Looking at interview questions is a great way to prepare for your interview once invited. It will give you a good idea of how to successfully respond to various types of questions. Moreover, practicing will help you hone your interviewing skills. You can consider for additional help with this. Exploring is a sure way to boost your confidence and acquire the necessary knowledge to perform well in your residency interview. In this article, we look specifically at common questions you can expect in your interview for an ObGyn residency.
The Council on Resident Education in Obstetrics and Gynecology (CREOG) and the Association of Professors of Gynecology and Obstetrics (APGO) have made for the 2023 obstetrics and gynecology residency application cycle in the US. Most interviews will be held in November, and status will be communicated to applicants in December. In Canada, most CaRMS interviews will be scheduled during the last three weeks of January. All US and Canadian interviews will be virtual. Some will give you an idea of the general interview process and what constitute appropriate and inappropriate questions.
Depending on the program, your interview may consist of , or traditional/panel interview questions. Not all ObGyn residency interview questions will be behavioral, but many of them will be. In addition to continuing your training through a residency, you will also be practicing medicine, so this should be the focus of your responses. In all cases, endeavor to provide examples from real experiences of which you have first-hand knowledge.
Would you like to learn about the 10 common residency interview questions? Watch this video:
Directors of residency programs are interested in learning about your personality, your potential as a resident physician, and the reasons behind your specialty decision. Remember that your goal is to be matched, not to “get accepted,” so you should present your authentic self. Doing so will ensure that when you start your residency, you will feel qualified for the position and be able to fully contribute.
When possible, discuss engagement in teamwork and the roles you have played as a team member in academic, professional, or other settings. Also emphasize your ability to respect your patient’s autonomy, especially as it pertains to the ObGyn context.
Prior to your interview:
For your interview:
Why Are You Here?
What is being asked?
Always prepare for this question. Expect to discuss the precise reasons you chose the ObGyn specialty and, more importantly, why you chose the specific residency program for which you are interviewing. In addition to matching professionally with the program, decision makers want to know whether you will be happy in a place where you will be living for at least four years and possibly longer, as there is evidence to show that physicians tend to stay close to where they train. Your response to this question should be clear and brief: you will want to make it easy for program directors to recall your answer.
Sample answer: ObGyn is the only specialty in which you can provide outpatient care one minute and surgery the next. You combine the roles of a primary care physician and specialist. Some ObGyns pick a more specific field, such as perinatal medicine, infertility, family planning, uro-gynecology, or oncology. I may eventually go that route, but the main reason I wish to do my residency here is for exposure to all those areas in a large facility.
In particular, I am interested in potentially becoming an ObGyn hospitalist, and you have the best training for this role in the region. Based on my versatility during my clerkships, I may feel more fulfilled as a hospitalist. More importantly, perhaps, I really want to live and practice in Maryland, as I have deep roots in the community here. I would be willing to accept a residency elsewhere if it was the right professional decision, but I don’t see any reason to look farther afield with the quality of the options available to me here at home.
Learn how to prepare for residency application with this infographic:
Tell Me About Yourself
What is being asked?
is always a challenge. Program directors will be interested in learning more about your background than is contained in your resume. You should have a succinct narrative prepared that describes your trajectory and how it led you to a career in medicine. A good strategy is to tell your story chronologically, as it will help keep you on track and will be easy for the listener to follow. Highlight major events, rather than detailing your CV, which the interviewers have already read. Choose any salient experiences beforehand that you wish to emphasize.
Sample answer: As a child, I witnessed the birth of at least fifty babies. If you asked me to, I might be able to name almost all of them! My mother is a midwife, and so is her sister. If the baby wasn’t born in my house, then it happened at my aunt’s, or while I was being dragged along by my mother on her rounds. There were just the three of us. We lived in a two-bedroom apartment, my mother and me, and my aunt lived in the guest house behind us. She had a large ensuite there, with a massive massage tub. So, you could definitely say that I am somewhat predisposed to ObGyn.
