So, you’re preparing for your internal medicine residency interview questions, and you don’t even know where to start. If your medical residency interview preparation doesn’t go well, you won’t have a shot at your dream residency. Any number of questions can be covered in a residency interview, and in a variety of different types. You need to expect common questions, sidewinders, and everything in between.

Looking for good, reliable medical residency interview tips can be tough, but with solid answers, a little practice, and a residency mock interview or two under your belt, you’ll be ready to deliver your best interview yet.

To that end, read on for some common internal medicine residency interview questions, sample answers, and breakdowns for each question, as well as a list of more residency interview questions.

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Article Contents
10 min read

Top Internal Medicine Residency Interview Questions A Short List of Other Common or Potential Internal Medicine Residency Interview Questions General Tips on Answering Internal Medicine Residency Interview Questions Conclusion FAQs

Top Internal Medicine Residency Interview Questions

Why Internal Medicine?

What is being asked?

This question is one of the most commonly asked questions of any interviewee, and it is almost certain to come up during your interview. What your interviewer wants to know here is simply how close a fit you will be to the residency. You should have a connection that is well thought through, speaks to elements of your personality or character, and which shows why you are the perfect match to your specialty of choice.

Want to know the most common residency interview questions and answers? Watch this video:

Variants of this question

  • What makes you want to study internal medicine?
  • Why did you pick this residency?
  • Why do you want to work in internal medicine?

Sample Answer

Deciding which area of medicine to enter is one of the hardest decisions I have faced, since I love so many different areas of medicine. Ultimately, my decision to focus on internal medicine has to do with who I am and who I think I can become.

My favorite hobby is chess, and a big reason I love chess is because it is a game of dense complexity and problem solving. My favorite variant of chess is speed chess where complex decisions happen quickly. Internal medicine is a discipline of complexity, and I feel at home in that world. Being an internist requires an understanding of the many aspects of adult medicine. I feel rewarded when I can apply my problem-solving mind to help people, and this particular discipline allows me to do that like no other.

An internist must understand not just individual organs and systems, but how those systems interact, and be able to diagnose patients, come up with treatment plans, and effectively implement those plans based on a broad understanding of body mechanics. I feel valued when I work out such problems, whether as a chess player or medical student. During my internal medicine rotation, I was able to assist with diagnoses of several patients, including several difficult diagnoses which were noted by my instructing physician.

That is who I am, but I am also interested in who I can become. By entering a residency as an internist, I will challenge myself, keep my mind sharp, and learn medicine in a broad capacity. I believe that studying internal medicine will keep me focused, expand my knowledge of medicine, and allow me to both develop and practice my existing talents and abilities. I believe I will be the best physician I can be by entering into this discipline.

Tell Me About Yourself

What is being asked?

A deceptively complicated question, “tell me about yourself,” is another question which will almost certainly be guaranteed to come up at some point during your interview. This question wants to get a good, well-rounded picture of who you are. It is complex because you only have the space of 2–3 minutes in which to give a good picture of your life and who you are while displaying your best abilities.

Although you don’t necessarily need to talk about medicine or internal medicine, you should still have at least a peripheral connection to your residency of choice here, even if only to highlight character traits desirable in your chosen specialty.

With that said, you also want to give a picture of somebody who has an interesting history and is more well-rounded than just a workaholic student obsessed with academic studies and an optimized professional career path. You might do this by speaking of your childhood, your hobbies, or anything else which will show your humanity in the eyes of your interviewers.

Variants of this question

  • What kind of person are you?
  • What are you like?
  • Can you talk about yourself for a bit?
  • Give us a quick introduction to you.

Sample Answer

I grew up in a condo in the heart of the city, and I used to dream of being in a wide-open space, filled with green or stars. When we would visit relatives or friends out of town, I was always at my most excited. That might be part of the reason why I have always loved the natural sciences –because I grew up fascinated by this world that seemed to be outside of my reality.

With that said, I did love growing up in the city, and I got to experience a lot of cultural programs that I might not have otherwise experienced, which is why I think I’m such a fan of music. When I am not studying, I love listening to music, and when I am studying, I will often play music as a way to think through problems and engage my mind to keep it focused. My favorite instrument to play is the violin, and I get lost in the strings as I got lost staring up at the stars as a boy.

