Is The Residency Interview Similar To The Medical School Admission Interview?

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How Similar Are Residency Interviews and Medical School Admission Interviews?

Students waiting on the wards in Tanzania While there are a few similarities between a residency interview and a medical school admission interview, the aim of both these interviews is quite different and that itself sets the stage for several differences between the two. During your medical school admission interview the interviewer’s main aim is to assess your commitment to medicine, whereas at the residency interview, no one is trying to determine your commitment to medicine, but instead they are specifically assessing your commitment to the specialty to which you are applying. They are also assessing your ability to perform well as a resident and whether or not you will be a good fit for their program.

Here are a few things to keep in mind that will help you ace your residency interview:

Be Communicative, Amiable and Energetic

A large part of your residency interview will focus on the assessment of your interpersonal skills. In addition to evaluating your ability to communicate, the interviewer will also be assessing your demeanour, compassion, enthusiasm and general attitude. The reasons behind giving interpersonal skills so much importance are two-fold. Firstly, being compassionate, dedicated and an effective communicator are essential skills for any physician, regardless of specialty. Secondly, program directors will also give preference to applicants who are more likely to be pleasant to have in their program. You will be spending three to five intensive years in this program so interviewers try to pick candidates who will be a joy to train.

As part of the routine to assess your communication skills, be prepared to answer questions such as, “Describe an interesting case”.

Have A Clear Idea Of The Message You Would Like To Convey During Your Interview

Why is this important? Your interviewer will be the one recommending your application to the residency admissions committee and the only thing they can use to leverage your candidacy is the information that you provide. Sometimes, residency interviewers who have had very little interviewing experience may simply not know the best questions to ask or what information they should obtain. If your interviewer fails to ask you pertinent questions, the information they would have obtained would be limited and their presentations in support of your candidacy may be weak. In your best interests, it is up to you as a residency applicant to take the lead and provide your interviewer with as much information about yourself as possible. Make sure it is relevant information. Convince them about your interest in this particular specialty and what makes you a strong contender for the residency. Volunteer details about the various activities that you have engaged in to explore your interest in that specialty.

Convince The Interviewers About Your Genuine Interest In The Specialty You Are Applying To

Clearly articulate your interest in that specific program. Residency program directors must be convinced that you are genuinely interested in the specialty and you have a clear understanding of what it means to practice in that specialty. They also want to know that you are dedicated and motivated and that you will work hard to become an outstanding physician.

One question that is always asked at every residency interview is, “Why THIS particular specialty?” Your success at the interview hinges on the answer you give. Your reply to this question must be clear and well thought out. Don’t be vague and don’t give a generic response they will be expecting. You know you are going to be asked this question. Before going for the interview, brain storm a bit and prepare a response that is unique and convincing that will not only set you apart from other applicants but will also let your passion for the specialty show through. Support your reply by using examples from your rotations in that specialty to illustrate what you like about it.

Project A Good Image

While you may not be evaluated solely on the way you dress for the interview, it does matter. Interviewers want to make sure you are mature, professional and well-balanced and how you dress can say a lot about these attributes. To be successful at your residency interview, it is equally important to be amiable, speak clearly and articulately, make eye contact with everyone whom you meet and convey confidence but without any hint of arrogance. 

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