The big day, your interview (part 2: interview etiquette/questions)
Saturday, November 4, 2017
Of course, deciding what to wear to your medical school or residency interview is difficult enough. But now… you have to nail the interview! A bangin’ suit won’t get you anywhere if you can’t navigate through all of those questions and awkward social encounters.
Step 1: Be Confident
The first step is presenting yourself with confidence. Smile. Be friendly. Sit up straight. Don’t fuss with your hair or outfit. Small talk is fine, but don’t be too intrusive with other applicants (i.e. what were your test scores, where else have you gotten in, etc- how annoying). Avoid being overly talkative if that’s not you. If you don’t want to talk to anyone because you’re nervous, just smile and nod! It can be obvious when you’re trying too hard. Just be YOU.
Remember that overall, your interviewers are looking for candidates with whom they would enjoy spending long work hours, so your personality needs to mesh with the other students/residents first and foremost.
Step 2: Learn about where you are interviewing
When you walk in those doors, for each interview, know your shit. Take the time to do the research on each school/program, before you get there. When it’s go-time, you should know all about the program. There will always be a discussion about the program statistics- curriculum, extracurriculars, etc. But you should know some of this already, AND you should have questions prepared. I once had an interviewer ask me for a good 20 minutes if I had any other questions. It was pretty much my entire interview. So remember sometimes that you may need to take the lead, and you should be prepared for this.
Step 3: Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. But DON’T memorize your answers
There are tons of example questions out there. Talk to your friends, look on the internet, gather as much information as you can to avoid being thrown off by a wild question. Practice in the mirror, practice with a friend or mentor. Some schools have dedicated practice interviews set up if you choose to go that route. Programs are not technically allowed to ask you about your relationship status, or if you are childbearing (or planning on becoming pregnant soon). I will say however, that sometimes basic personal stuff comes up, not as a direct question, but just in conversation. I don’t think there was a time I didn’t offer up details on my personal life, because it’s something I am passionate about (not the pregnancy plans of course). It is OK to talk about your personal life in conversation, if you feel comfortable. I’m not sure it’s kosher but I also had a lot of people ask me where else I had interviewed and how I liked the programs, so be prepared for that, just in case. I would go minimalist with your answers here. Don’t give too much information about where your first choice is, unless it’s that program, of course. Also, some programs will ask medical questions. This was rare for me, but just be aware it can happen.
Must-know sample interview questions:
Tell me about yourself.
Tell me something that is not listed on your CV.
Why do you want to be a doctor?
What is your greatest weakness?
What is your greatest strength?
Describe yourself in 3 words.
How would your friends describe you?
How do you want to be remembered?
What are your hobbies?
What was your proudest moment in life?
Is there a time in life where you experienced conflict with another individual? What did you do to overcome this?
Who is your hero or mentor?
Why our program? What specifically made you want to interview here?
Why do you want to be a doctor/resident in specialty of your choice?
Describe a difficult case you had, what could you have done better?
What would you say to a coworker that you believe is cutting corners?
How do you deal with a colleague or patient that does not respect you?
If you could choose another career in life, what would you choose?
What will you bring to this program?
How would you deal with someone yelling at you?
What don’t you like about medicine?
What was the last book you read?
If you could be any appliance, which appliance would you be?
If you experienced a fire and could only save three belongings, what would they be?
Do you have any questions?
Tell me a joke.
The key here, you guys, is to not cave under pressure. Interviews are awkward for even the smoothest candidates. Just take a deep breath and answer these questions honestly. I thought about all of these questions in depth before my interviews, and decided on a talking point, but I never arranged my answers prior to the date. I wanted to come across as authentic and well spoken, without being scripted or your typical memorizer (hello, that’s what we are all best at).
Trust me… this gets so much easier over time. You’ll be in training long enough to have a few interviews under your belt! By the time you get to your oral boards exam (if you have one), like me in the photo below, you’ll be all smiles and an expert at those awkward situations and feelings!
Hopefully these tips and tricks will help you succeed on your next interview! If you’re still looking for the perfect outfit you can find some ideas in my previous post on interviews.
Comment below with your experiences and any questions you might have!