews are concluded, most residency programs will then have a joint lunch with the applicants, residents, and faculty. 

Lunch is typically followed by a tour of the hospital and facility. 

Lastly, there is usually a briefing after the tour for any final questions and concluding thoughts from the program director. 

Interview Departure

You will then depart the location of the interview and either travel back home or to your next interview destination. 

What Types of Interview Questions are Asked

The interview questions asked will vary from specialty to specialty. 

However, most programs are steering away from "pimping" of candidates or testing their medical knowledge. 

Interviews are generally very friendly, and it is a way for members of the program and the candidate to get to know each other. 

Programs may ask why you would be a good fit for the program, what qualities you have that would positively impact the program, what your strengths and weaknesses are, what activities and professional attributes were you involved in during medical school, what your interests are within that particular specialty, etc. 

While the program will ask you questions, remember they were already interested in you enough to offer you an interview. 

Therefore, they will be just as interested to hear what questions you have, and what they can answer about the program that will help you consider attending their institution. 

Come prepared with questions as a result.

You can ask about the residency curriculum, the rotations, the environment of the hospital, the camaraderie among the residents and faculty, etc. 

Communicate your passion for the specialty and confidently convey your interest for the program. 

Should I Send Thank You's After My Interview?

While sending thank you cards or emails is not required, many students choose to do so out of courtesy and to express their interest for the program. 

If you choose to send thank you's, make sure to personalize it to that individual, the program, and what you discussed or liked about the institution. 

You do not want programs to think you are sending the same general statement to everyone. 

If you choose not to send a thank you, then you should at least send a professional follow up email or letter to the program director acknowledging them for their time, expressing your interest in their program, and thanking them for their consideration in ranking you. 

Is the Interview Season Expensive?

Yes, it can be. It is important to plan out your finances prior to and throughout your interview season.

Your costs can add up quickly, especially the more interviews you attend.

While some programs might pay for food, lodging, parking, transportation, etc., many other programs do not cover interview costs. 

This will mean you have to factor in flight costs, gas mileage, vehicle wear and tear, lodging, food, parking fees, etc. when planning your interviews. 

Can I Cancel an Interview?

Yes, you may cancel an interview. It is good practice to notify the program whose interview you intend to cancel, as most programs have a waiting list of medical students who could fill your spot. 

I've Completed My Interviews, What's Next?

Congratulations! You have now completed your interviews, and the match process begins.

Click the button below for more information about the match process.

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