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Residency Interview
Questions

39 Questions and Answers by
| Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter
who helps everyone from students to fortune executives find success in their career.

Question 1 of 39

Who in your life mentors, or inspires you?

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Residency Interview Questions

  1. 1.

    Who in your life mentors, or inspires you?

      Your life's inspiration can come from a book, a mentor, your family, a celebrity, author - literally anyone! Talk to the interviewers about who has inspired your life and why.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I find inspiration in a variety of people and things. I would have to say that the person who has most greatly inspired me has been my grandmother. She always had a smile on her face no matter how hard she worked and she loved everyone. She was well respected and always gave more than she received. I try to live like her as much as I can."

      Anonymous Answer

      "My mother is my biggest inspiration. She is one of the most hard-working and dedicated persons I have known in my life. She has always been my greatest supporter, and regardless of how tired she may be, she takes the time to listen to those around her. She sees the best in others and encourages them to be their best regardless of the challenges and expectations the world brings."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Your mother sounds like a wonderful person! If you take these qualities and apply them to your approach with patients, you will make a big difference in the lives of many. Nicely said :)

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  2. 2.

    What is your opinion on socialized health care versus privatized health care?

      This is the type of question meant to start up a conversation between yourself and the interview panel. They want to see a bit of your personal opinion, your critical thinking skills and your ability to be diplomatic when it comes to hot topics. Avoid any offensive answers! It's best if you can bring an answer that appeals to both sides while not appearing wishy-washy.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I believe that the basic concepts of socialized health care and privatized health care are good by nature, and speak to a range of patients. Some of my patients have expressed their love for socialized health care because, although they pay a higher tax rate, they are not caught in an expensive whirlwind when they face illness. Privatized health care on the other hand can offer significantly shorter wait times which is very important for those with potentially critical or debilitating illness. I believe it is important to have options for both so that people can choose."

  3. 3.

    Is there anything we haven't covered that you would like to ask?

      Before your residency interview, make sure you conduct research on the company and thoroughly review the program description for any clarification you may need on the residency position. Asking intelligent questions demonstrates to the interviewers your level of interest in their facility, and their residency program.

      If for some reason you are not prepared for the interview, and you need to think of questions off the top of your head, ask questions regarding their culture, traits they are looking for in the ideal candidate, and if there is anything not listed on the role description that this position will be in charge of.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "- When would you like to have this position filled?
      - What is your favorite part about working here?
      - What is the facility's primary goal for this position in the next 12 months?
      - Is there anything from my background and experience that I can clarify for you?
      - What do you see as the biggest challenge facing this facility in the next 12 months?
      - Is there any reason why you would not move me to the next stage of interviews?"

  4. 4.

    What is your personal mission statement?

      Not everyone has a mission statement or personal mantra just off the cuff. In the workplace, especially when entering a role in healthcare, this is an important question to ponder. Do you have a quote that inspires you, or a saying that you grew up with that really resonates with you?

      Rachelle's Answer

      "My personal mantra is that 'people who shine from within do not need the spotlight.' I feel that it is incredibly important to be a humble caretaker and I take this mission statement very seriously. I want my team to be in the spotlight rather than being the kind of physician that takes credit for all of the good work."

      Anonymous Answer

      "Always focus on the present. Whatever you do in the present will shape what your future looks like. So make the best use of "now"."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Wonderful mission statement! It seems that you are a true go-getter with a great deal of focus :)

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
  5. 5.

    Describe your personality to us in 3 words.

      The interviewers would like some insight into how you view yourself, and your personality. Notice they are not asking how others would describe you; but how YOU would describe yourself.

      Here are some great personality focused descriptive words that will help you to stand out.

      - Adaptable
      - Brave
      - Compassionate
      - Dynamic
      - Exuberant
      - Friendly
      - Generous
      - Helpful
      - Intelligent
      - Kind
      - Optimistic
      - Polite
      - Rational
      - Sincere
      - Thoughtful
      - Understanding
      - Versatile
      - Witty

      Avoid giving the same usual answer that everyone else will! Also, be sure to explain your answer to the interviewers.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "If I could describe my personality to you in 3 words I would say that I am thoughtful, intelligent, and friendly. My personality is well suited for a healthcare focused environment as my patients will find me to be approachable, with a mind that they care rely on, and a character that they can trust."

      Anonymous Answer

      "If I could describe my personality in three words, I would say that I am empathetic, thoughtful, and calm. My character is well-suited to family medicine because my patients will find me approachable. My style will foster the therapeutic patient-doctor relationship that is vital to family medicine."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Very well said! These are must-have qualities.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "If I could describe my personality in 3 words, I would say calm, adaptable, and goal-oriented. During my days as a junior resident in the ER at a hospital, we were severely understaffed that day, and we had almost 25 patients waiting in the triage area. I was nearing the end of my shift, but I realized that the two residents and the attendant would have a tough time managing patients. So I took it upon myself to streamline the triage, screen patients right there, and get only those patients who needed immediate attention and treated those who I could in the triage itself."

