A Curated Collection of Interview Questions

During my fourth year I asked my peers to submit questions they received on the interview trail. Some (most) were banal. Some were bizarre.

Doing my best to keep the list short and readable, here are some results.

Overall, the take home message is this: if you have a bad experience on interview day—when both you and the program are putting your best face forward—maybe that says something about the likelihood of a good residency experience.

Single most painfully common question on the trail:

  • What questions do you have for me?

Every single time:

  • What’s your story?
  • Tell me about yourself
  • What kind of things do you like to do for fun?
  • Tell me about [random thing on your CV]
  • Ten years from now, what do you see yourself doing?
  • How did you become interested in medicine?
  • When and how did you decide to become a [blank]
  • What are you looking forward to the most in residency? The least?
  • What was your most memorable patient? (yes, what; not who)
  • Why this program?
  • What are you looking for in a program (cue list of program’s description)
  • What fellowship do you want to do?

Brain-busters (time for some BS):

  • What has been your biggest disappointment in medicine?
  • How do you think the changes in health care policy will affect you in the future?
  • Describe a disappointing event in your life and how you coped with it?
  • What did you find hard during medical school?
  • What would you say is your greatest strength? Weakness?
  • Tell me about a time when you made a choice that ended with a good result.
  • Tell me about a time when you made a choice that ended with a bad result.
  • What accomplishment are you most proud of that’s non-academic?
  • When you look back at your career, how will you be able to tell if you were successful?
  • What person have you met in medical school who has inspired you?
  • What do you want me to know about you that didn’t fit in your application?
  • Tell me about a situation in which you have had to work with someone you didn’t like. How did you handle it?
  • Tell me about an ethical dilemma you experienced as medical student.
  • What do you think we should look for in our applicants? (I think this is actually a really good question)
  • Tell me about your best and worst residents.
  • What do you think is the biggest health issue in America today?
  • What do you want me to remember about you at the end of this interview?
  • How would your best friend describe you?
  • Describe your ideal day.
  • Tell me about a time someone on your team was not pulling their own weight?
  • If you were chief resident on a service and one of your interns forgot to or just didn’t place an order which compromised patient care, how would you handle the situation with the faculty who expects the order to be completed, and how would you address the intern?

Extremely narrow:

  • If you could have dinner with any 3 cardiothoracic surgeons, dead or alive, who would they be and what are their greatest contributions to the field?
  • How do you know that you have the hand skills to be a good surgeon?
  • Ortho trauma is a very busy service. How are you sure you can handle it?
  • Who is Brad Aust?

Awkward or obnoxious or both:

  • What is your class rank?
  • Tell me about medicine in your country.
  • What is something unique about you that will help me remember you amongst the other applicants?
  • Can you explain any small problems on your application that could bring you down on our rank list so that I can explain it to the committee?
  • Tell me your impression of this program
  • Are you ready to move away from [X]? (clearly entertaining the idea…)
  • What is one thing you do not like about this city based on what you know? (city was not Baltimore, haters)
  • What are the CXR findings in heart failure?
  • Tell me you how you work up a GI bleeder
  • Describe the technique for putting in an arterial line.
  • Tell me how you would work someone up for chest pain.
  • A colectomy patient becomes tachycardic the night after the operation. All other vitals are normal. What is your immediate workup and differential?
  • You are interested in [X] research. We don’t have any active projects like that. What are your research plans if you come here?
  • What do you plan to do with your MPH? (nothing of course, I just like collecting degrees!)

Unapologetic Match Violations:

  • Where are you going to rank us?
  • Tell me what you thought about program X.
  • You did an away rotation at X school. Where do you feel you fit in better, here or there, and why?
  • Would you really come here?
  • Which other places have you interviewed at or are you going to?

Oddest set (came from PM&R, by the way, not psychiatry):

  • Who do you like better; Tigger or Eeyore?
  • Would you say Eeyore is happy?
  • Would Eeyore say he is happy himself?

The AAMC has their list of 40 frequently asked questions, which feels about right.

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