When you are engaging in your medical residency interview prep, taking a close look at some pediatric residency interview questions will help you formulate your own answers should those questions come up.

We have compiled a list of common pediatric residency interview questions for your perusal. These sample questions and answers will give you a good starting point for learning how to answer any residency interview questions. We also provide you with medical residency interview tips on how to answer and what is really being asked.

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Article Contents
10 min read

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

Top Questions

What Is It About Our Program That Interests You?

What is being asked?

This question is asking you to show why you match perfectly with the program. This means that you should mention specific details about the program and connect those details back to yourself. You need to show that you have put thought into the particular program to which you are applying.

Variants of this question

  • Why did you choose our program?
  • What is it about our program that appeals to you?

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

Sample answer

I want to do my residency here because of the values that you hold, the research being done here, and because I believe that I can bring something unique and valuable to your program.

Your mission statement indicates that this is a patient-oriented program, and patient-centered care is my primary philosophy as a physician. They are the reason I became a doctor and the purpose of this vocation.

Although you do center your patients, you also have robust research initiatives. While I seek to serve my patients’ immediate needs first, I also recognize that the best way to help future generations of patients is by keeping the cutting edge sharp, which means participating in research. Your research into early childhood health care is revolutionizing how we treat infants, and I believe it will have a huge impact. In medical school, research was one of my favorite areas, and I participated in three separate studies, two of which were concerned with pediatric medicine. These studies made me see the intrinsic necessity of advancing research and gave me experience working with children.

Because I hold the same values – patient-centered care and a big-picture understanding of the future of health care – I believe that I will line up with the program perfectly. I have always kept people at the heart of my medical studies, remembering that they are the ones I want to heal. This is particularly important with pediatrics, which is a field in which the patients are especially helpless. In terms of big-picture thinking, I know that I embody this and consider it central to pediatrics as well, because a doctor treats children but must also care for their families in difficult times.

I have the qualities you need, and you have an environment in which I will excel.

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

Tell Us About Yourself

What is being asked?

While all questions in a medical residency interview connect to why you will be a perfect fit for the program and specialty which you have chosen, any variations on the “tell me about yourself” question are specifically asking you to reveal something about yourself that indicates how you, individually, will be the ideal candidate for residency. While you don’t need to specifically mention your specialty or the program in your answer, your answer should show off why you will be one of the best choices for a match.

Variants of this question

  • Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
  • What kind of a person are you?
  • Tell us about who you are.

Sample Answer

My multi-cultural family has given me a lot of insight into the world, and I carry its lessons with me to this day. We grew up in ways that my peers did not, partly because we were forced to. Having a multi-cultural family does mean being exposed to elements of prejudice that many people simply do not encounter until they are older.

However, I was taught through this to always show my own love and respect, even in the face of adversity, and I developed a lot of resilience and endurance. These qualities served me well when I was growing up and trying to become the best person that I could possibly be. Without endurance, how would I have been able to study for as long as I did? How else could I have practiced as hard as I did in band?

I think my resilience is the trait I am the proudest of in myself. It has shaped me into a better person than I would have become if I did not possess the stamina and thick skin necessary to succeed. Furthermore, it taught me patience, which, in turn, let me understand more about the world just by waiting and taking the time to get to know it.

Ultimately, I believe in personal strength and accountability, and I try to cultivate those values in myself, just as I respect them in others. Any time I have let myself down, it is always because I did not live up to those standards, and whenever I have made amends, it is thanks to those ideals.

Why Did You Choose Pediatrics?

What is being asked?

The interviewer is asking you to articulate your connection to your choice residency, and you need to give an answer that goes deep. Your reasons for selecting your specialty should speak to how important it is for you, how long you have had this connection, or how perfect you are for the role.

Don’t assume that you need to start off with the phrase, “Ever since I was little, I always wanted to be a pediatrician,” because you don’t. Some people arrive at the conclusion that they are meant to enter a particular field fairly late in life. That’s okay, but that epiphany needs to be communicated to the interviewer(s).

Variants of this question

  • What brought you to this specialty?
  • Why do you want to be a pediatrician?
  • Why are you perfect for this specialty?

Sample answer

I was doing a rotation at a family clinic – a very small clinic in a small town just outside of the city where my school is. While I was there, a mother brought in a sick child who was feverish, lethargic, and had been throwing up all morning. I was doing the initial history-taking while Dr. Smith was wrapping up with another patient. In the middle of the session, the child vomited all over my leg. I just grabbed some paper towel, cleaned myself off, and made sure the child was okay. That was my final confirmation that I was meant to be a pediatrician. If I could take that vomit without missing a beat, I could be valuable here.

This was not a snap decision based on one incident; I had been considering pediatrics for some time already. I saved up for college with babysitting money, so I already had a fair amount of experience with young kids and knew I really enjoyed working with them and caring for them.

In medical school, pediatric medicine was fascinating and engaging, and whenever I encountered young patients, I always got a real sense of purpose by helping them.

Before deciding to be a doctor, I did briefly consider working in early childhood education. My choice came down to family medicine or pediatrics, but I think my best work, my most satisfying work, and the work where I can make the best difference is in pediatric medicine.

Tell Me About a Time You Failed

What is being asked?

This is not a deceptive question, but it’s also not a straightforward one. The interviewer isn’t just asking you to relate a failure; they are far more interested in what happened next. How did you deal with the failure? What lessons did you learn? How did you correct your course? This could be a failing in any sense, provided you can explain how you came back from your mistake and grew as a person because of it.

Variants of this question

  • How do you deal with difficulty?
  • Give us an example of a time when you had to deal with a problem you caused.
  • Can you tell us about a time you turned a failure into a success?