      Rachelle's Answer

      This is a wonderful example of your biggest personality traits. This answer speaks so much to your character and dedication in the workplace.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
  6. 6.

    What do you believe is the greatest challenge your specialty will face in the next few years?

      The interviewers want to see that you understand being a Physician will come with great challenges. You will often face situations that are out of your control, and there will be times you feel that your hands are tied because of policy or the actions of others. Discuss the challenges you foresee and speak a bit about how you plan to succeed despite these challenges.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "There are numerous challenges I believe that I will face as a family physician, over the next few years. For instance, the new policy surrounding MACRA for healthcare payments, changes in the way physicians certify their sub-specialties through the American Board of Internal Medicine’s (ABIM), as well as the maintenance of certification (MOC) process. One factor that will help me to forge through is the fact that all family physicians are facing the same challenges so I will not feel alone in that."

  7. 7.

    Who has inspired you in your life and why?

      Your life's inspiration can come from a book, a mentor, your family, a celebrity, author - literally anyone! Talk to the interviewer about who has inspired your life and why.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I find inspiration in a variety of people and things. I would have to say that the person who has most greatly inspired me has been my grandmother. She always had a smile on her face no matter how hard she worked and she loved everyone. She was well respected and always gave more than she received. I try to live like her as much as I can."

      Anonymous Answer

      "A lot of people and things have inspired me over the years, even people I have never spoken to, or just from things I watch. What I would say these inspirations have in common is persistence. People who just never give up. An example would be my mother, who earned her PhD at age 54, after almost 10 years of battling with it. Also, her ability to learn a new language at 25 and actually teach and earn an income with it."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Persistence is an incredibly strong trait and certainly one to admire in others. It sounds as though your mother is an incredibly smart and determined person. At the end of your response, it might be nice to mention one specific difference these lessons in persistence have had on your career-related pursuits.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "An author and motivational speaker who helped me to discover the world inside myself."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Good start! Of course, the interviewer will have some follow up questions such as, 'who is this individual?' or 'what are the greatest lessons you have learned from them?' For that reason, I recommend giving this information upfront vs. delivering a mysterious answer that leaves your interviewer wanting more :)

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
  8. 8.

    What are your strengths?

      Which personal strengths make you excellent at your job? Strengths can be skills or qualities that help you overcome difficult circumstances or accomplish challenging tasks.

      In a work context, your strengths will help you to complete your to-do list, understand patients needs, and help you to apply what you have learned in your training. Talk to the interviewers about a couple of your strengths and why those will help you to be successful in the medical field.

      Some great strengths to mention are:

      - Communicative
      - Loyal
      - Collaborative
      - Tech Savvy
      - Flexible in Schedule/Availability
      - Persistent and Determined
      - Eager for Knowledge/New Skills

      Rachelle's Answer

      "My greatest strengths are my attention to detail and ability to focus. I am very observant and a natural listener. This helps me to slow down enough to really listen to my patients and colleagues. I pick up on small details and devote my attention to whatever I am doing in the present. Even when I have other things going on, I am able to hone in on the task at hand and devote my full attention to each and every patient so they receive the care they deserve."

      Anonymous Answer

      "Based on my previous clinical and research experiences, I have proven my ability to make wise decisions in critical situations that benefit patients. I am also a team player. My colleagues know me as a hard worker and flexible person. I am an excellent communicator which allows me to build strong relationships with my patients and colleagues. In addition, I am very persistent, determined, and detail-oriented. I have a strong desire to improve my knowledge and skills which makes me an excellent trainee."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Very well said! You have many stellar strengths that will benefit you, your patients, and your colleagues. Your confidence shines through, and it's great that you mention the ways your strengths will create an impact during your residency and beyond.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
  9. 9.

    Are you applying for any other jobs?

      It always puts a little bit of fire under the hiring manager if the are aware that you are actively looking for a new position. Tell the interviewer about your search so far.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I am keeping an eye out for viable positions. Although I am not in final stages with any other company, I am actively seeking a new position."

  10. 10.

    How do you stay on top of trends and changes in the medical industry?

      The interviewers want to be assured that you fully immerse yourself in the healthcare industry. This includes keeping up to date on new trends, and having a great understanding of the challenges your industry faces now, and in the future. Talk about a couple of your favorite resources when it comes to staying on top of medical industry trends. It's also a great idea to ask the interviewers if they have any fresh recommendations for you. This can start a great conversation that will be helpful to you!

