The big day is approaching and even though you’ve read everything about how to prepare for a residency interview and read over all the most common residency interview questions, you’re still nervous. That’s OK! It’s normal to be nervous before a big interview. Think back to your medical school interview, where you were also nervous, but prepared. That interview sealed your entry into medical school and this one will put you on the path to passing your USMLE Step 3 in the US or the MCCQE Step 2 in Canada to become a licensed, practicing doctor. If you still feel nervous, then this article will take you through every step of preparing for your residency interview, from when you first receive your interview invitation to afterward, when you are drafting a “thank you” letter to thank your interviewers.

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Article Contents
26 min read

The Invitation(s) The Interview Format Start Preparing Before You Apply Read and Deconstruct the Mission Statement Get to Know the Faculty Know the Location Anticipating Interview Questions Practicing the Interview A Few Days Before the Interview Days Before the Interview The Day Before your Interview Interview Day FAQs

The Invitation(s)

After weeks of waiting, the email you’ve been waiting for has finally arrived. And it’s good news! You’ve been selected for an interview, maybe, even, a few. What now?

Well, it depends on the program.

Want to know the most competitive and least competitive residencies? Watch this video:

Some will email. Some will send you a link to a virtual calendar where you can pick a date and time, eliminating the need to write to them directly. But if someone has taken the time to write you, you can respond with something like:

Dear Office of Admissions at (name of school or program),

Thank you for your email. I am delighted by the opportunity to interview with your program and I accept your invitation. Please let me know how I can facilitate the scheduling of my interview or if there is anything else that you need from me.

I look forward to your reply and thank you again for the news.


Write back as soon as possible, even the same day you receive the email saying that you accept the invitation. This is important because your program will give you vital information that can help you prepare. Is the interview in-person (necessitating travel, accommodation, etc.) or virtual (which does not necessitate travel or accommodation)? Will the interview be one-on-one or MMI or a hybrid?

Writing back promptly also shows you are attentive and well-prepared. It’s also courteous because the program(s) you applied to may have sent out various invitations and they need to schedule them all accordingly.

The Interview Format

If you respond quickly, you’ll also learn more about this program’s interview format, and whether they use standard, one-on-one or panel interviews, or MMI, and other situational-judgement tests, such as CASPer or the AAMC PREview, to judge your non-cognitive abilities. You need to know this to prepare because the preparation for an MMI interview is different from a traditional, one-on-one, or panel interview.

The use of MMI and other assessment tests is uneven. Not all medical schools or residency programs use them, and they usually tell you when talking about their entry requirements. For example, the University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine does not administer any assessment test for Canadian medical graduates, but it does for international medical graduates. UBC has its own assessment, the Clinical Assessment Program (CAP), which is similar to MMI.

So, in the likelihood that your program does MMI or any SJT, we’ll prepare some sample questions and answers that we have used to train other residency applicants, when we get to the interview section.

Start Preparing Before You Apply

So, you’ve received your invitation; responded promptly, and have scheduled a time and date. Now, you prepare.

Fortunately, you’ve been preparing for your residency interview since you started researching programs to put on your rank order list. This is good preparation because it helped you decide which programs are a good fit for you based on any number of factors:

  • Location
  • Faculty
  • Research fields
  • Fellowship or post-doctoral opportunities

If you did this preliminary research, then you have a good idea of what exactly this program means to you, but now you have to articulate it during your interview. We’ll get to the actual interview and interview day a little later, but, for now, review all the research you did to determine which residency program you wanted to enter.

Then, write down all the things that attract you, so you can remember them. You can rank your list from the things most important to least important, but it doesn’t have to be ranked. Use this list as your foundation and refer back to it whenever you have trouble thinking of an answer to a question you may be asked during the interview, such as “why this program?”

Read and Deconstruct the Mission Statement

Medical schools in the US and medical schools in Canada all have mission statements. Some use a single line to state their mission; others compile an entire list about their mission and its objectives. Whatever school, or hospital-based residency you are applying to, the mission statement gives you an inside look into how the school or hospital views itself, which you should investigate in-depth.

You don’t have to investigate the history of the statement or school (although that can help as well). You should take apart their mission statement and examine each phrase or word to see what they mean to you. For example, the Harvard Medical School’s mission statement is:

“To nurture a diverse, inclusive community dedicated to alleviating suffering and improving health and well-being for all through excellence in teaching and learning, discovery and scholarship, and service and leadership.”

