Coming up with answers to radiology residency interview questions on the fly will be difficult. With preparation it will be a lot easier, and readying yourself for your interview is certainly an important part of how to prepare for residency applications.

Of course, considering residency match services is a good idea as well, but if you are specifically concerned with your radiology interview, reviewing sample radiology interview questions and answers should be the first step in your prep strategy!

We present here several common interview questions and how to answer them as a radiology resident hopeful. This will give you a good idea of how to approach some of the more common questions you are likely to be asked during your residency interview.

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Article Contents
9 min read

Why radiology? Tell us about yourself? Have you ever had a significant failure or setback? How did you handle it, and what did you learn from the experience? Do you have any hobbies? How did you choose the residency program you applied to? What made you choose our program? Do you have any questions for us? FAQs

Why radiology?

What is being asked here?

This may be an obvious question, but make sure that you understand that the program director and the committee are trying to gauge whether you are truly suitable to this specialty. Many medical students have a hard time with how to choose a medical specialty, and therefore the program director must be certain that you took the necessary step to prepare yourself for one of the most competitive residencies out there. Thus, make sure to show, rather than tell, what experiences and skills you acquired throughout your time in medical school that made you ready for radiology.

Sample answer:

Thank you for asking me this important question.

My interest in radiology actually started on my fourteenth birthday when I was given a camera. I had long been fascinated by photography and my parents wanted to let me pursue my hobby. This wasn’t an iPhone type camera, this was an entry-level professional camera, and I started snapping photographs everywhere I went.

The detail of photographs always intrigued me, and this is where I really started to find my way to this specialization. That might sound strange, but when I was studying to become a physician, I found that my personal passion and my professional life had this wonderful intersecting point.

The experience I gained in photography has given me a good eye, and I have an aptitude for this discipline.

In medical school, I remember quickly being able to understand whatever was being shown through radiology. Images which were almost opaque to other students were transparent to me. I think some of this was my background in photography, but whatever the reason, I found I was able to quickly interpret images.

That led me to a radiology clerkship, and I felt like my love of medicine and my love of photography had come together. The discipline is hard, certainly, I don’t want to pretend that it all comes easily to me, but my passion for the field make struggling easier to get through, when it does happen.

My first day on shift in radiology, I felt like I was home, and I quickly began to grasp the work and embrace it.

In short, I love the work, and I have experience in the field.

Tell us about yourself?

What is being asked here?

One of the most common questions asked in any interview is this open-ended juggernaut: tell me about yourself. The program interview committee want to know how you will fit in with the specialization you have selected, the teams you will be on, and the program to which you are applying. They also would like to see a well-rounded human being who isn’t only ever concentrating on medicine, studies, academics, and work.

Sample answer:

I was an only child, and I grew up in several places in the country because my dad is in the military, and that means we moved around a lot. When I was growing up, I thought that was what I wanted to do as well, was to serve in the military, but that changed dramatically when I was twelve.

Every year we took a camping trip, and on this particular trip, my dad slipped on some rocks while swimming. He wiped out, cracked his head, and knocked himself out. Seemingly out of nowhere from down the beach came this running guy, who it turns out was a doctor. Without his first aid, my dad might have suffered far worse injuries.

As it stood, he recovered, and as he did so, I witnessed firsthand the efficacy of the medical team, and I thought, “I want to be one of them.”

Medical school was difficult for me. I am very grateful for my family’s military background. Although dad could be strict, he certainly gave me the discipline I needed to focus on my studies, even when they were at their toughest.

I focused at first on emergency medicine, because of my dad’s accident, but I wanted to know more about the internal aspect of medicine and studied radiology. I thought it would be all fractures and “spot the tumor”, but I was wrong! There’s so much more to the radiology world. I found myself mesmerized by the imaging, and the multitude of ways it could be used.

I took extra classes in the field, and my clerkship in radiology. I have even started researching and learning about the inner workings of the equipment and systems used so I can gain better insight into this amazing facet of medicine.

Have you ever had a significant failure or setback? How did you handle it, and what did you learn from the experience?

What is being asked here?