My experiences growing up led me to appreciate what all places could offer me. The country held tranquility and a gateway to curiosity and the natural world, while city life was filled with excitement and a connection to other people – most embodied in my love of music.

This understanding has led me to one of my highest values in life, which is to appreciate what I have, rather than simply look to what I do not have. As well, my upbringing and appreciation for all aspects of life have led me to recognize the importance of how parts fit together to form a larger whole, and how something like music can affect my understanding of academic problems.

Wondering what are the best residency interview questions that you need to know? Check this infographic:

What Do You Do for Fun?

What is being asked?

Similar to “tell us about yourself,” but with a slight spin, this question is also probing to find out what kind of a person you are. Your hobbies and how you spend your free time will reveal a lot about you to the interviewer(s). Pick one or two of your favorite things to do. You don’t need to directly connect them to medicine. You should talk about activities or hobbies that are interesting and reflect on your abilities and faculties. You might highlight anything like sports, reading, playing instruments, languages, or any number of other activities.

There are very few hobbies you should avoid speaking about. Even if you genuinely love spending time in laboratories, you might want to leave that out and focus on less academic-related hobbies, as such an answer might make you seem like a workaholic. Anything seen as a waste of time isn’t wise to speak of, either. Avoid speaking about spending time on social media, for instance.

Whatever you talk about, make sure you connect your activity to good personality traits, lessons learned, or your specialty of choice.

Variants of this question

  • What are your hobbies?
  • What do you do when you aren’t studying?
  • What do you do in your spare time?

Sample Answer

While medicine and studies take up a large amount of my time these days, no matter how busy I am, I always find time to challenge myself with woodworking. This is a hobby which I have enjoyed since I was little, and while I always knew that it would never be a vocation for me, I still love carving.

I got a pocketknife for my birthday one year, and I immediately did what a lot of little boys do: I started whittling, sharpening sticks into spears and swords for my imaginary games. As time went on, I started challenging myself with actual projects.

You never realize how hard it is to carve a smooth, round ball out of wood until you try. It’s trickier than it sounds. Once I had that down, I started trying to carve small animals and little wooden people. Each new figurine took patience and care, but each one was rewarding as it took shape.

Along the way, my hobby has given me many other gifts. For instance, I take pride in precision, which includes keeping my blades sharp and cared for, and being precise about safety protocols. Woodworking has taught me how to care for myself and my tools and to always be thinking about how I am working as well as what I am working on. I have also come to have a deep appreciation for wood in all its forms, including a sense of responsibility to care for the natural world.

Finally, over the years, I have given away most of my projects, usually to nieces and nephews who love these unique toys. Woodworking taught me lessons about caring for tools, safety, and precision, but it also allowed me to share my gifts with others.

What Made You Choose Our Program?

What is being asked?

Did you put any thought into which residency you were applying to? There are lots of places where you can apply to work, and each one has unique advantages which you should have considered before applying. This question is making sure that you did your homework, thought about where you would like to go, and applied to a residency that makes sense for you. This means that you didn’t just look up a list of “best places to do a residency,” or top-rated facilities, but that you actually thought about the value that you could bring or that you would take away from your top-choice program. Answer with that in mind: you must connect yourself to the program to which you are applying.

Variants of this question

  • Why did you choose us?
  • Why do you want to do your residency here?
  • What is it about our program that appeals to you?

Sample Answer

Internal medicine is a complex field, and I knew that if I was going to be an internist, I needed a program which made sense for me and for that discipline. Your program fits my criteria, as I believe it will prepare me for internal medicine, and I think I am ideally suited to this environment.

Your program focuses on working as a health care team. I believe strongly in working together with other health care professionals to achieve optimal results for patients. I thrive in an environment of teamwork. Throughout medical school, my institution emphasized small group work, and so I have had a tremendous experience working as part of a close-knit team.