However, my relatives didn’t encourage me to go into the field, or even into medicine. They were actually kind of surprised that I wasn’t fed up with it. What they did insist I do was go to college – in any discipline I chose – but one that I could succeed and thrive in. They wanted me to have an easier life than they had had, a higher income, and more opportunities.
My path had been laid a long time ago, however. Holding a newborn baby is always a tremendous privilege and joy, but my mother didn’t hide the reality of giving birth from me. If someone got into trouble, I might be expected to leave the room, but she always explained what had happened afterward. She never lost a single patient, she never had to call for help, yet she taught me the value of humility and the weight of the responsibility she shouldered by always reminding me that she would have called the doctor if it was necessary. She had so much respect for mothers and so much respect for doctors – and I wanted to be just like her, and just the person she might call in an emergency.
How Have You Handled Adversity?
What is being asked?
Programs are looking for residents who are resilient and who will thrive during the four or five years they are in place. Failure and ambiguity are inherent in residency training. The ability to persevere in the face of setbacks can give interviewers important information about your suitability for their program. When asked about failure, don’t focus on that; rather, briefly describe the event, then discuss why you found it challenging and how you responded. In addition, you can mention your go-to coping mechanisms as part of your answer. List a few ways you maintain your well-being in difficult circumstances.
Sample answer: Life after medical school in Kabul will never be the same for me. As part of our training and our contribution to the war effort, we accompanied paramedics into dangerous situations to treat the injured onsite. The circumstances were often horrific, and sometimes we couldn’t help everyone. We would do our best to work as quickly as possible, so that we could transport patients to the ED and get out of the zone. We mostly arrived in the aftermath, but on some occasions, the shooting or bombing would start up again.
As students, we had strict instructions to follow the directives of our team leader, who was usually military, not medical. It was easier when the supervisor was an army doctor – easier to follow their orders because you knew they were basically always right. They would make the best medical decisions while protecting everyone in the zone.
However, one day I was caught up in a bad situation. The physician I was with, along with other students, was attending to numerous injured. I was told to stop what I was doing and check the other rooms in the building for more wounded. However, I knew the physician had not heard our officer’s order to stay put. Watching him struggle to stop the bleeding in one patient, I decided he was too busy to listen to me, so I went out into the hall and checked a few more rooms. As I passed a window, the enemy outside saw me and started shooting again. I was almost killed, but what was worse, I knew my team members a few doors down would have had to stop working.
This experience will stay with me for the rest of my days, even if no one died as a result of my error. However, what I learned is that whatever the situation, if you have information that can benefit a physician, even if you are unsure of it, or they appear too busy to talk to you, it’s essential to speak up. As doctors, we have to put our fears aside and use our brains to make judgment calls very quickly. Even as specialists, it’s possible that someone else on the team has more information, and we should always be ready to change course if their knowledge surpasses our own, whether it be in surgery or in an intervention outside the hospital where professionals in a different field are better qualified to assess the situation.
Since my time in Afghanistan, I’ve participated in therapy groups for PTSD. I have not been diagnosed with this disorder or experienced major symptoms, but I do this as a preventative measure to keep my mind well. Just being with other young people from war-torn regions, in a peaceful setting, is healing. So too is the idea of helping women bring children into the world. I would return as a physician to serve wherever I am most needed, but ObGyn is a field that brings me pure joy.
What Do You Prioritize in Your Work in Obgyn: Knowledge, Insight, Ethics, or Dexterity?
What is being asked?
Every program will ask a question that tests your ability to set priorities in your work life. There are many different ways to phrase the question. Program directors will be looking for someone who is not overly bureaucratic, dependent on a straightforward schedule, or focused on binary choices. Management of your professional life must be seen as appropriate for the reality of the situation, regardless of available time or resources.
Sample answer: The patient’s condition continues beyond my shift, and each patient is different. So, the time I would allocate to various tasks would depend on the number of patients, their status, the availability of complementary resources, and so on. Whether they be ObGyn or other, medical difficulties do not present as an orderly series that can be prioritized; rather, they tend to appear all at once, and you have to be flexible.