The application committee is looking to see growth. Can you acknowledge a failure? Can you move on? Can you improve? Those are crucial qualities in any profession, but particularly for a physician. Medicine comes with big risks, and sometimes failure comes with those risks. Things don’t always go the way we want them to. It’s inevitable that you will make a mistake or have a bad day. So, since it’s inevitable, the only real question is: how will you handle yourself?

Sample answer:

I flunked a test my second year of university. I had developed bad study habits and was spending too much of my time just goofing off and not taking my schooling seriously. I wound up failing math and needing to retake it in a summer semester.

I didn’t even know how to tell my parents. It was a real wake-up call for me. I was mortified. I finally told them, got lectured, and I spent a really miserable summer in a make-up math class. But while I was there, day one, the teacher told us, “None of you want to be here, but this is a great opportunity, because the real lesson here has nothing to do with numbers. If you choose, this will be the last time this ever happens.” He was right, and it was.

Not only did I revise my studying schedule to keep myself on-track – through the use of some great apps to track progress and plan sessions – I also discovered a new love of math. The next year, I started in on advanced math – statistics and calculous – and I used my newfound studying techniques to get better grades there than in any other class.

Do you have any hobbies?

What is being asked here?

You are being given an opportunity to show a different set of qualities. This is the side of you that isn’t all work and study – this is your time to stand out! You can showcase your creativity and passions. Remember: these hobbies will still speak to your character and potential as a candidate for the position, so don’t blow off a question like this. Your answer here should be just as thoughtful as the other answers you present. Talk about a hobby of yours that is interesting and unique.

Sample answer:

Painting has been a way for me to calm myself and focus. It has almost become a form of meditation, frankly. I love to get lost in a world of pigments, whether I’m doing a still-life or something more abstract.

My favorite subject to paint, however, is a person. I love doing portraits, of friends, family, or strangers, if they’ll let me. I love people, which influenced my decision in wanting to help them, medically.

Have you ever looked so closely at a person’s eye that you can see the hundreds of colors that compose the iris? I have, and that detail-orientation is another element of painting that I love.

Getting in close and finding every nuance to a person is something that I have honed in my hobby and applied in my academic life; in fact, the importance of attention to detail is one of the reasons I applied to radiology.

Are you preparing for your residency interview? Here's an infographic that shows what are the best residency interview questions that you need to know:

How did you choose the residency program you applied to?

What is being asked here?

Your interviewers know you applied to other residency programs. It is common for students to wonder how many residency programs to apply to, and it’s different for every candidate, but the average student will apply to anywhere from 15 to 35 programs in a cycle. Your program directors know this. 

What they are really asking you here is to showcase what is valuable to you in a program and whether you two will be a good fit.

Sample answer:

All of the programs that I selected hold similar structures and goals. While each one is unique in its own way, all are different paths I could see myself taking to becoming a radiologist. I selected the West General Hospital, for instance, because I could see myself advancing with their radiology department and because I have friends in that city. However, I prefer your program because your hospital because you are on record as seeking to advance the field and are researching new methods of imaging which I find very exciting.

I prioritized my programs based on several things. My highest priority was research opportunities, which is why your program went to the top of the list since you have a plethora of exciting research being conducted at your hospital. My second priority is world-class facilities, and again, this is why I selected your program. Third is proximity to family. Although my immediate family live far from this city, I do have an aunt and uncle who live near here, and so your program appeals to me on that basis as well.

What made you choose our program?

What is being asked here?

The admissions committee want to make sure that you are a good fit by making sure that you understand what makes their program great, unique, and valuable to you, personally.

Sample answer:

Thank you for asking this question. Making sure I was applying to the right program was a question of finding a residency that matched my goals and my personal values. I believe that your program has both of these aspects.

The residents at this hospital whom I have spoken to have all mentioned that teamwork is vital here. It is emphasized over and over again, and comes up – usually first – in any list of qualities of this program. I find that very encouraging because I am a “people person” and I find I do my best work in a group.

One of the reasons I so enjoyed radiology lab, was because I had a lab partner whom I could rely on; I also very much like being somebody who can be relied upon. Our last assignment in the lab, I knew that my partner was running late, so I made sure to set up their half of the work station so they could come in and get right to work, optimizing time for both of us – for example.

