Acing Your Interviews: Part One

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Posted by IMGPrep Team from IP on December 19, 2010 at 14:10:54:

The Right Response

While a successful interview can make the difference in your obtaining that prestigious residency slot, skillfully fielding all the interviewer’s questions can prove to be a difficult task. Program directors can ask difficult questions; it’s your responsibility to come to the interview with all of your answers –even to the stickiest questions! –at the ready.

To help you navigate these tricky waters, we’ve prepared a list of some of the more challenging questions that an interviewer may pose –along with IMGPrep’s recommended responses. We hope that these tips help you obtain the residency of your dreams!

1. “Please explain this two-year gap on your CV.”

Program directors do not like seeing gaps on an applicant’s CV ---but with skillful explanation on your part, you can turn this liability into an asset. Be familiar with your background; you should be able to address the interviewer’s concerns immediately, without having to pause to collect your thoughts. Explain how you utilized that time period to strengthen your skills and make yourself a stronger candidate.

You may say, “I have a two-year gap on my CV immediately following my move to the United States. I wanted to make myself a strong residency candidate, and wanted to prepare myself for the U.S. medical system. I spent much of that time studying for my USMLE exams. To ensure that my medical knowledge remained current, I read medical journals and joined Medscape. My volunteer work in a local hospital helped me get acquainted with the US medical system, and allowed me to learn how to relate to patients in this culture.”

2. “Why should I accept you to my program instead of any other applicant?”

While your ultimate goal should be to convince the program director to choose you instead of another candidate, don’t fall into the trap of badmouthing other candidates’ credentials. Comments like, “Well, many applicants have multiple attempts at the USMLE, whereas I passed on my first attempt,” or “A lot of IMGs just don’t have the U.S. clinical experience that I do and are not really prepared for a U.S. residency,” will make you sound petty.

Instead, tell the program director, “I am not familiar with your other applicants and it would be inappropriate for me to discuss their credentials without first hand knowledge. I can, however, tell you what makes me such a strong candidate for your program. I am a hard worker with a solid base of medical knowledge: I passed all of my USMLEs on the first attempt. I also understand the importance of acclimating to a new medical system and have had extensive hands on U.S. clinical experience, which has familiarized me with the American culture and healthcare system.”

3. “If you don’t Match anywhere, and don’t match during the Scramble, what are your plans?”

Most people don’t like when others seem to accuse them of failure, and many applicants are put off by this question. It is nevertheless important to be prepared for an interviewer to challenge you; show him that you have considered all eventualities, and are prepared to do whatever it takes to succeed.

Try this, “I am confident that I will succeed. So far, my goals have been to pass my USMLEs, apply through ERAS, and obtain interviews for residency programs, and I have met all of these goals. I am confident that I will succeed in matching at a strong residency program. If I don’t match this year, I will reassess my application, find my weak spots, and strengthen them, so that I will be a better candidate next year.”

Nervous about fielding all your interviewer’s questions? We can help! Visit our website at to learn more about our exclusive interview coaching packages.

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