Now, there is a lot to unpack here, but start with single words: “diverse”, “inclusive”. Write down “diversity” and “inclusivity” and think about what those concepts mean to you. Remember, this is for yourself so there is no right or wrong answer. You are not writing a diversity med school essay, but simply giving yourself material to discuss, should your interviewers ask you about it.

But you can choose other parts of the statement to focus on, like “alleviating suffering” or “discovery” or “service”. You can do it for all of them, but if there are concepts that speak to you particularly, such as “alleviating suffering”, stick to those. But after you write down, for example, what “alleviating suffering” means to you, think about your own experiences with suffering or distress and how you reacted, how you felt, and what you did to alleviate someone’s suffering.

Get to Know the Faculty

You probably already did this when deciding which program to choose. But now you can do it more in-depth and find out things about particular faculty members who interest you the most. All residency programs list their faculty and department heads and also show biographical information, often focused on their professional and academic achievements.

You don’t always know who your interviewers will be – unless the program tells you directly – but it’s good to find out as much information about the people you will be learning and training under. Not necessarily to find common ground, although that helps too, but to more directly tie your mission to the program’s. Learn these details but don’t be overly fawning or effusive with your praise.

If during the interview you are asked to say something related to the faculty, or something similar, such as, “why this program?”, say something like:

Dr. Botelho's investigation into improving healthcare delivery in rural areas through understanding the cultural values of patients is illustrative to me of how seriously this program takes bettering patient care, which is a goal I share”.

Being too effusive would have been this:

Dr. Botelho’s groundbreaking work on improving healthcare delivery is some of the best research on the subject that I have ever seen. She has paved the way for new insights to be made into how rural populations are treated, and it would be my esteemed honor to be able to study and train with such a dedicated, insightful, and passionate researcher and doctor.”

Tone it down.

You’ll be more impressive if you show restraint and simply mention that a faculty member’s research is related to yours. Spend one half of your answer talking about the program, then spend the other half talking about how you connect to it. It is your interview after all, so always try to connect what the program is doing to what you are doing or want to do.

Know the Location

Location, location, location. It’s not only a factor in real estate.

According to a survey by the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP), a program’s geographic location is the number one deciding factor for medical school graduates (88%). Other factors such as, “reputation of the program” and “goodness of fit”, were second and third, respectively, so don’t be ashamed to talk about how much you’ve always wanted to study or live on the West Coast, or the Pacific Northwest, or New England.

Of course, don’t make it the only reason. If your interviewers ask you, “why this program?”, integrate the location into your answer, but use other tidbits to round-out your answer so you don’t seem one-dimensional.

For example:

I’m drawn to this program for a number of reasons. I’ve always been attracted to the unique culture and geography of Louisiana; New Orleans in particular, and I feel that being in this diverse environment will invariably add to my training. But I’m also interested in the amount of research being done at the many interdisciplinary research centers here at Tulane...”.

Anticipating Interview Questions

After you’ve compiled your research and written down what you like most about the program (location, faculty, research, etc.) then you can start to think about particular questions that you’ll be asked. One perennial favorite residency interview question is not even a question, really, but that’s what makes it so difficult to respond.

The “tell me about yourself” residency interview question is easy to mess up.

What do you talk about?

What should you not talk about?

For this particular question, the best way to address it is to limit your answer to two or three things that you are especially proud of. You don’t want to launch into a lifetime biography, so keep your answer short and only mention those things that you feel best define you.

These two or three things will be different for every person, so you have to really examine your past experiences, including from when you were very young if it played a role in who you’ve become. From working with dozens of residency candidates in the past that have been accepted, we’ve come up with the three main areas our students tend to focus on when asked this question:

  • Family, background, culture
  • An obstacle, adversity, or challenge you have overcome
  • A hobby, passion, extracurricular activity that you have done for a long time

Each of these topics illustrates something different about you, which is precisely the information your interviewers are looking for by asking this question. You don’t have to talk about all three necessarily. You can even mention only one and elaborate on it with a narrative and examples. We’ll give you a sample answer addressing only a person’s background (family, where they grew up) to give you an idea of how to structure your own answer:

Thank you for your question. Well, I would say my journey started in South Africa. I was born in Cape Town; I’m a descendent of English colonizers. That history is not something I’m proud of, but it’s still interesting to me, as an example of how far I’ve come, especially in light of my work at the One People’s Project and other anti-racist groups.

