You’re tired, exhausted, spent; you don’t want to write another personal statement ever again, especially since ERAS personal statement requirements are different from requirements, which means you have to write a completely new one. We get it. At this point in your journey, you already know things like , and whether you want to enter a or an , but maybe your skills have been dulled by writing countless patient histories and physicals, which do not lend themselves to writing a personal statement (but they can, also). If that is the case, we can help you sharpen your writing skills, and give you strategies to mine your past and personal experiences that will make you a memorable candidate. This blog will provide a step-by-step guide to master your ERAS personal statement, regardless of the specialty you are going into and hopefully get you in on your first try.
Learning How to Write, Again
You are unique, but so is everyone else. That’s the challenge of getting into any professional program, whether medical school, a residency, law school or an MBA, how do you stand out from all these other unique individuals who have also graduated medical school and are now your competition?
What are the most competitive and least competitive residencies? Find out in this video:
The answer is simple – your personal statement.
Your personal statement is a safe space for you to get out anything that motivates you, inspires you, troubles you, makes you scared, makes you angry, or gives you strength. But neither is it a confessional. If you talk about all those things, you have to talk about how you made those emotions real through your actions.
Your residency personal statement can be an outlet for all the things you experienced during school or clinical rotations that you made a mental note of but didn’t know how or where to express it.
The first time you heard a patient cry out in pain.
The first time you saw a baby born.
The first time you felt a pulse stop.
How did all that make you feel? How did you react? How did it change you?
These are the things that all residency program directors want to know (but, not only).
A great personal statement should cover the future, as well as the past.
What will this residency program add to who you are, as a future physician, researcher, and overall person? And vice-versa, what will you add to it, and how?
These are also important questions to answer.
We don’t have to tell you how important a personal statement is; that fact has been drilled into you since you applied to medical school. You want to make a great first impression with your personal statement as it directly addressed to the residency program directors.
But, let’s be real. The best residency personal statement will not save an application that is poor or below average in other areas, such as having too low a GPA, too many failed courses, or lack of experiences.
Still, many residency programs do review applications holistically, meaning they look at all the aspects of your application, not just the metrics. So, what you need to know is how to be creative, how to develop a voice and style that is unlike any other.
Of course, this is not easy. It can take years of practice and writing to develop an unmistakeable and uncanny writing style.
But, hopefully, by the end of this article you will have discovered the following:
- Learn how to write the why (you know why you want to enter this program, but how do you say it)
- The differences between average writing and great writing
- How to incorporate experiences, important events, emotions, people and other perspectives into your writing
Before we get to helping you find your voice, the ERAS system has a few requirements that you should know, which can help you format and structure your statement so you don’t go over the word length or use the wrong format. Word and page limits can seem daunting, like walls closing in on you.
But they can actually be quite useful. Knowing you can only use a certain number of words should help you during the editing process, where the word limit will make you less afraid to remove words, sentences and paragraphs that you don’t need. But keep whatever you take out and use it in your interview or supplemental essays, if the program requires them.
The length of an ERAS personal statement is generally one page. In words, that’s about 500-600 words. The other format requirements include:
- Write your statement in plain text in either Notepad (for Windows) or Text Edit (for Apple)
- Write your statement directly into the online dialog box
These are all the technical ERAS personal statement requirements you need to know. But one thing we need to make clear, before we get to anything, is to give yourself a lot of time. You should start following these steps at least six months before you actually have to submit your application; taking into account all your rough drafts, rewrites, editing, asking for advice and letting others read your statement.
Now, let’s focus on how to start your personal statement, which can involve many different steps and strategies.
Finding Your Voice
You’re a smart, accomplished medical school graduate. We don’t have to explain what the is or how important it is, because you know all that. However, after years of working with hundreds of residency candidates like you, who we helped get into their programs, we know a thing or two about writing , and writing, in general.
And the first thing we want to say about writing an ERAS personal statement is:
Take the pressure off.
Think of writing your statement as seeing a friend or visiting a relative you haven’t seen in a long time. It’s an opportunity. You can finally say all the things you’ve bottled up inside or internalized from the four amazing and chaotic years you just had (longer, if you’re a or took a ).
The pressure you and everyone else puts on you leads to panic and desperation. It leads to rushed, uninteresting, forgettable statements. It leads to cliches (I’ve always wanted to be a doctor because I want to help people). You don’t want that. The people reading your statement don’t want that.