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I follow a few resources online for up to date information on the medical industry. My favorites right now are the medical blog, 'Uncommon Student MD'...a blog created by student doctors in medical school and residency. The other resource I read on a regular basis is 'Health Data Management', online. Do you have any recommendations for me? I love to learn and would appreciate knowing about any new and helpful resources."

  11. 11.

    While attending medical school, what fascinated you most about your cadaver?

      The interviewers would like to understand what intrigued you the most during your cadaver workshops in medical school. You can keep your answer brief but be specific and be sure to express your passion for learning when you answer this question.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "The experience of cadaver observation and dissection is absolutely incredible. It's hard to think of just one most fascinating point! If I had to choose, I would say that the most fascinating is the exploring and discovery of every skeletal muscle. The human body is amazing."

  12. 12.

    How do you invest in your personal development?

      As a physician it is very important that you avoid professional burnout. Part of that means you should have a beat on your personal needs. Talk to the interviewers about how you are able to maintain a healthy balance by giving back to yourself. Personal development is a very valuable habit and can include things like:

      - A regular yoga practice
      - A daily meditation practice
      - Attending courses and workshops for personal development
      - Reading books dedicated to personal development
      - Spending time with a mentor
      - Spending time being creative
      - Taking on a fitness challenge
      - Practicing gratitude
      - Building a bucket list and crossing items off

      However you choose to invest in your personal development, be sure to show the interviewers that you understand the importance of investing in yourself.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "It is very important to invest in myself, especially with a high-stress, high-pressure job as a physician. For the last 3 years I have invested in a personal coach who helps me to uncover my personal desires, and assists me in making a plan to achieve those goals. Also, I am adamant about my personal fitness and health. I take good care of my body because it's the only one I have. I need to be a strong example to my patients as well."

      Anonymous Answer

      "Personal care and development are very important in the medical field. Prayer and spiritual growth are two significant parts of my life that keep me grounded in who I am and who I am striving to become. Life brings challenges, and my spiritual life allows me to handle those challenges so I can help my patients who are facing their own."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Beautiful response! You show a lot of wisdom and self-awareness, which will be incredibly important characteristics as you move forward in your career.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "Personal development is something I believe is very necessary for a high-pressure job as a physician. For me, my development comes in the form of my personal fitness and through painting."

      Rachelle's Answer

      It's great that you mention how important personal development is for you. Try offering up some more details, such as what kind of things you do to keep fit, and the type of painting that you do.

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
  13. 13.

    Tell me about yourself.

      When an interviewer asks an open ended question like this, it can be difficult to know where to begin...and end! This question haunts many individuals who may accidentally go a little too in depth into their personal lives. It happens. Keep your reply light, and work relevant. Share how you became interested in this career path and what you enjoy about it. This is a great opportunity to describe yourself by discussing the strengths and qualities that you bring.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "I graduated from college with a degree in Biology and medical school has always been my top priority. I have wanted to become a doctor since I was little, and it is very cool to see this dream come to reality. I am very driven, personable, a hard worker, and a loyal friend. I study hard and take my schooling very seriously, but I also value maintaining my relationships with friends and family. Down time with the people I love helps me stay grounded and relieves stress. In my free time, I like to stay active by finding new hiking trails in the area. I am very exciting for all the learning I have left to do and the next step in my journey to becoming a doctor."

      Anonymous Answer

      "I graduated from UCLA with a neuroscience degree, and I love neuroscience - and a lot of my undergraduate activities revolved around neurological research and afflictions of the brain.. and that’s where my passions lie. I am a strong advocate of the patient-doctor relationship and the physician's role in reducing social determinants of health. On a less academic note, I play the flute, and I practice yoga, taking care of one's health is both physical and mental. Now I'm here and ready to begin the next chapter of my journey as a family physician."

      Rachelle's Answer

      Perfection! You take your educational background, your personal interests, and tie them perfectly into how this will all = a successful journey for yourself. Bravo!

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      Anonymous Answer

      "I was born and raised in Iran; since I was a child, I have always been looking for opportunities to learn and build a better version of myself which led me to go to medical school. After graduating from medical school, I worked as an emergency physician, where I got to work in a multidisciplinary setting and discovered my passion for radiology. Thereafter I decided to move to the US to expand my knowledge in the field and was fortunate to join the research team at BIDMC and to work under the supervision of Dr. xxx. This experience has allowed me the opportunity to expand my knowledge of conducting research in the field while getting familiarized with the US health care system and work environment. In addition, I have had the privilege of working remotely under the supervision of Dr. xxx and exploring my passion in more depth. Outside of medicine, I enjoy a wide variety of activates such as travelling, spending time with friends and family and activities for my personal development such as yoga which helps me to be resilient and work efficiently under pressure."