We moved to the US when I was seven and it was startling at first, for a child who grew up in a racially segregated society. My father anticipated this and pulled me aside on my first day of school; I still remember what he told me.

‘We are not in Cape Town, anymore. This is America. Here everyone is equal, Black, White.’ Then, he took my hand and put my fingers on his pulse; then mine. ‘You feel that?’, he asked. ‘Everyone has that; no matter their skin color, race, what language they speak. Everyone’s heart makes a beat.’ I took that lesson to, heart, if you will. I think it’s something that ultimately drew me toward medicine. Everything about us on the inside, more or less, is the same, but learning all I could about the way the body works is a way for me to learn about humanity, and what makes us human.”

There’s much more you can talk about, but using even one example of your history can help answer the question. Brevity is something you also need to practice and master, which leads up to our next section. 

Practicing the Interview

We’ll start first with a look at standard residency interviews, meaning traditional one-on-one, or panel interviews, where you are faced with program faculty or administrators and answer their questions. But, the actual “interview” is often only one part of an entire interview day, which can include things like:

  • A morning orientation with faculty or current residents
  • A tour of the hospital or school or both
  • A simulated “rotation” through the relevant hospital ward

But we’ll get to that later. For now, let’s go through the importance of using residency mock interviews to help you prepare. You can start by looking for professional residency admissions consultants who specialize in residency interview prep and have experience helping hundreds of graduates get into their preferred residency program.

It’s best to use someone with experience in residency interviews who can give you tips on your answers, but other important areas such as where your answers are lacking, how to answer (tone of voice, body language) and general interview etiquette. They can give you objective, professional advice, whereas other graduates will give subjective advice that does not come from experience but pure feeling and opinion.

Whether or not you decide to use a professional residency admissions consultant or not, you can also get someone, a close friend or colleague to read out a list of standard residency interview questions, and time your answers to help you find the right pace, so you answer neither fast nor slow. 

Even this practice is beneficial because it puts you in the mindset or an actual interview, and gives you the practice to become comfortable, even though, it’s normal to be nervous on the actual day.

The Mock Interview

If you were to treat this as a “real” interview, and you should, your consultant would go through some interview questions, get your answer, and then breakdown what was good, what needs work, how you responded, whether you were audible and enunciated every word, and, of course, the content of your answer.

A residency application consultant can only do so much and you have to put in the effort to take their advice seriously and create a practice routine for when you are alone. Your consultant can help you in this, as well, but you have to stick to it.

What to Take Away from a Mock Interview

Whatever advice or guidance your residency interview consultant tells you is personalized, so it addresses your particular strengths and weaknesses, as well as any other points your consultant would’ve noticed about your delivery, body language, strength or weakness of your answer. But your consultant may have given you these general tips that can help any residency candidate in their interview.

  • Create a study schedule and stick to it
  • Meet up with other pre-residents and study together
  • Try exercise or some physical activity to relieve stress
  • Review all your medical school application documents (personal statements, secondary essays, AMCAS Work and Experiences, or AMCAS Most Meaningful Experience)
  • Arrive early to your interview (maybe half an hour before your scheduled time)
  • Write down important points, but don’t memorize your answers

Preparing for an MMI Residency Interview

You may or may not have to complete a MMI (multiple-mini-interviews) as part of your overall residency interview. Some programs use a hybrid method combining the two styles (traditional and MMI) as part of their interview scheme. The preparation for an MMI is much different than preparing for a conventional one-on-one interview, we’ll tell you why after explaining a little about MMI.

MMI was developed by the Michael G. DeGroote Faculty of Medicine McMaster University to assess an applicant’s non-cognitive abilities and other competencies unrelated to medical or general scientific knowledge. You’ve probably heard of it, and may have even participated in one, as many medical schools in the US, Canada and around the world have adopted the method for their applicants.

Basically, multiple-mini-interviews are made up 12 stations that you must visit to answer a specific question. Each station has two parts:

  • A question, prompt or short scenario that you read before entering the mini-interview
  • The mini-interview where an interviewer asks you for opinion or response to the question, prompt or scenario

Depending on your program, you may have less stations – some programs use 6, but the typical range is between 6 and 12 – but the intention of the questions is the same; measuring your competency in areas such as:

  • Professionalism
  • Ethics
  • Knowledge of healthcare policy
  • Communication skills
  • Personal attributes

The reason MMI can be so vexing is that there are four types of question categories that are used in the interview:

  • Scenario-based questions
  • Policy-based questions
  • Personal questions
  • Quirky or unconventional questions

According to residency directors and admissions officials, there is no right or wrong answer to these questions, but this is untrue. MMI answers are graded and scored according to a Likert scale that assigns a numerical value of 1-10 to each answer; 1 is the lowest; 10 is the highest. So, even though you are often told to just answer “honestly”, the truth is you can come prepared in different ways

Here we’ll tell you how to prepare for each type of question.