How do you take the pressure off?
Feel proud of all you’ve accomplished up to this point. You’ve done a lot! Look at your diploma, or a research project you participated in. Look over your old medical school personal statements and see how you have changed, and what is different about you now.
Let that give you the confidence you need to write confidently about all you’ve accomplished and all you still want to accomplish. But everything in moderation. Seeming arrogant or boastful is not good either.
Then, think about your failures. Pour water on all those cocky impulses by remembering when you completely failed your first block of exams or how an anatomy class left you in a haze of details you couldn’t remember.
This is you creating a voice. The good and bad. Complex, and interesting.
Working on your ERAS letter of recommendation?
After you’ve relaxed, and gotten into the right mindset, start thinking about what you want to write.
There are a few basics you should cover in your statement, such as:
- Why this program?
- Why this specialty?
- What makes you special, as a person, future resident, and physician?
- What have you done to show your commitment to medicine, or this specialty?
- Why medicine?
But here we return to the how. You know why you want to enter this residency (good reputation, expert faculty, etc.) but the trick is saying it in a meaningful and substantive way.
And here opinions differ.
Some suggest stating your reasons for wanting to enter the program right away in the opening or the second paragraph. But that method runs the risk of turning the rest of the statement into a recitation of your CV:
I want to join this residency because of this....
And here’s why...
We recommend beginning with a bit of your background first.
Talk about who you are (background; family); important moments in your life that made you choose medicine. Then talk about your progress; things you’ve learned (academically or personally) that have changed you; things that have influenced you to follow this branch of medicine, whether it be people, a class you took, a book, film, piece of music, or article you read.
Keep going forward in time until you reach the last few paragraphs where you tie everything together and state clearly and plainly why you are interested in this program, and what you would give to the program.
To recap, and this is optional, you can choose to use another outline:
- Something interesting about yourself (opening)
- Why medicine, or an “inciting incident” that made you choose medicine (second paragraph)
- Show what you did because your specialty excites you or makes you curious
- Talk about how the program reflects your interests, and how you connect to its mission
Then, start writing. Write anything and write often. Write. Every. Day.
Don’t fall into the trap of “waiting for inspiration” or “not feeling it today”. You have to sit down and spend all those uncomfortable hours in front of a blank page to write something great.
It’s good practice to help you develop a rhythm, style, and, discipline.
If you’re not sure what to write about, write about your firsts (first day of medical school, first biochemistry class, first interaction with a patient, etc.) When writing use active voice in the beginning and short sentences (here is where writing histories and note-taking will help you).
If you have a memory or first in mind, establish other details.
Where was it? Who was it with? What did it involve? What did you do?
Give the reader details that you remember and try to be as accurate as possible.
The more detail you include gives your readers insight into what you remember or think of as important (sounds, smells, colors) and that most importantly, you pay attention to detail; something extremely important in medicine.
And, at this point, don’t worry about word or page lengths.
Those don’t matter now. You can cut it all later. In fact, write more than the page or word count to give yourself a lot of material and then cut down later. The same way directors shoot hours and hours of film, only to whittle it all down to a few seconds.
With all this in mind, we’ll do something a little different. We’ll write a poor opening paragraph so you can compare your writing to something objectively bad.
We’ll provide the details like setting, people, and a short example to show what we mean.
Name: Alice Pimental
Education: Rutgers New Jersey School of Medicine
Residency Program: Pediatrics Residency at NYU Grossman
Alice’s interests in pediatrics stem from her younger brother’s childhood diabetes, which has followed him into adulthood. As Alice and her family became aware of how expensive insulin is, it inspired her to organize a group of families to lobby Congress and the FDA to lower insulin costs. She’s interested in NYU Grossman because of its pioneering curriculum, extensive network of teaching hospitals and clinical affiliates and the opportunity to live and work in New York City.
ERAS Personal Statement Example Opening (Do not write like this)
I’ve always wanted to live in New York City, and I would love to be admitted to the NYU Grossman School of Medicine because it would give me the opportunity to live in the Big Apple. I think my fascination with New York City started at a very early age, when I first saw “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”; all the beautiful clothes that Audrey Hepburn wore made me think of how glamourous and luxurious everyone and everything is in New York.