Sample answer

There was a time when I had a friend message me for help with their studies. This was back in college and this person just wanted a study buddy, basically, because he didn’t have the best study habits. I agreed to help him, and then I did what a lot of people do, which is I got busy. I was wrapped up in my own tests and social life and I just forgot to set up a study date. He messaged me again, and I didn’t reply for a while, and then I got embarrassed that I had forgotten to message him back.

This kept up for a long time – a couple of weeks – and then I ran into him. He asked me if I was okay, and I had the opportunity to make up a story to explain why I hadn’t messaged him back. I knew that wouldn’t be right, though, so I took my lumps. I just told him exactly what had happened and apologized for letting him down.

It was difficult to say that face-to-face to him, but I am glad that I did. I feel a lot more honest this way, and even though it meant losing some reputation with my friend, I think our friendship ultimately got stronger because of it.

I corrected my failing by immediately setting up a study schedule with my friend, and then I prevented myself from falling into this trap again by implementing a reply system. I used email inbox notifications to remind me of any messages I had read but not replied to within 24 hours. This app has helped me keep on top of my messaging and scheduling.

If You Couldn’t Be in Pediatrics, Where Would You Go?

What is being asked?

This is a fairly straightforward question, but you should not just answer with the name of the other discipline. Go into why you would pick a different specialty, not just what that specialty is. Your interviewer is looking to get an oblique viewpoint on your choices. Your answer should therefore also hint at why you ultimately chose pediatrics. Why you didn’t select the other discipline is another piece of insight your interviewer will want to have.

Variants of this question

  • Did you consider other specialties?
  • What other kinds of residencies have you applied to?
  • If you don’t match with pediatrics, what would you like to match with?

Sample answer

I was very careful in selecting my residency options, and I seriously considered a lot of specialties before concluding that pediatrics was the best fit for my future career. Psychiatry held a lot of appeal for me, as did family medicine, but I ultimately decided against either of those disciplines.

The appeal of psychiatry was because I tested well with patient interaction. I have always had a good rapport with patients, even with very uncooperative ones. The fact of the matter is that this is also a skill I can use well in pediatrics. I have also enjoyed helping vulnerable patients, which is applicable to pediatrics. Because of this, if I was not going into pediatrics, I would likely enter psychiatry.

Family medicine also appealed, but I found that my most rewarding and fulfilling encounters in family medicine rotations were with children.

At the end of my journey through medicine, I believe that my motivations for first wanting to be a physician are all related to helping people who are vulnerable and need help. While this describes many patients, I will encounter this on a deep level in pediatrics.

My skillset lends itself well to pediatrics, and although I could find myself quite happy in either psychiatry or family medicine – I won’t pretend like I wouldn’t – I feel most comfortable in pediatrics. Working with children makes me happy, and even when the job gets tough, I am helped through my day just knowing that I am making a difference in a child’s life.

A Short List of Other Common or Potential Pediatric Residency Interview Questions

General Tips on Answering Pediatric Residency Interview Questions

Speaking more generally, all answers must connect back to matching you with your top-choice program. Always make sure that a peripheral connection is felt. This might mean bringing up the qualities in yourself most connected to the residency, highlighting your experience in the field, or talking about the residency itself. Always be prepared to make a link between yourself and their program.

Specifically, with a pediatrics residency, you will want to highlight any experiences you have with early childhood care, health care, or otherwise. You will also want to show off traits like patience, empathy, and excellent communication skills – particularly with children.

You can hone your technique through study, practice, and use of a residency interview prep book; however, the best way to move forward is with a residency mock interview. Mock interviews perfectly prepare you by simulating the exact conditions for your actual interview. This allows you to get professional feedback on a duplicate interview with real questions and answers in real time.


You are now armed with all the information you need to succeed in your pediatric residency interview, and it is up to you to apply it. Application comes with practice, whether by yourself or through a residency mock interview, which will help you train for all potential conditions, including timing, stress levels, and questions.

Reading these sample answers to common questions will also show you what you need to know about structure and about communicating how great a match you are with your program of choice. Use the questions provided to think up your own answers and practice them, and practice answers to other potential questions as well.


1. How long should my answers take?

About 2–3 minutes is perfect for most questions, although some might take more or less time.

2. Can I memorize answers to these questions?

You shouldn’t. Memorized answers don’t sound natural. Study the content you want to talk about – skills, experiences, personality traits, and your story – and go to that rich well whenever you are formulating an answer.

3. Should I talk about medicine or residency in all my answers?

You shouldn’t, particularly on questions that steer you away from academics or career goals. Always highlight qualities that make you an ideal candidate, of course, but you don’t need to always speak of medicine.

4. Is interview preparation different based on format?

Not the broad picture. Certain elements change. For instance, if you are in a virtual interview, you should check your equipment and connection the day before your interview. If it is in person, you should practice driving the route to the interview location prior to your interview. But your study focus is the same.

5. What is proper attire for an interview?

Business-casual will work, keeping you comfortable and making you look professional.

6. Should I take notes during the interview?

You probably won’t need to. Focus on giving excellent answers, not writing down what’s going on. With that said, you can jot down notes if you want, as long as your pad is unobtrusive.

7. What are interview red flags?

Avoid coming across as impersonal, arrogant, aloof, bored, or mean – any negative traits, really. You should never gossip or badmouth other programs or students. You should also show up on time, dress appropriately, and be well prepared.

8. Are interviews important?

All elements of an application count for something, and the interview is your first face-to-face meeting with the people who will determine your future. Yes, it’s important.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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