Medical student shaking hands after a residency interview

The road from undergrad student to full-fledged doctor is a long one, filled with applications and interviews. When your medical school days are drawing to a close, you need to begin the process of finding a residency program and matching with a program through your ERAS application. Once you’ve submitted the application, you will need to interview with the programs who are interested in accepting you. While your MedMatchPlus+ video profile may have given the program an idea of who you are, the interview goes into depth about your application and medical school experience. To leave a good impression during your residency interview, follow these tips.

First Impressions Count

Although it can be frustrating, the old truism comes into play here: First impressions are everything. Coming off as unprofessional, rude, or standoffish can set the wrong tone for the entire interview. Being professional, friendly, and approachable can go a long way. Be sure to address an interviewer by name, and act confident, even if it’s only on the surface. Dress in a conservative and professional manner, and arrive prepared and on time.

Talk Up Strengths

It can feel uncomfortable to brag about oneself, but focusing on strengths is an important way to stand out. Review your resume and application ahead of time, and be prepared to provide additional details about extracurriculars and special projects you worked on, as well as what skills you learned from them. Don’t be afraid to bring up areas of strength or special skills that the interviewer didn’t specifically ask about.

Don’t Get Blindsided

When it comes to interviews, there are likely to be a few hardballs questions to see if candidates can think on their toes. A residency coordinator may have noticed gaps in your application or places where you did not perform as well as your peers, and they will ask about these things. It’s important to prepare to address any shortcomings with honesty. Don’t become defensive and try to turn the event around to discuss what you learned from your mistake. One of the best residency interview tips is to plan for the worst, so preparing for hardballs is part of the territory.

Stay Engaged

Although qualifications are obviously the majority of what residencies are considering, personality can also mean the difference between the acceptance and rejection pile. Whether or not the residency seems like the perfect fit, it’s important to stay engaged and to treat the interviewer in a professional but amicable manner. No one wants to work with someone with a bad personality, so don’t be afraid to show your unique characteristics.

Interview Them Back!

While making good impressions is important, it’s also important to be attentive and to make sure that a residency is a good fit; don’t be afraid to ask for clarification about any questions or for more information that will help in decision-making down the road. Asking questions is also a great way to show your interest in the program and demonstrate that you have done research ahead of time and are taking this process seriously.

Your interview adds an additional human element to your application and helps the interviewer get a well-rounded picture of who you are, so they can make their decision based on fit instead of just a list of stats. Following these residency interview tips can help you feel more confident going into the interview so you can leave a better impression.

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