How-to-Answer Scenario-Based Questions

Scenario-based questions have several sub-categories, such as:

  • Ethical dilemma
  • Professional ethics
  • Conflict of interest

If you get a scenario-based question, read carefully about who’s involved and what type of scenario it is. When you’ve identified what kind of scenario it is, and are ready to begin formulating an answer (remember you have up to two minutes before facing the interviewer), approach the question from a place of empathy, even for those who are the “villains” of the scenario.

If the question is about how you would react to a colleague involved in a conflict of interest or a breach of ethics, don’t automatically condemn the person and paint yourself as the hero. This is an immature and knee-jerk reaction that medical professionals are not supposed to do.

Rather, talk about finding out more about this colleague’s breach of ethics and what was behind it, if it is that type of question. Think through your answer in front of your interviewer so they can see your thought process and what you value the most.

But talking about finding out more or getting more information is key. You were only given a short description of the scenario and there may be other details that could affect your actions or decisions. If your interviewer does not disclose any more information, then you still have to come up with a concrete solution that address the needs of the person being negatively affected by the behavior and offer a fair, non-judgemental solution.

How-to-Answer Policy-Based Questions

Policy-based questions try to determine whether you are up-to-date on the most pressing and significant issues surrounding healthcare policy in your city, state/province, country, or the world. If you’ve graduated from medical school, then you should be familiar with a lot of the social, economic and political factors swirling around healthcare, as many medical schools have adopted curriculums that examine these very issues.

But still, as a general rule for all future physicians, you should be always reading about new advancements in your field, along with the policy implications of those advancements. Legal decisions, medical breakthroughs, and important discoveries all ripple through society and as an astute, intelligent physician you should know all about the socio-economic and political factors that influence healthcare policy in your area.

How-to-Answer Personal Questions

Don’t get too personal when answering a personal MMI question. The point of asking a personal question for your interviewers is to see how you talk about yourself, so you should neither be arrogant or insecure. If you are asked about a difficult time in your past, tell the story in a linear fashion (beginning-middle-end) and show how you changed or progressed. If you are asked to talk about how you are ready to enter this program, talk about skills and traits you have picked up from your preparation, whether during clinical rotations, a research fellowship or some other medicine-related project you were involved in.

How-to-Answer Quirky Questions

Quirky questions are something you wouldn’t expect from a serious event like a residency interview, but your interviewers are human too, and they may want to throw a figurative wrench your way to see how you react to a sudden moment of levity. But just because they want to get a reaction out of you, remember where you are and that you still have to comport yourself professionally. If you are asked a quirky question, such as “if you could any kitchen utensil, which would you be?”, go with it but try to form your answer around your preparedness for residency or being a physician. So, give your answer, and then explain why and why these qualities are useful to you, your colleagues and patients.

A Few Days Before the Interview

Virtual Interviews

The pandemic put a stop to in-person interviews that medical schools and residency programs use to do. Now, even though the pandemic has subsided, many schools and programs have opted to stay with the virtual format, while others have returned to in-person interviews, so you need to make sure you know which type your program uses.

Fortunately, this type of information is usually made public, so you’ll know then what kind of interview it is and how to prepare. But even though many residency programs hold virtual interviews, a lot of them take advantage of the whole day; replicating what it would be like for you to be on-campus or at the hospital.

They hold events throughout the day (all virtually), including Q &A sessions with current residents, virtual campus tours, and other gathering where you get to interact with the faculty and residents-in-training. Fortunately, the technical preparations for a virtual interview are different (and cheaper) from when you are scheduling your in-person interview.

1. Make sure all your equipment is working.

Take the time to test your microphone and camera and also that you’ve updated whatever program or software you are using to do your interview. Call someone and have someone call you the day before or a few hours before to see whether all your equipment is working.