This is as painful to read as it was to write.
Even though Alice has an interesting backstory and direct involvement in improving the lives of others, she chose to talk about things completely unrelated to the residency program. If you write about what a program can give to you, mention substantial things such as the educational or research opportunities. Talk about the faculty and the research projects being done within the program and its current residents.
However, if you are excited about the setting or location of a program, mention it briefly. In fact, all the current residents at the Pediatrics Residency Program at NYU Grossman have their favorite spot in New York listed along with their contact info and medical school on the program’s website. But don’t waste an entire paragraph like Alice talking about how much you love the city or setting, unless it has a direct connection to what you want to research, and even then, use a sentence or two, no more.
ERAS Personal Statement Example Opening
My younger brother’s diabetes diagnosis was my unofficial introduction into pediatrics. I was the one that had to take care of him. I was the one that had to inject him and show him how to inject himself, if necessary. I was the one who had to make sure that he stuck to his diet. I was the one that had to make sure we always had orange juice or other sugary foods in our house, just in case. But I loved every minute of it. I felt good taking the burden off my parents who were busy at their respective jobs; my father, a construction worker; my mother, a hairdresser.
Here, Alice uses a good opening, dropping the reader directly into an important event in her and her family’s life – her brother’s diabetes diagnosis. She uses active voice and short sentences. Her narrative progresses by describing all the things she did to help her brother and parents, not just dwelling on the fact her brother has diabetes. She also introduces things about her background – her family members; her parents’ occupations.
What’s more, she can go anywhere narratively in the following paragraphs. Alice can use the outline above to talk further about why she went into medicine, but she’s already established that. Instead, she could talk more about how her brother’s condition inspired her to do other things, such as organizing a group of families affected by diabetes to raise awareness about the high price of insulin.
As my brother grew into adulthood, though, and was more adept at taking care of himself, I started to wonder what else I could do to help people like him. I did some research online and found that one of the most pressing issues facing diabetics in this country is limited access to cheap insulin. When I researched further, and discovered that insulin is much cheaper in other countries for a variety of reasons, I knew I had to act.
But this can be cut down.
As my brother grew into adulthood, though, and was more adept at taking care of himself, I started to wonder what else I could do to help people with diabetes. I did some research online and found that one of the most pressing issues facing diabetics in this country is limited access to cheap insulin. When I researched further, and discovered that insulin is much cheaper in other countries for a variety of reasons. Learning that made me feel like I had to do something.
We took out about a sentence but still kept the narrative flow and made the paragraph even more concise. But, now, as we’ve covered the opening, we can talk about how to write the rest of your statement.
The body of your statement is next. Referring to the questions above, it is in the body of your statement where you show, don’t tell. Just as Alice was about to mention her work organizing people to lobby Congress, in the middle of your statement is where can talk about a singular achievement, experience, person, event that put you on the path to this residency program. Since you have word limits, you usually want to talk about only one experience; you can mention other experiences in other statements you write to other programs or .
But basically, you want the middle of your statement to be where you demonstrate how you’ve lived up to the ideals of the program you are entering; whether it was through opening a new line of investigation in a field of research. But don’t be lulled into thinking you have to mention something academic, scientific or related to medical science. You can talk about something personal that moved you – for example, in Alice’s case, it could be something like this:
I created an impromptu Facebook group of families living with diabetes, and we started sharing what we all did to get cheaper insulin. Some people went all the way to Mexico, or Canada to get cheaper insulin. And some, unfortunately, choose not to get their medication because they simply couldn’t afford it. With the support of my group, I contacted my Representative in Congress and asked what I could do to bring attention to this issue at the federal level.
She told me that the Senate committee that oversees the pharmaceutical industry was meeting so and that I should attend with my group. We all went to Washington, and it was during a break in one of the sessions when I started a conversation with a prominent endocrinologist, Dr. Sarah Capito. When I told her I was in medical school, she asked where I was going to do my residency. I told her I hadn’t decided yet, and she suggested NYU Grossman, if I was passionate about pediatric diabetes and endocrinology.
But we can cut this down.
I created an impromptu Facebook group of families living with diabetes, and we started sharing thinking about what we could do to get cheaper insulin. what we all did to get cheaper insulin. Some people went all the way to Mexico, or Canada to get cheaper insulin. And some, unfortunately, choose not to get their medication because they simply couldn’t afford it. With the support of my group,. To cover all my bases, I contacted my Representative in Congress and asked what I could do to bring attention to this issue at the federal level.