Furthermore, I know that your lab also comes highly recommended. A rural hospital, such as yours, might not have all the latest gizmos and gadgets, but the laboratory scientists are highly-regarded, and I think I can learn a lot from them.

So, for those reasons I thought that your program was the best fit for me.

Want to know how to ace residency interview? Watch this video:

Do you have any questions for us?

What is being asked here?

Insightful people ask insightful questions. They might be asking just to see what you might want to know. Mostly they will genuinely want to answer any questions you actually do have about the program.

Questions to avoid will be those easily-answered or somewhat superficial to your residency. Questions about how sick days work, for instance, aren’t something that should be pressing on your mind, and might cause the admissions committee to wonder about your primary motivations for applying to their residency.

Obviously, each interview might yield different questions, but below, we provide several examples of questions which will be the perfect punctuation on your excellent interview.


1. Does every answer I give need to talk about radiology?

To some extent, yes. It’s always a good idea to tie your answer back to why you want to work in radiology specifically.

You do need to keep in mind the traits that a great radiologist will have and put at least one of those into every answer. Some questions will be more general than others, so you can answer more generally, but always showcasing your aptness for the discipline ahead of you.

Some questions are “fun” questions, too, like, “If you were a kitchen appliance, which one would you be?” Those are designed to test your outside-the-box thinking, maybe allow a more playful answer – you won’t be docked “points” for not directly connecting that to radiology. Although, you might want to say, “Microwave.”

2. How long should my answers be?

Long enough to deliver the detail you need. This will typically work out to anywhere from 30 seconds to two minutes, but it does depend on the question.

Open-ended questions like, “Why did you choose radiology?” or, “Tell us about yourself?” will bring about a longer answer, just because it takes longer to speak to a large topic – like the life you have led up until now or your choice of future career.

Other questions will have shorter answers.

The main thing is to answer the question directly, honestly, in such a way that you showcase your qualities and your fit for the residency, and without adding or padding the answer with extraneous detail.

3. Should I memorize my answers?

Absolutely not. Memorized answers come across as stiff and impersonal. Strictly memorizing will also limit your mind in the moment. What if they ask a slight variant on one of the questions you’ve anticipated? Your answer’s memorized form won’t quite fit and you’ll stumble over retroactively refitting the response. What if they ask a question you didn’t anticipate and suddenly you’ve got nothing to say?

Best to rehearse, but not memorize. Know what you’ll talk about and how you’ll talk about it, but not the exact words. That will keep you on-target and your mind flexible in the room.

4. What do I do with my hands?

Do not fidget. Keep your hands on your knees, the arms of your chair, or in your lap while you speak.

5. What if I freeze up?

The best cure is prevention: prepare well and you’ll have the confidence necessary where this shouldn’t happen.

If you do wind up drawing a blank, take a breath in and out, concentrate on the question, and think back to your preparation.

6. Is there anything I should avoid talking about?

Anything without a point.

Your goal is to show why you, specifically, are the perfect person for this position. Every answer should get you closer to that goal. Anything that does that is on the table.

Avoid bragging or just listing your accomplishments or admirable personality traits without context or without demonstration.

Never tell them about a failure or shortcoming without an explanation of how you have grown since identifying this problem and what you are doing to move past it.

Never lie or dodge a question.

7. What else should I do to prepare for my interview?

Everything you do in an interview is fairly standard. Dress nicely – casual-dress – be polite, and be on time. This will mean triple-checking your route and leaving early. If you have a virtual interview, make sure the application you’re going to use works the day before the interview.

Your best way to prepare for an interview is with a mock interview. A mock interview, conducted by professionals, will give you a good resemblance of what the day will actually be like, and will give you a great place to practice your answers and receive invaluable feedback on how to improve. Plus, make a list of the best questions to ask residency programs so you can learn more about a program.

8. How do I handle nerves?

If you’re nervous, keep one key thought in mind: nobody in that room wants you to fail. The committee loves seeing passionate students who will be the perfect fit. You’re confident of that, so go in knowing that you have what they’re looking for.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting

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