Studying SOAP residency interview questions and answers are a great way to prepare for residency interviews held during the Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program during the Match. Chances are, you’ll be applying to programs that were not top of your residency rank order list and they will have tough questions to ask you in return. Learning what you need to know about SOAP, how these residency interviews work and what kind of questions you can expect will be your ticket to good prep. In this blog, we’ll talk about what the SOAP residency interview is, how to prepare for it and some commonly asked questions you can expect, with some example answers.
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What is the SOAP residency interview?
The Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP) of the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) is held immediately after Match Day, and is designed to pair partially matched or unmatched applicants with unfilled training program positions in the US.
For applicants who do not match or don’t match into their top choice of program or specialty, SOAP is an excellent way to find and secure a training position. You will first have to confirm that you are eligible for SOAP, and you will want to improve your residency app if you’ve gone unmatched.
There are many reasons why an applicant might have gone unmatched, but your chances of success in SOAP are greatly enhanced if you take the time to refresh your ERAS application and prep for the SOAP residency interview.
SOAP does conduct interviews, and the SOAP residency interview is conducted much the same way as residency interviews during the match. However, you may be asked some hard to answer questions about your application or your unmatched status, so be ready for some residency interview questions that may surprise you.
Other than a slight variation in the questions you may be asked, you can expect your SOAP residency interview to look much the same as any residency interview. However, the stakes may be higher here if you’ve gone unmatched or need to secure a position, so it may be worth it to invest in some residency interview coaching or tutoring to help you prepare. It could be that your application is strong, but your interview skills weren’t as competitive as other candidates.
Because SOAP is your second chance to nab a residency training position—unless you are waiting to reapply in next year’s match—its imperative that you start preparing. You can start preparing even well before Match Day, even if you think your chances of going matched are good. Some candidates apply to extremely competitive specialties, and they won’t know the outcome of their application until Match Day. By then, SOAP will already be starting, and you’ll have very little time to prepare.
How to prepare for a SOAP residency interview
To prepare for your SOAP residency interview, residency match services can certainly give you some feedback on your application, to help identify gaps and weaknesses, or help you understand what can be improved. It may be that there are red flags in your application that have hindered you, so its best to know how to address these topics in an interview.
Just like the regular match, it’s a good idea to compile a list of potential programs to apply to and do some research on them ahead of time. Knowing how many residency programs to apply to can be a debate, but SOAP allows you to apply to 45 programs in all. For SOAP, apply to as many as possible, even if they are not in your chosen specialty. Once you’ve secured a training position, it will be much easier to switch specialties.
Once you have your list of SOAP programs and unfilled positions available, take a good look at your application to see where you can make improvements or updates. It’s advisable to update your ERAS letters of recommendation or rewrite your personal statement if need be. Or you can add a residency letter of intent to your application to strengthen your candidacy. If you’re an international medical graduate (IMG), it’s a good idea to talk with an IMG residency consultant to discuss your application and your options during SOAP.
10 Commonly Asked SOAP Residency Interview Questions
1. Why did you not match?
I was disappointed not to match into my top choice, however it was a possibility since I applied in a very competitive specialty. I believe there were some weaknesses in my application when compared to other applicants, however I believe my status as an IMG was also a factor, since many of the positions would have been filled by the most competitive domestic applicants.
2. Why should we make you an offer?
I have thoroughly researched your program and I believe I am an excellent fit in terms of my skills and abilities and what your program is seeking in its candidates. Your program seems to value residents who can contribute meaningfully to a well-functioning team but also take initiative and not be afraid to speak up. In my clinical rotations, it was consistently noted how well I engaged with my colleagues and my superiors, and that I was often first to ask questions or offer solutions. This kind of feedback is also noted in my MSPE, which is attached to my application.
3. What differentiates you from other applicants in SOAP?
When compared to other applicants in SOAP, who often have impressive applications even if they have gone unmatched or partially matched, my application may not be as strong and competitive. In my area I did not have access to high-profile premed work or clinical experience and I wasn’t able to afford high-quality tutoring to help me study during school. I differentiate myself by being a self-starter who is ambitious, driven and confident in my own ability and judgment. However, I am also keen to learn and absorb as many lessons as I can during my residency training.
4. How do you see yourself fitting into our program?
I pride myself on being a coachable, flexible and open-minded person, so I know I make an excellent addition to any team. I know I am here to learn and to begin finding my place as a doctor, so I am eager for the opportunity to not only observe but to exercise and prove my clinical skillset.
5. What do you hope to gain from this program?
I hope this program will teach me what it truly means to be a doctor. I have given some thought to my medical specialty and have been considering pursuing a subspecialty, so I hope my experience in this program will help to cement my decision. Most of all I hope this program will enrich my medical training and prepare me to become a practicing physician.