2. Find a quiet place with no distractions around you.

Take advantage that you are in your home and find a place that is comfortable, quiet and that will allow you to focus on the interview. Preferably at a desk (not lying down or in a recliner) or somewhere with natural light that faces you during the interview. If you live with others, tell them that this area is off-limits for the day and to not disturb you.

3. Have backups ready in case something goes wrong.

If you are able and have the resources, try having a backup device, internet connection, microphone, camera, etc., in case something goes wrong during the interview and you need to switch to another set-up.

4. Act as if you are in the room with your interviewers.

Just because you are in your home, don’t assume that you can be informal in any way, whether in your dress (you should still dress appropriately), demeanor or language. Always be professional in your words, and behavior.

In-Person Interviews

If your program holds in-person interviews there are a few steps you need to cover before the actual interview day. The first being how to get there and where you will be staying, as well as other incidentals such as food, attire, and transportation to and from. Depending on the program, some of them may help you cover these costs (airfare or accommodation), while others will not.

And there are costs. The average cost of going to residency interviews in the US is around $3000. In Canada, the cost soared to almost $4000CAD pre-pandemic, but has now nose-dived to a little over $950CAD. Given how much the residency interview process used to cost, many Canadian medical graduates seem happier with virtual interviews, as almost 50% disagreed with the idea that in-person interviews are more valuable than virtual ones. 

But even if you don’t have to travel that far, there are other costs such as gas, buying clothes if you need them, finding childcare, application fees, so, if you are worried about spending too much to go to your residency interviews, there are a few ways that you can save while applying.

  • Choose programs close to one another to cut down on airfare
  • Drive, or take other forms of transportation like train or bus, if they are cheaper than flying
  • If you do have to go out-of-town, stay with friends, family
  • Find student housing that may give you cheaper rates
  • If you're visiting a new city, skip bars and restaurants, do something low-cost like visiting monuments or parks

If your program is nearby, and you don’t need to travel or stay overnight, then make sure you plan a way to get there on time. It’s possible that some programs have free transportation or shuttles to their campus so take advantage of that. Whether you are driving or taking public transportation, leave as early as possible to account for any delays or traffic.

Days Before the Interview

Pre-and-Post-Interview Socials

You may find that at least some of your programs have pre-interview socials. These events are relaxed, semi-formal dinners, presentations, social gatherings or a combination of all three that the program holds for interviewees, and their guests along with faculty and residents from the program. But this is not the time to let your guard down. Remember that this is something akin to a work dinner or party, where you are allowed to be social and convivial with your future bosses and supervisors but don’t cross any lines.

What does that mean?


Don't pester your hosts with questions about your application

Don't wear flashy clothes, or try to call attention to yourself

Don’t talk about yourself unless you are directly asked

Don’t over drink, or better yet, don’t drink at all

Don't be overly familiar with your hosts (treating them like friends); maintain boundaries

Don't interrupt when someone else is speaking

Don't bring up controversial or divisive topics

Don’t be gross, or weird, use proper table manners


Do listen attentively to everyone, residents, faculty, other candidates

Do be courteous and respectful and polite to everyone

Do interact and socialize with your fellow candidates and hosts

Do show interest in the program and ask questions about it

Do ask questions, but naturally, don’t come too prepared or rehearsed

Do show up on time

These rules apply to any post-interview socials, as well, which may or may not happen depending on your program. You should follow these rules, basically, any time you are invited to a social event with the residents and directors of the program.

It may not happen at all, since some programs do not have these events but something similar such as the morning orientation, or other presentations or Q & A sessions they have prepared. Whatever the case, remember that whenever you have to interact with representatives of the residency program that it’s as important as the interview itself and you should act accordingly.

The Day Before your Interview

Throughout your preparation for your interview, managing stress and anxiety should be a priority. You will be doing yourself a disservice if you don’t find a healthy way to deal with the stress that every potential resident feels when they have upcoming interviews. It may be hard to make time during your preparation to do something for yourself but one day you must absolutely take off is the day before your interview.

By this point, you’ve done all the research. You’ve made all the notes and at least memorized key points, but not entire answers. You have done your mock interviews and studied according to the feedback given. You’ve done all you’ve possibly can to prepare, so it makes no sense to continue all that preparation the day before. If your interview is virtual, you should do an equipment check to see whether all your devices are working.

But, if you are doing an in-person, you can prepare in an indirect way. You can visit the campus or hospital to look around for yourself. Some programs hold tours on the day, but doing it alone is more liberating and you can choose what to see and where to go. Maybe you’ll see something that you can use in one of your answers.

