Tips for Preparing for Residency Interviews
As many fourth-year DO students begin their residency interviews, the NBOME spoke to a few program directors and DO residents for some tips on how to prepare for your interview.
|Maria Jones, DO
||Ronak Mistry, DO
|Peter Moffett, MD
||David Kuo, DO
|PGY-3 Emergency Medicine/
||Emergency Medicine Residency Program Director
||Associate Dean of Graduate Medical Education
|ChristianaCare Health System
||Vanderbilt University Medical Center
||Virginia Commonwealth University Medical Center
||Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine
||NBOME Board Member
How did you prepare for your interviews?
Ronak Mistry, DO: Before the interview, be sure to spend some time defining your vision for your future career. This can always change (and in many cases, it will!), but the important thing is that you want to show that you have thought about this. To the program, this is important, because they want to ensure that you will be successful in achieving your goals.
Make sure that you practice this “sales pitch” out loud so that you’re able to convey your thoughts eloquently and succinctly. In addition, before each interview, be sure to do your research on the program, jotting down notes and potential questions based on what you read. This will also show the program that you are interested in them, just as they are interested in you.
(Mistry talks more about his Fellowship in this blog post from 2021.)
Maria Jones, DO: The way I see it, there are two parts to preparing for interviews: preparation in general for interviews and preparation for specific programs. For general preparation, I used a program that analyzed my speech cadence, eye contact, and word flow while answering practice general residency interview questions. It helped me identify areas where I could improve when speaking on Zoom. I also participated in several mock interviews, and prepared answers to frequently asked questions such as “Tell me about yourself,” “Why do you want to practice this specialty?” “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” and the less common but still occasionally asked, “Explain more to me about being a DO.”
For the specific interview, I reviewed the program’s website and pre-interview material and also looked at their social media to get a feeling for the program and prepare a list of questions for the upcoming interview. If I knew any of the current residents, I would reach out to them. I also found resources such as FREIDA helpful when gathering information like shift length, academic experiences, research opportunities, and board scores/acceptance rates.
Do you think COMLEX helped prepare you for residency? If so, how?
MJ: The knowledge required to successfully take COMLEX gave me a strong medical foundation when I entered residency. Preparing for Level 3 during my intern year also allowed me to expand upon my continually growing medical knowledge base and feel more prepared to care for my patients. It also instilled in me the work/study balance required as a resident to research the most up-to-date clinical practices and guidelines while also managing patient care.
What advice would you give those who are about to start their interviews?
MJ: Be yourself! If you’ve got an interview, that means the program likes you on paper and wants to get to know the “you” behind the application. Be proud of your accomplishments and for being this far along in the process. You’ve worked hard to get here, so just show off who you truly are and enjoy! And remember, you’re interviewing the programs, too, to see if they are a good fit for you, as much as they are interviewing to see if you’re a good fit for them.
RM: The most important thing to remember now that you have secured your interview is that the program believes that based on your application, you would be successful in their program. The interview is your chance to showcase who you are beyond what is written down on paper. The most important thing, though, is to be yourself!
What do you typically look for in a resident?
Peter Moffett, MD: Professionalism. It encompasses teamwork, communication, and appropriate behaviors, and particularly in medicine it includes service to others. The professional resident comes to work ready to take care of patients and work as a collaborative team to rally our healthcare system around those in need. They communicate well with members of that team even when communication is difficult. In high-stress environments, the professional resident recognizes their limitations and the limitations of others and works to continue to foster group communication.
David Kuo, DO: Personality and fit are the most important to me because we have to live together for the next 3 years and I want to make sure we get along. We can teach medicine, but we can’t teach personality and work ethic.
What role does a candidate’s social media presence play in these interviews?
PM: One of the hardest things for new physicians to understand is that the world is always watching them. Potential patients and past patients will find physicians on social media, or see them in public and watch their behaviors. It seems unfair that physicians are judged differently than others, but patients want to see their physicians acting a specific way–even off work. Avoid overt actions that could open you to public scrutiny, and keep social media private to just friends.
DK: It goes back to professionalism. During the actual interview day, the program is watching how you treat others. This includes the other candidates and the staff that greets you and schedules you. Many programs also check your social media presence. Therefore you always want to treat people with respect and dignity both online and in real life, because if you don’t the program director will hear about it and there could be consequences.
What do you wish candidates understood about the interview process?
DK: Because you got an interview, that means you are qualified on paper to be a member of their program. The purpose of the interview is for them to see your personality and how you think/act. Show them by answering the questions thoughtfully and articulately. Also, they are trying to impress you! Ask questions you think are important for your training.
As Match season continues, continue to check Navigating GME for more tips and advice from fellow DO students, residents, and residency program directors on the transition to GME, Match Day, and our advocacy efforts for parity for DO students in the residency application process.