      Rachelle's Answer

      You provide an excellent overview of your experiences, and I like that you discuss what fulfills you in your personal life. I suggest including information on the 'future.' I like to coach on the 'Past, Present, Future' framework. If you want to learn more about answering this common interview question, we have a guide here that you may find helpful: https://www.mockquestions.com/articles/How To Answer: Tell Me About Yourself/

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  14. 14.

    What would you do if you witnessed a fellow resident acting unethically?

      The interviewers want to know that, if faced with an ethical dilemma or a dilemma in reporting a breach of ethics, that you will do the right thing. If, in medical school, you were trained on taking a specific course of action - now is the time to recite that. If not, you should create your own standard for ethics issues. Be sure to ask the interview panel if they have a system for reporting ethics issues, in their facility.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "If I see a fellow resident act unethically, I will refer to how I was trained on reporting ethical issues. The steps are as follows:

      1. Identify the breach of ethics.
      2. Apply the code of conduct or code of ethics to ensure that it truly is an ethical dilemma.
      3. Determine the nature of the ethical dilemma.
      4. Identify the trusted supervisor who should be made aware of the ethical breach.
      5. Implement the course of action.

      ...Rest assured, I have a very clear set of moral values and will not turn a blind eye to any breach of ethics in the workplace."

  15. 15.

    When you suffer a setback, how does that emotionally affect you and your work?

      Everyone handles the stress and disappointment of setbacks differently. When you work in the medical field, those setbacks can be amplified. Discuss with the interviewer how you typically cope with setbacks in the workplace.

      Rachelle's Answer

      "Experiencing a setback is always disappointing, and can be very disheartening, especially when involving a patient. I understand that setbacks happen often, and to everyone - despite their level of expertise or years of experience. If I experience a major setback I will take a few moments to internally debrief, get some fresh air if possible, or discuss what I could have done differently with a mentor. Then, I move on. People need me to recover quickly so that I can concentrate on the next case."

      Anonymous Answer

      "I understand setbacks are almost inevitable. Even people that have years of expertise and experience might still experience some setbacks. If that happens, I would calm down first, because panicking has never been shown to help, pray (because God is really important to me), and I would also seek advice from a mentor or someone in a position to advise me."

      Rachelle's Answer

      You do a fantastic job personalizing your response in a way that is professional, detailed, and allows the interviewer to get to know you better. Nicely done! If you have a specific example of a time when you suffered a setback and bounced back, this question may also be an excellent opportunity to give a story-based instance of a 'time when.'

      Was this answer helpful? Yes or No
      Anonymous Answer

      "Although setbacks are disappointing, I believe every setback can teach me something, and I try to make it a step toward a positive change and move on because I know that I need to save my energy and positive attitude to be able to reach that goal and provide excellent care for my patients."

      Rachelle's Answer

      You are right - it's essential to save energy and keep a positive attitude. It's for the good of you and your patients :) Do you have an example of a time when you suffered a setback but recovered by using the situation as a learning opportunity? If so, this question presents an excellent storytelling opportunity.

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  16. 16.

    What book are you currently reading?

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  17. 17.

    If being a Physician was not an option, what career path would you choose?

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  18. 18.

    Would you have any trouble working with a religiously affiliated hospital or medical facility?

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  19. 19.

    Tell us about the most interesting case you were exposed to while attending medical school.

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  20. 20.

    Are you willing to relocate for your residency?

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  21. 21.

    Competition for this space is strong. What makes you a stand-out resident for our program?

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  22. 22.

    What are your plans, after completing our residency program?

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  23. 23.

    Have you completed all ECFMG (Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates) requirements, to start a residency?

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  24. 24.

    While attending medical school, what was your favorite course? Why?

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  25. 25.

    What types of activities keep you busy, outside of work?

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  26. 26.

    All of our residency program candidates must pass a criminal record check and education verification. Is there any reason why you would not be comfortable with this?

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  27. 27.

    What are you reading right now?

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  28. 28.

    Do you have any questions for me?

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  29. 29.

    How do you handle stress on the job?

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  30. 30.

    If you could start your career over again, what direction would you take?

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  31. 31.

    Being a Physician is an incredibly stressful and demanding career. How do you manage high amounts of stress?

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  32. 32.

    How do you express your opinions on controversial topics such as abortion, euthanasia, and cloning?

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  33. 33.

    Are you applying to any other residency programs?

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  34. 34.

    We would like to know you on a more personal level. Outside of medicine, what are your interests?

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  35. 35.

    What do you see as the biggest difference between the U.S healthcare system and that of another developed country?

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  36. 36.

    Why did you choose your particular specialty?

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  37. 37.

    How would you like to see the delivery of healthcare evolve?

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  38. 38.

    What do you wish to gain through this residency program?

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  39. 39.

    What drives your passion for a career in medicine?

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