A lot of programs have strong connections to their surroundings so taking a walk in the city or going for a nature hike can also be inspiring and give you more ideas about what to say, when asked, “why this program?” You should get out all your nervous energy with a nature hike so you can sleep too. Try to be as rested as possible for your interview by getting at least seven hours, hopefully more, the night before.

Interview Day

Get Up Early

On your interview day, you want to feel energized because it will be a long day. Eat a light breakfast and get ready. You want to be well-groomed and look professional so you should wear business casual attire; a dark-colored suit, shoes and tie, no perfume or cologne, for men; women should also wear dark-colored, professional attire and have tasteful make-up and hair.

Get there early.

If traffic has cooperated and you have arrived half an hour before, as you should, then register wherever you have to and wait with the other candidates. Depending on the program, you may have to sit through an informal presentation about the day’s itinerary so you know where you have to be and when. Unless there is an explicit Q&A session, you don’t need to ask a question.

There may also be a tour before your interview. You can choose to ask a question if something interesting pops up, but you should mostly be listening to what your guides say. The tours are usually done by current residents and they’ll take you through the physical spaces where you’ll be working, discuss the day-to-day aspects of your training, and give details about salary, benefits and other features of the program.

The Interview

When you go in, smile. It is important to have a positive, upbeat demeanor, even though you are nervous as heck. Be polite and greet everyone in the room. You’ll have a few minutes of introductions and you’ll interviewers will take your through the interview format and then they’ll start the interview.

Listen carefully to every word. And don’t be afraid to sit in silence for a few moments after the question is asked. You don’t want to think about your answer while your interviewers are talking because you might miss out or not hear important information, and then your response will be inaccurate. Take the time to absorb the question, think about it, and then answer.

Here we’ll give you a list of sample interview and answers. We’ll start first with questions from a traditional panel interview and then move to MMI and situational judgement test questions.

“Why do you want to come to this program?”

I think UCLA and the Emergency Medicine Residency program appeal to me because of the emphasis on global health. Addressing the question directly, now provide the background for why you are interested in global health and what experiences you have had. But the reason it appeals to me is because I think the skills of a doctor should be taken everywhere they can be taken. I did an elective rotation during medical school where I went to a makeshift clinic on a farm to treat migrant workers, right there in the fields. Some of their injuries and wounds were treatable but they had ignored them because of the hassle and obstacles to receiving care (taking time-off, status insecurities). That experience cemented in me the necessity for doctors to go where there are patients and not vice-versa and, I feel that the Global Health electives here at UCLA are a part of that.

“Why should we choose you?”

Initially, I didn’t want to pursue pediatrics. I was scared of the emotional challenges involved in witnessing the suffering of young children. It’s always a good idea to show a little vulnerability when answering questions about yourself. The thought of encountering their pain and vulnerability frightened me. However, during my pediatrics rotation, I had to face this fear and instead of despair I had a profound realization. Through seeing patients, I understood that being a pediatrician meant being a source of comfort, support, and healing for children in all circumstances. Sometimes, what was needed wasn’t medicine or a treatment, but just to be a reassuring presence in their lives. It meant being there for them during their moments of joy and vitality, as well as during their most challenging times. Witnessing the resilience and strength of these young patients who experienced everything from HIV/AIDS and cancer to whooping cough and lupus along with the unwavering dedication of their healthcare providers, inspired me to embrace pediatrics as my path. It is because of those children and their providers that I was able to conquer my fear and find my true calling.

What are your greatest strengths/weaknesses?

For years, my Catholic upbringing made me feel that my queerness was a weakness, something to be hidden and suppressed. I struggled with feelings of shame and uncertainty. However, when I went to college, I began to connect with other queer individuals who shared similar experiences. It was through meeting them and seeing how unafraid and proud they were to be LGBTQ+ that finally gave me the strength to come out. Despite my fears, my parents were supportive and accepted me when I told them.

But when I decided on medical school, I was still unsure of whether being queer was something I should talk about. I didn’t mention it in any of my essays or statements or interviews, but I feel like now, when I’m about to complete my training that I should talk about how finding acceptance and community has transformed my life. Being open gave me the strength to accept who I am and shaped me into a more compassionate, understanding, and inclusive physician.


A 40-year-old schizophrenic patient needs hernia repair. The surgeon discussed the procedure with the patient who understood the procedure. Can the patient give consent?

