120+ Residency Interview Questions and Sample Answers

May 8, 2024
8 min read


Reviewed by:

Luke Hartstein

Former Admissions Committee Member, NYU Grossman School of Medicine

Reviewed: 5/8/24

Having a long list of residency interview questions can be a game-changer. Keep reading to up your interview game.

Are you getting ready for your residency interviews? Congrats on this big step in your medical journey. As you get ready to meet with potential programs and speak to your qualifications, it's important to have solid answers prepared for a variety of interview questions.

To help you get ready, we've put together a long list of over 120 residency interview questions with sample answers. We'll organize them into different categories to cover various aspects of your candidacy as a medical resident, from general questions to more detailed questions and the ones that are often asked.

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General Residency Interview Questions 

These questions are meant to get to know you better as a person and assess how well you fit into the residency program. They help the interviewers understand your motivations and personality. Here are some examples:

1. What is the structure of the residency?

2. What is the pay scale?

3. What health-care benefits are available?

4. What is the vacation schedule for residents?

5. What is the call schedule?

6. What sort of housing is available?

7. What other provisions are made by the hospital?

8. What leisure activities are available in (the name of the city/town)?

9. How can I learn more about the Department?

10. What is the educational philosophy of this residency program?

11. What is the cultural profile of (name of hospital)'s service population?

12. What are the strengths of this residency program?

13. What are the weaknesses of this program?

14. (Hospital name) is a (religious denomination) organization. Does that impact the residents' experience in women's health?

15. What is the percentage of graduates from this residency program that go into fellowships, instead of practice?

16. How many full- and part-time faculty members are there?

17. How many of them are board-certified or board eligible?

18. What are their specialties?

19. Does the program pay for resident memberships in professional organizations? If so, which ones?

20. How much time do residents spend receiving systematic instruction (didactics)? Is there an outpatient clinic? If so, how many days/hours do residents spend there?

21. Are residents in this program expected to assist in the teaching of medical students?

22. How does the program support residents' research interests?

23. Are there opportunities for international medical experiences during the residency?

24. Can you provide details about the on-call facilities and accommodations for residents?

25. Is there a mentorship program for residents?

26. How does the program address resident wellness and burnout prevention?

27. Are there any specific community outreach or service opportunities for residents?

28. What are the options for elective rotations, and how are they chosen?

29. How does the program handle resident evaluations and feedback?

30. Are there opportunities for residents to become involved in hospital committees or leadership roles?

31. Can you share any recent achievements or notable accomplishments of the residency program?

32. What support is available for residents pursuing board certification?

33. How is diversity and inclusion promoted within the residency program?

34. Are residents encouraged to participate in quality improvement projects?

35. How does the program prepare residents for the transition to independent practice?

36. What is the program's approach to interdisciplinary collaboration with other healthcare professionals?

37. How does the program address any concerns or grievances raised by residents?

38. Are there opportunities for residents to attend national medical conferences?

39. Can you describe the relationship between residents and attending physicians?

40. How are resident schedules structured, and how do they accommodate work-life balance?

41. Does the program offer research or scholarly activity funding for residents?

42. Are there any specific clinical or academic partnerships with other institutions?

43. What is the program's approach to resident feedback and program improvement?

44. Can you provide information about the program's alumni network and their career paths?

45. What are the criteria for evaluating resident progress and advancement within the program?

46. How are resident presentations and publications supported and encouraged?

47. What is the program's stance on moonlighting or additional clinical work during residency?

48. Are there opportunities for residents to teach or mentor medical students?

49. How does the program prepare residents for the transition from residency to fellowship, if applicable?

50. What support is available for residents interested in entrepreneurship or healthcare innovation?

51. Can you describe any initiatives related to resident involvement in telemedicine or digital health?

52. How does the program promote diversity and inclusion within its resident cohort?

53. Are there opportunities for residents to engage in interprofessional education and training?

54. Can you provide details about resident involvement in quality improvement projects?

55. What is the program's policy on resident moonlighting or extracurricular clinical work?

56. How are conflicts among residents or between residents and faculty resolved within the program?

57. Are there opportunities for residents to engage in medical advocacy or policy initiatives?

58. How does the program prepare residents for the transition from residency to independent practice?

59. Can you provide details about the program's affiliation with specialty-specific societies or organizations?

60. How does the program address residents' research publication requirements, if applicable?

61. Are residents encouraged to pursue additional degrees or certifications during their residency?

62. How does the program assist residents with finding employment opportunities upon graduation?

63. Can you share examples of recent resident-led quality improvement projects?

64. What is the program's approach to addressing residents' work-related stress and burnout?

65. How are residents evaluated for their clinical competence and professionalism?

66. Are there opportunities for residents to participate in international medical missions or humanitarian efforts?

67. How does the program support residents' involvement in medical research or innovation?

In-Depth Questions During a Residency Interview

68. Where do rotations take place?

69. How large is the facility, and what types of patients are served?

70. Are residents required to do General Surgery at (name of the school); do they need to apply separately to the General Surgery Program, and what is the General Surgery Program like?