Working on your residency personal statement? Check out these examples.
6. Why did you fail a step?
During my first year of medical school I unfortunately failed one of my courses. I found it to be an especially challenging course, since the subject matter was not my strong suit and required intensive hours of studying, on top of full-time employment. Despite my attempts I was not able to pull my grades up. Fortunately, I was able to retake the course and with the help of a tutor I passed the course on my second attempt. I believe the typical stressors of med school, on top of working full-time and some personal stressors I was experiencing did not help, although working one-on-one with a tutor certainly made a difference for my studying.
7. How can we be sure you’re committed to our specialty, if it wasn’t your first choice?
Although I went unmatched in my top choice of specialty, I applied for this program and this specialty because I knew it was of interest to me and would be another excellent option for my residency training, should I not match into my desired specialty. I believe this specialty will offer me a fantastic opportunity to train in my desired field, since the values and nature of this work is quite similar to my top choice of specialty.
8. What do you consider to be the weak points in your application?
A weak point in my application would be my low USMLE score, which is below the average competitive score of other applicants. I am not a good test taker, and my testing scores reflect this. However I worked diligently with an academic advisor and enrolled in a prep course to achieve the highest possible USMLE score I could. My knowledge of the test subject matter and my ability to demonstrate said knowledge, however, cannot be read from test scores. I believe my exemplary MSPE and strong letters of recommendation prove that my clinical skills speak louder than less than ideal test scores.
9. Why are you now considering our specialty?
After going partially unmatched, I realized I wasn’t a good fit for my top specialty, which had been my focus during the regular match. I decided to explore my other options and fields of interest and began researching programs with unfilled positions. Your program was searching for candidates, and I had previously considered pursuing training in this specialty, so I was intrigued by the option. I compared my application, qualifications, and values to that of your program and concluded this would be an excellent match.
10. What will your next steps be if you go unmatched through SOAP?
If I am not able to find the right fit for me through SOAP, my plan will be to reapply for the match next year. In the meantime, I intend to continue my volunteer work and pursue further training. I have already compiled a list of potential post-graduate training programs to apply for as well as a pre-residency fellowship program.
Looking for more residency interview question examples? Watch this video!
More SOAP Residency Interview Questions
12. Can you explain the gaps in your residency CV?
13. Why did you choose to apply to this program?
14. Tell me about a disagreement you had with a colleague and how you handled it.
15. What are your strengths and weaknesses?
16. How would your colleagues describe you?
17. What interests you about this position?
18. What are your career goals in the next 5 to 10 years?
19. How will you contribute to our program?
20. What is your ideal working environment?
21. Are you interested in research activity?
22. Are you planning on a subspecialty?
23. What are you most proud of?
24. Tell me about a difficult decision you’ve made.
25. What are your interests outside of medicine?
26. Have you held any leadership roles?
27. How do you deal with stress?
28. Why is this program right for you?
29. Tell me about a time you were disappointed in your performance.
30. Do you have any questions for us?
1. What questions do they ask in a SOAP residency interview?
During a SOAP interview you can expect to be asked some harder interview questions, mostly pertaining to why you feel you did not match or why you have chosen a particular program or specialty. You may also be asked to address any gaps in your application. Otherwise, you will be asked some of the usual residency interview questions.
2. Do SOAP residencies use interviews?
Yes. Programs will continue to interview applicants during SOAP and will make offers based on the outcomes of these interviews.
3. How do I prepare for a SOAP residency interview?
To prepare for a SOAP interview, it’s important to check your ERAS messages, emails and voicemail regularly in case a program contacts you for an interview. It’s also a good idea to practice with mock interviews and have answers ready to some common tricky questions.
4. What happens if you don’t match after SOAP?
If you don’t match into a program through SOAP or you are not SOAP eligible, you can reapply next year for the regular NRMP match process.
5. How do SOAP offers work?
SOAP operates by pairing unmatched applicants from the regular NRMP Match with programs that still have unfilled positions. It works exactly like the regular match in that programs will reach out to candidates they wish to interview and then send out their offers.
6. Can I match SOAP in a different specialty?
Yes; even if you are not matched into your desired specialty, you can still find a position in a different specialty through SOAP.
7. What are the chances of matching with SOAP?
The chances of matching through SOAP are fairly good. Every year, many unmatched applicants then find and fill an empty position through SOAP. Around half of SOAP positions are accepted by MD seniors, a quarter are filled by DO seniors and the remaining are taken either by IMGs or remain unfilled.
8. Are SOAP residency interviews harder?
While the residency interviews conducted during SOAP are similar to the regular match residency interviews, you may be asked some tough questions during a SOAP interview, such as questions about why you did not match or to address the gaps in your application.
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