Identify what type of question it is. I don’t feel that this question is truly an ethical dilemma, because mental health experts, medical professionals and governing bodies around the world have reiterated that patients with mental illness are capable of giving consent and are medically competent. The patient’s autonomy is most important here and their right to decide whether to be operated on or not rests with them, unless a qualified, mental health professional is able to prove otherwise. Now give your answer. In this case, I would consult with the patient first, in the same way the surgeon did. I would talk them through the procedure and what’s involved. But in the case that they are not able to give consent for whatever reason, I would consult with their primary psychiatrist or psychologist to understand the extent of their schizophrenia, along with their treatment, their prognosis, and whether the hernia operation will impede their mental health treatment. I would want to understand as much about their condition and whether it seriously impairs their judgement to give or withdraw consent, especially when it comes to their health. If their primary mental health care giver says the patient is not capable of giving informed consent, then I would not perform the operation, until someone would be able to give consent on their behalf, similar to a power of attorney. If the patient has had schizophrenia for a large portion of their lives, it is possible that their family or caregivers have anticipated this scenario and have taken on the legal responsibilities for deciding the type of care their loved one receives, which also places the issue of consent in their hands. 

Post-Interview and “Thank You” Notes

When the interview is complete, thank all your interviewers for their time and walk out the same way you came in, smiling. It’s a very simple way to make a great impression, so use that smile to your advantage. There may be more interviews during the day, or, some programs host exit interviews where they ask you about the interview process itself and whether there were things you enjoyed and things you did not.

But when you finally leave the campus or hospital, remember that you should send “thank you” notes to your interviewers or the staff that helped you schedule your interviews or helped in any other way, from arranging your accommodations or helping you with directions on how to get to the interview. It’s another simple thing to do to show your appreciation and how gracious you are.


1. How should I prepare for my residency interview?

There are a number of different ways to prepare if you are invited for an interview. First, you should research the program and think of reasons why you want to attend. Second, find out what kind of interview the program holds, and ask for help from a residency interview professional to help you with mock interviews. Look for professional advice to improve your delivery, comportment and the content of your answers. Remember to ask questions of residency programs, too, to see whether a program suits your needs.

If you are doing virtual interviews only, make sure all your equipment, devices, and internet connection are working. If you are doing in-person, make sure you try to choose the most frugal travel and accommodation options, and also try to show up at least thirty minutes before your interview. Dress and act professionally and try to relax as much as possible before, and during the interview. 

2. Are residency interviews important?

Yes, they are very important. They are similar to job interviews in that sense, as they give you and your interviewer an opportunity to asses each other. Based on the interview, you may decide to rank this program on your rank order list, or not, while the school may use the interview to determine whether you are a good fit for them. 

3. What should I say during my residency interview?

There are various ways and strategies to use when doing a residency interview based on the interview format. If you are unsure of what to say refer to the sections on the different types of questions and the sample answers given. 

4. What should I not say during my residency interview?

Again, there are many things to avoid during your residency interview, such as being inattentive, not answering the question directly, not using concrete examples or experiences. But the other no-no's include not disparaging any other program or residency or specialty; not saying anything unprofessional; being rude, discourteous and shallow. 

5. How else should I prepare for my residency interview?

You should also prepare by taking care of yourself and finding healthy ways to cope and deal with stress. You may not always have a lot of time to prepare for residency interviews, which means you have to do a lot in little time. But incorporating stress-relief activities such as exercise, hobbies and extracurricular activities is important as well, so you can practice with a clear head. 

6. What are some practical tips when I’m in the interview?

When you are in the interview, don’t be afraid to sit in silence with the question as you contemplate the answer. Many residents do not take the time to listen to the interviewer’s question and, as a result, may hear it incorrectly and give a poor answer. Another practical tip is to wear a suit or shoes that you have worn before; even if they are new wear them before so you feel more comfortable in them on interview day. 

7. What should I do the day before the interview?

You should find a way to relax and not prepare for the interview in any way, unless it combines relaxation with preparation. Take a walk to the campus or hospital and check out the surrounding areas to give you a sense of any important landmarks or features of the community that you may be living in for the next few years. 

8. What happens if I have to cancel my interview?

If you do have to cancel your interview, give your program as much notice as possible. They have hundreds of interviews to schedule and the quicker you tell them, the more easily they will be able to offer you another slot.  

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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