She told me that the Senate committee that oversees the pharmaceutical industry was meeting soon and that I should attend with my group. We all went to Washington, an In Washington, during a break in the session, I started a conversation with a woman who I later realized was a prominent endocrinologist, Dr. Sarah Capito. When I told her I was in medical school. During our conversation, she asked where I was going to do my residency. I told her I hadn’t decided yet, and she suggested NYU Grossman, if I was passionate about pediatric diabetes, endocrinology, and drug policy.
Of course, you won’t have this same exact experience. We are using this example to illustrate that it is better to show than to tell what you did, but your example could be something much smaller, but still, significant. Pull from anything you still remember vividly, preferably from your recent past, not from when you were a teenager or undergraduate.
Once you feel like you have relayed your passion and dedication to your specialty, then, you need to connect that passion to the program you are applying to. In Alice’s example, a single individual got her interested in NYU, but the final paragraphs should reveal what Alice has discovered on her own about the program, and what about it ultimately appeals to her.
You need to do the same. Research the program inside and out and take notes while you are researching. Jot down all the interesting facts and lines of research current residents are involved in or past residents did. At the end is where you also want to demonstrate a very important quality: humility.
Yes, you’ve accomplished a lot. You finished medical school and, in Alice’s case, you’ve shown your commitment to your field and improving lives, but you also want to talk about what you want to do after you finish your residency. What’s next? And here you can talk about what you still want to investigate, or how you plan to take an interdisciplinary approach to investigate something that interests you, or describe how you see yourself as a future physician.
Let’s use Alice’s case:
NYU Grossman was not on my radar, but when Dr. Capito mentioned it, I became intrigued. I researched the program and found out that Dr. Capito was right, NYU Grossman hosts one of the best diabetes research programs in the country. Not only that, but research and instruction in performed at each of the medical school’s various branches throughout New York City, and the thought of living in New York City, while following my interests to investigate how to revise the diagnostic criteria for juvenile diabetes, which does not take into account the rapid rise in childhood obesity that took place after these criteria was established, and what role socio-economic factors play into children developing diabetes, is something that appeals to me.
But let’s cut it down:
NYU Grossman was not on my radar, but when Dr. Capito mentioned it, I became intrigued. I researched the program and found out that Dr. Capito was right. I was delighted to read that NYU Grossman hosts one of the best diabetes research programs in the country. Not only that, but research and instruction is performed at each of the medical school’s various branches throughout New York City, which is something that would aid my research in determining the socio-economic factors that play into children developing diabetes.
And then, for the finish:
No one in my family thought my brother would ever develop diabetes, and even though I was prepared to shoulder the burden for him and my parents, I want to discover ways to prevent diabetes in young children so it does not become a burden to anyone. I would like to improve diagnostic and management protocols to identify risk factors and ultimately reduce the number of children diagnosed with diabetes each year. By combining my personal experiences with my passion for research, I am confident that I will be at the forefront of advancing pediatric endocrinology and making significant contributions to the field.
Alice’s full, revised ERAS personal statement:
My younger brother’s diabetes diagnosis was my unofficial introduction into pediatrics. I was the one that had to take care of him. I was the one that had to inject him with insulin and show him how to inject himself, if necessary. I was the one who had to make sure that he stuck to his diet. I was the one that had to make sure we always had orange juice or other sugary foods in our house, just in case.
But I loved every minute of it. I felt good taking the burden off my parents who were busy at their respective jobs; my father, a construction worker; my mother, a hairdresser. However, as my brother and I grew into adulthood, he became more adept at taking care of himself, and I had already decided on a career in medicine. But when I was in medical school, I started to wonder what else I could do to help people with diabetes.
I did some research online and discovered that insulin is much cheaper in other countries for a variety of reasons. I learned that the exorbitant cost of insulin forces some diabetics to forego this life-saving medicine. Learning that made me feel like I had to do something. I created an impromptu Facebook group of families living with diabetes, and we started thinking about what we could do to get cheaper insulin.
