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The interview is basically an informal chat usually between 15-40 minutes, and is usually with two people in the faculty. Occasionally you get interviewed by the program director. The thing that they are looking for in a candidate is that the person should have clearly defined goals and reasons for their choices, be very motivated and enthusiastic and know what they want from residency and from life…. It’s a tall order to have all these answers figured out …. But they appreciate it if you do!

If you are apprehensive about the interview itself you can try and do a mock interview.

So the main questions typically asked during the interview are.

•    Why do you want to do internal medicine?
•    Why do you want to come to the US for residency?
•    What are your long term goals/ how do you see yourself ten years from now? They want to know whether you want to do private practice, general med, research, subspecialty fellowship.
•    Do you plan to go back or stay here?
•    What are your interests outside of medicine?
•    If you know what subspecialty you want to go into they will ask you why etc.
•    They may ask you what are your strengths and weaknesses. It’s good to be prepared with an answer!
Note: Giving an example of what to say for a weakness so that it can    actually sound positive: I tend to work too hard and not leave enough time for my personal life, I care a lot about my patients and sometimes spend a lot of time counseling them which can make me less efficient, I tend be a hands-on type of person and wish I spent more time reading journals and texts, etc. DO NOT say, I have a bad temper, I have a hard time getting along with others, I have problems staying motivated, etc
•    They may also just start the interview with a phrase like ‘Tell me about yourself’. It’s a good idea to say something specific about yourselves your strengths your interests…
•    Describe an interesting case.
•    Compare your experience at electives versus at your home medical school.
•    They will ask you a lot about your electives.
•    What were you doing since you graduated. Have something to say that is specific and constructive…. You don't all want to say you did clinics in a katchi abadi….  They have probably heard that too often already!
•    Another favorite question is, ‘why did you apply to our program?’
•    If there is something interesting written in your personal statement, the
Interviewer may have a question about that.
•    Questions on US clinical experience
•    Questions on previous research experience
•    RARELY (in community hospitals) you may be asked clinical academic questions (e.g. what is the management of heart failure?). This shows that they are more keen on using you for labor rather than educating you. You may not want to go to such a program.
•    Probably the most frequently asked question is, “What do you want to know about our program?” Always be ready for this. Research the program well so that you have plenty of intelligent questions to ask. Questions which relate to the program specifically (e.g. I remember reading that you send students to Brazil for international electives. Would you please elaborate on that?) are going to show far more interest than general questions (e.g. Do you intend on making any changes in the current structure of the curriculum?) Also, do not forget that the faculty hears the same questions again and again. Remember to ask questions that will make you stand out (favorably!) in their memories.

"FIRST AID for the match" has a list of questions and most questions are similar to those. "Getting into a residency" by Iserson also has interview questions.

Apart from the interview being a process by which they can see what you are like as a person, it is as much a process by which they expect you to assess the program. Therefore in all interviews you will be asked what do you want to know about the program, what questions do you have, do you have any concerns about our program?

You must be ready to ask them a lot of questions about the program…. This will show them that you are really interested in them and that you need to know the details to make your choice. You need to come across as very enthusiastic about the program. They will ask you why you applied to their program. You must have concrete reasons for applying to a program. That will show them that you didn't just apply to them at random (even though you may have)…. You can say that you are looking at programs in big cities/small towns….as the case may be, you can say that you know that the program is strong in a particular field you are interested in.

You must read up about the program on the web site before the interview so that you know some special or unique features about the program. For e.g. Indiana offers international electives to Kenya… if your interest is in ID you can easily tie all of this together. Washington University has a CSTAR program… in which you can do research… if your interest is research you can say that is why you applied specifically to them.

The interview process does take some getting used to so it is a good idea to schedule about two of your less competitive programs first to get the feel for the interview process.

If you do not interview with the program director and if he/she is around you must go up to them introduce yourself, thank them for the invitation, and tell them you like the program…. You don't need to have anything important or impressive to say to them… it’s just a good idea to go say hi!

It’s a good idea to think about what your priorities are for where you match and you realize this as you go to different places. In my opinion the important things were: I wanted to be in a relatively big place and not in too small a town. Also I wanted to have a big mix of patients. I also thought it’s good to have multiple hospitals preferably with a county hospital. Also, a program whose main goal is to let the residents run the show and make decisions and do procedures. (Baylor, Indiana and Emory, UT Southwestern are excellent in these features.)Think about what you want …. You may want an H1, you may want to be close to relatives, you may want to be in a city with a lot of desis. Or you may simply want to be in the best program you can get into. Everyone has their own priorities and it’s a good idea to think about where you want to be the next three or five years… Just being in a good program is not necessarily the most important thing. 

It is useful if you know what you want to do after residency …. For example, if you want to do Cardio …. It would definitely impress them if you have taken concrete steps in that direction like if your elective was in cardio … if you worked in cardio after graduation, if you did some research in the subject. It all shows that you are focused to one goal and know what you want…. They like that.

Interviewers do not, however, expect all of their candidates to have decided on the courses of their lives so soon. So, do not hesitate to say, “I want to enter my residency with an open mind and will decide therein.” The key is to avoid lies and exaggerations.


The following are some useful links with Interview questions and tips:

Note: This article has been derived from "Roadmap to Residency" authored by AKU graduates, with permission from few of the authors. Name of the original author, has purposely not been mentioned on request of one of the authors, for privacy reasons. If you are the original author of this article and want your name to be mentioned or wish this article to be modified/ removed from this website, please contact us and we would be more than happy to entertain your request. We fully respect your privacy, acknowledge your efforts put in authoring this article and appreciate your hard work involved in it.

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