For instance, during rounds, if I need more information on a patient’s medical condition, it will become my priority to look it up. On the other hand, if I am familiar with the condition and the patient is currently experiencing pain, alleviating their pain will be my focus. At the same time, I might adjust the frequency of my rounds based on the severity of the patients’ illnesses. Ethics is omnipresent, so it factors into every decision.
To answer your question, then, I would use my knowledge and insights to make decisions that best serve each patient and respect their autonomy as part of my ethical responsibility. I would endeavor, in all cases, to act in a timely manner and to ensure the patient’s well-being and safety while I seek more comprehensive answers, should the case require them.
What Has Been Your Biggest Ethical Challenge in Medicine?
What is being asked?
Here, the interviewer truly wants to know how you handled your most difficult challenge. Your response should demonstrate that you are aware of what is ethically correct and incorrect and that you know when to intervene and how. It should also show that you understand that the patient comes first in the patient–physician relationship, but that you are never obliged to breach your code of ethics to meet their needs. Ethical questions can also involve physicians or peers, or even a situation outside the medical profession. What’s important is to give an example that allows you to thoroughly explain your understanding of ethical dilemmas.
Sample answer: During an internship, I once saw another student taking medical equipment from the facility and putting it in their backpack. When they noticed me watching, they came over and said they wanted to practice a clinical procedure and not to tell anyone. I said I couldn’t do that. I might have assumed they had permission to take the equipment, but their instruction to keep quiet about it set me on edge. I urged them to consider the danger of their actions and suggested that if they needed help understanding a procedure, we could go together to request a supervised demonstration or study the problem on our own time. I asked them to replace the equipment, but they ignored me and just left. Unfortunately, I then felt obliged to approach a faculty member and report the situation.
I made this decision due to the risk of the student harming themselves or someone else by practicing in an unsupervised setting. I also knew that taking equipment was a serious breach of ethics and could result in a dangerous shortage if the equipment was needed for a patient. I knew the student’s actions went against the professional standards of a physician, and if I did not act, I myself could be penalized or face suspension.
This was a difficult situation because I didn’t have much information and knew the student might react badly, whatever I did. However, ultimately, I decided that the risks for the teaching hospital, our school, and the patients outweighed any concerns I had about confronting the student or seeking assistance from a higher authority.
It is hoped that these examples give you a good idea of how to approach your ObGyn residency interview. By showing off your unique qualities as a person and as a physician, you will present yourself as a great match for your chosen residency.
1. What is the single most important trait for an ObGyn resident?
Clearly, there are many traits and skills that a good physician must possess; however, if we had to pick one it would be your ability to respect your patient’s autonomy. This is especially important in the ObGyn context, where patients make highly personal decisions affecting both themselves and their families.
2. How important is the residency interview?
Your residency interview is the most important step yet in your medical career. It gives you an opportunity to interact with the program directors and explain why you want to pursue your chosen specialty. Your residency interview will either convince decision makers that you are a great match for their program or change their minds about you and make them decide to go with someone else.
3. What can I do to stand out in my ObGyn residency interview?
Prepare thoroughly, know your application and CV, be well rested, dress impeccably, take your time, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Show your authentic self, and remember that you are seeking a good match, not admission to a program at all costs. Base your answers on anecdotes and concrete examples.
4. How do I prepare for my ObGyn residency interview?
5. Should I discuss failures or weaknesses in my ObGyn residency interview?
You will likely be asked at least one question in your interview about a time that you experienced failure or a setback. Knowing this, it’s best to have a situation in mind that you can discuss. Everyone experiences adversity at some point, and everyone, even doctors, makes mistakes. However, once you have described the situation, be sure to accept responsibility for your error and explain what you learned and how you improved as a result of your missteps.
6. How competitive is ObGyn as a specialty?
ObGyn is a moderately competitive specialty.
7. What are residency programs looking for in candidates?
Residency programs perform a holistic review of all applications with the main goal of selecting individuals who are aligned with their mission, vision, and values.
8. When can I expect to know if I have been invited for an interview?
Interviews in the US associated with ERAS will be held in November. In Canada, CaRMS interviews will take place during the last three weeks of January.