To cover all my bases, I contacted my Representative in Congress and asked what I could do to bring attention to this issue at the federal and regulatory level. She told me that the Senate committee that oversees the pharmaceutical industry was meeting soon and that I should attend with my group to voice my concerns. In Washington, during a break in the session, I started a conversation with a woman who I later realized was an endocrinologist, Dr. Sarah Capito.
During our conversation, she asked where I was going to do my residency. I told her I hadn’t decided yet, and she suggested NYU Grossman, if I was passionate about pediatric diabetes, endocrinology, and drug policy. NYU Grossman was not on my radar, but when Dr. Capito mentioned it, I became intrigued.
I was delighted to read that NYU Grossman hosts both a top-notch pediatrics program but also one of the best diabetes research programs in the country. Not only that, but research and instruction are done at each of the medical school’s various branches throughout New York City, which is something that would aid my research in determining the socio-economic factors that play into children developing diabetes.
I want to ultimately combine my interest in pediatrics with endocrinology to discover ways to prevent diabetes in young children. I would like to improve diagnostic and management protocols to identify risk factors and ultimately reduce the number of children diagnosed with diabetes each year. I feel that by combining my personal experiences with my passion for research, I am confident that I will be at the forefront of advancing pediatric endocrinology and making significant contributions to the field.
Total Word Count: 504
Total Characters (no spaces): 2,374
This example covers all the things that we talked about as essential in an ERAS personal statement:
- A revealing opening
- An inciting incident, although we introduced it in the opening
- Showing, not telling
- Explaining why you are interested in your field
- Connecting your mission and skills with the program’s mission
But let’s write another applicant profile, and use the same formula to write about another program and candidate.
Name: Whitney Cardillo
Education: University of Maryland, School of Medicine
Residency Program: Social Pediatrics Residency Program, Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx
Whitney’s final years of medical school were marked by the pandemic. She, along with many of her colleagues, were among the thousands of medical school students who took part in mass vaccination campaigns to combat the virus. But after the pandemic subsided, Whitney realized that there was still much to learn not only about the virus, but particularly about the long-term effects the pandemic is having on children, especially those who lost loved ones. Her ultimate interest lies in finding and eliminating the barriers these children experience when trying to access care, and support, which has led her to one of the in the US.
With every jab I gave, I thought I was saving a life, but all that pride and self-satisfaction came crashing down when I met Zachary. A strong opening that gives a select number of details and gives us a narrative goalpost to work towards (who is Zachary?), pushing the narrative forward. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, I, along with my fellow students actively participated in vaccine administration. This work gave me a sense of purpose and fulfillment; I think that every medical student secretly dreams of the first time they get to save someone’s life, directly or indirectly, and I thought that’s what I was doing every day. This is also a good setup, in that Whitney describes herself as being fulfilled by the work, even though the opening alludes to her losing all this fulfillment, which interests the reader (what happened to make her lose this pride?).
It was long, hard work, and when the pandemic abated, I went back to medical school thinking I had done so much. I was entering my clinical phase and was about to start rotations. A few weeks into my pediatrics rotations, I saw a young patient, Zachary, a young boy grappling with the loss of his father to COVID-19. In our conversations, Zachary shared how this tragic event had caused him to lose interest in school and doubt his dreams of becoming a doctor, as his father had once encouraged him to pursue.
In speaking with Zachary and his mother, I felt ashamed. I felt ashamed that I had thought myself a saver of lives, even though, to quote T.S. Eliot, death had undone so many. Emotion. Show emotion. Talk about emotions. In this example, it would be strange and unsettling not to talk about your personal feelings when hearing a story like Zachary’s. Do not be afraid to talk about uncomfortable things and how you learned from them. I struggled to find the words to comfort this young boy, who was struggling with so much more than I had ever experienced in my life. Again, humility is something that reaches program directors more than boasting and listing all your accomplishments. The attending physician took over and referred Zachary and his mother to grief counseling, but I came away feeling like a fraud.
After meeting Zachary, I decided to investigate more about how children have been affected by the pandemic. The more I discovered, I realized that more needed to be done to help the hundreds of thousands of children who have lost either a parent or primary caregiver to the virus. Only a few states have started programs to address this issue, but I feel someone from the medical community could be doing more to get other states to fund educational opportunities such as scholarships that would help kids like Zachary attain their dreams. We talked a lot about showing, not telling, but in this situation, you can also talk about what you want to achieve, instead of focusing on your past accomplishments. By all means, if you have an example you want to share, then use it. But know that the options exist for you to talk about something lacking, something missing that you feel you could
The end of the emergency has given way to complacency and indifference to these children, but I want to continue banging the drum slowly until the resources and research are able to provide comfort and solace, but also tangible benefits. That’s why the Social Pediatrics Residency program at Montefiore excites me.