You have highlighted a commitment to diversity, and I respect this as a general principle. One of my career goals is to help create a more inclusive environment in medicine through research that will benefit underserved populations. Given that your program has a diversity commitment, I know that I will be able to get a good head-start on my career goals.

Finally, you have several excellent teaching doctors who are internists themselves, and I believe that I can learn an immense amount working under their supervision. Dr. Patel, for example, has conducted extensive research in internal medicine, and his focus on holistic care has influenced my decision to become an internist myself.

On a personal, professional, and practical level, I know that your program, above other programs, will help me become a better physician and provide an environment I believe I can greatly contribute to as a resident.

Do You Have Any Questions for Me?

What is being asked?

A curious mind, one which has carefully thought through a future residency, will likely have some questions to ask. This question wants to know if you are a careful thinker who is really interested in a residency at this particular program or in this discipline. Your questions can reveal this because you might ask something that shows you are thinking about all aspects of the residency ahead of you. You might also display your eagerness by asking certain questions about the program and about how you can excel, if matched.

While you might have had all your questions answered, it is a good idea to have a few questions in your back pocket so that you can ask them if given the opportunity.

Variants of this question

  • Was there anything you wanted to know about the program?
  • Do you have anything you would like to know about?

Sample questions you might ask:

  • Can you tell me more about the structure of your program?
  • What are the hallmarks of success for a resident, particularly pertaining to your program?
  • What is a typical week like at your institution?
  • Do you find that your workplace is more professional or personal?

A Short List of Other Common or Potential Internal Medicine Residency Interview Questions

General Tips on Answering Internal Medicine Residency Interview Questions

Every question in a residency interview is intended to make sure that you are right for the program and that the program is right for you. A match is achieved when you fit like a puzzle piece, perfectly in place with the program you have applied to. You can better gauge the fit of a program by learning some of the best questions to ask residency programs.

Internal medicine is a broad field, and there are many different ways to highlight your appropriateness for this specialty. You will want to focus on your ability to solve problems, think under pressure, make connections, deal with complexity, and understand big-picture thinking.


With these general tips and specific questions under your belt, you can better prepare yourself for your residency interview. Make sure to practice answering questions in your own words and as many questions as you can. The next phase of preparation will be the mock interview, which is the best way to prepare yourself for an interview, as this mimics the interview conditions and simulates the real thing. Practice is essential, and acing your interview is a necessary step to your success, as any residency prep book will tell you.


1. How long should my answers be?

Long enough to answer the question, short enough to prevent yourself rambling or repeating yourself. About 2–3 minutes is standard, although this will vary from question to question.

2. Should I memorize my answers?

No. Memorized answers often sound robotic or disengaged, or you might get asked a variant question and have no answer at all. Memorize what you want to talk about and the structure, not verbatim wording.

3. Does every answer need to be about medicine or my desired residency?

No, but every answer should present you as the ideal candidate for your residency. You don’t have to directly mention it but put at least one major aspect of yourself on display – one that belies your suitability to your desired residency.

4. How do I prepare for different interview formats?

Mock interviews are the best, but most of the time the format won’t change your general strategy. Arrive on time, dress in business-casual attire, be prepared and focused, and you should be fine whether you are in a panel, one-on-one, in-person, or virtual interview.

5. What should I wear to my interview?

Business-casual attire will be comfortable and professional.

6. What if I make a mistake or misspeak?

Simply saying, “Sorry, I meant to say,” and then correcting the mistake works. After that, take a breath, get back into your answer, and don’t dwell on it. Misspeaking is easy to do, so don’t worry about it.

7. What should I avoid talking about?

Negativity is the biggest red flag to avoid. Speaking poorly of others, including other programs, putting anybody down – including yourself – any kind of cynicism or pessimism never plays well in an interview.

Also, any red flags like a low test score or an unexplained gap should be addressed, if they have not been addressed in other areas of your application. To leave out explanations is a red flag itself.

8. How important is the interview?

Interviews are one of the most important aspects of the residency application because it is your biggest chance to show yourself off for who you are. Although you can show your personal side in essays, the interview is a much bigger step, as it is a live interaction. You have a tremendous opportunity to show yourself off.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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