It goes beyond the traditional view of doctors as solely medical professionals and adds a vociferous, caring component of also being an advocate. When I first met Zachary, he undid all the knowledge I had and reduced me to someone who realized I had much more to learn. Humility.
And, I feel the only way to honor the contribution he made to my professional and personal development is to learn alongside the dedicated professionals and doctors who created this program. I feel like they also believe they have a role to play not only in caring for children, but advocating for them as well.
Word Count: 458 words
Characters (no spaces): 2136
- Don’t put any more pressure on yourself than you already feel; approach writing your statement calmly, and confident that you have the knowledge, experience, and writing skills to write a great statement.
- Start as early as possible thinking about what you want to write about; write multiple drafts and let others read your work; but don’t let anyone write your statement for you.
- Develop your writing skills by writing every day; make it a part of your routine; even a page or a few paragraphs is enough to make you feel like you did something.
- For content, think about all your past experiences in medical school; think about things that made you feel real emotion (anger, shame, fear, joy) and focus on the details about that experience (who was involved? What happened? When did it happen? And, most importantly, how did it change you?)
- Don’t use cliches; be original.
- Put everything in context; or, put another way, make everything connect; don’t dwell on irrelevant details; mention the specific event, person, or experience and keep moving forward.
There aren’t many ERAS personal statement requirements for you to follow, but the point of writing your residency personal statement is explaining in rich, and concise detail, why you are interested in this specialty, program, and how you have prepared for it. You should write your statement relaxed and think of it in the same way you would an interview. Write as many drafts as possible and continue editing until you have a tight, coherent story.
1. Do I have to write an ERAS personal statement?
Yes, but technically you are writing the personal statement for the residency program, it is only being uploaded to ERAS as part of your residency application, similar how you are asked to upload an , but it has nothing to do with the service itself. But all residency programs ask for a personal statement, or letter of intent, in some cases, and you have to submit one.
2. How long should my ERAS personal statement be?
The program you are applying to may have specific format or length requirements. Check with them to be sure, but if none is listed, try to aim for a maximum of 500 words or less.
3. What should I talk about in my ERAS personal statement?
You can talk about a lot of things in your ERAS personal statement, but you should focus on why you want to pursue your specialty, , why you want to train at this particular program, and what has influenced your decision to pursue both. You should focus on the time you spent at medical school and not go too deep into your past, unless its relevant to your choice of residency. Use your emotions, and experiences as stepping stones to talk about the actions you took to be an ideal residency candidate.
4. What are some residency personal statement mistakes to avoid?
Do not recite your or ; do not disparage or speak ill of other specialties or programs; do not boast or be arrogant. Do not use unprofessional language. Do not talk in length about your past. Do not dwell on these events, but use them to move your narrative forward to a logical conclusion.
5. Does an ERAS personal statement matter?
Yes, it matters a lot. With that said, if your application is lackluster in other areas, a great personal statement may not (or may, you never know) won’t make much of a difference to the residency directors. However, if your application is otherwise stellar, a poorly-written personal statement can sink your chances.
6. How many ERAS personal statements do I have to write?
You should write a different personal statement for each program you apply to. Yes, that seems like a lot of work, but putting in the work to create new statements show dedication and passion and helps you improve your writing skills overall.
7. Should I use AI to write my ERAS personal statement?
No. If you think AI can help you write a residency statement, try using it and see what comes out. AI can only write according to the parameters you introduce. It does not have memories, experiences, and emotions. The best AI can give you is a generic, uninteresting blob of words that lacks the humanity all residency directors are looking for. The time and effort you put into humanizing an AI-generated statement could instead be put into writing it yourself, with a much better result.
8. What are ERAS personal statement requirements?
There are no set requirements other than typing your personal statement in plain text so you can transfer it to the online dialog box on the ERAS application. The format and content requirements are set by the program you want to enter, but they often center around questions such as, “” and similar questions about your goals and intentions.