71. What types of cases are available?

72. How much involvement in patient care do residents experience?

73. Are there opportunities for attending scientific meetings?

74. Are laboratory research opportunities available?

75. What educational resources are available?

76. What conferences are held?

77. How do residents perform on Boards and in-service/in-training exams?

78. What is the vacation schedule for residents?

79. What is the call schedule?

80. What is the pay scale?

81. What health-care benefits are available?

82. What arrangements are available for meals on call?

83. What is the history of the Department, and what have former residents done upon completion of their residency?

84. What sort of housing is available?

85. What other provisions are made by the hospital?

86. What leisure activities are available in (the name of the city/town)?

87. How can I learn more about the Department?

88. What is the educational philosophy of this residency program?

89. Hospitals across the country are suffering extreme economic pressures; what is the assurance that (hospital name) remains economically healthy in the future?

90. What is the cultural profile of (name of hospital)'s service population?

91. How does the program support residents' engagement in quality improvement initiatives, and can you share any recent success stories in this regard?

92. Are there opportunities for residents to participate in multidisciplinary healthcare teams or specialized clinics?

93. Can you describe the program's approach to addressing resident-specific needs, such as those related to family support or career guidance?

94. How does the program encourage residents to maintain a work-life balance and manage the demands of residency effectively?

95. Can you provide information about the faculty-to-resident ratio and the accessibility of faculty members for mentorship and guidance?

96. How does the program support diversity and inclusion among its residents and faculty?

97. Are there opportunities for international medical graduates (IMGs) to apply, and what support is available to assist them in navigating the residency application process?

98. What is the program's approach to addressing resident wellness and mental health?

99. Can you describe any unique features or special tracks within the residency program, such as global health initiatives or research pathways?

100. How does the program prepare residents for the transition to independent practice or fellowship training?

101. Are there opportunities for residents to engage in community outreach or volunteer activities?

102. How does the program evaluate and provide feedback to residents on their clinical performance and professional development?

103. What support services are available for residents experiencing academic or personal challenges?

104. Can you share examples of recent resident-led quality improvement projects and their impact on patient care within the institution?

Top 10 Most Asked Residency Interview Questions (With Sample Answers)

Get ready for residency interviews with ease. Here are the top 10 questions and sample answers to help you shine in this crucial phase of your medical career.

1. What Do You Do for Fun?

"For fun, I enjoy rock climbing, which challenges me both mentally and physically, providing a great sense of accomplishment. It's not just about scaling cliffs; it's a metaphor for my approach to life and medicine. Rock climbing requires careful planning, problem-solving, and adaptability, qualities that I believe are essential in medicine. It's also a fantastic way for me to de-stress and recharge, allowing me to return to my work with renewed focus and energy." 

Why This Answer is Good?

This answer shows us a bit about who the candidate is and how they deal with problems in their personal life. They love rock climbing, but it's not just about the physical challenge—it's also a way for them to learn and grow. They mention problem-solving and adaptability, showing how these skills from their hobby can help them in their job as a doctor.

2. Why Should We Choose You? 

"You should choose me because my experience in underserved communities has equipped me with the skills needed to provide comprehensive care to diverse patient populations. During my time working in underserved areas, I've developed a deep understanding of cultural competency, effective communication, and the importance of addressing healthcare disparities. These experiences have instilled in me a strong commitment to equitable healthcare, which I am eager to bring to your program and apply in patient care."

Why This Answer is Good?

The candidate's experience in underserved communities shines through here, demonstrating their understanding of diverse patient needs and their commitment to equitable healthcare. It's a straightforward explanation of why they're a good fit for the role.

3. Do You Have Any Questions for Me? 

"I'm interested in your program's global health initiatives and mentorship opportunities in specific subspecialties. Could you provide more information? Understanding the global health efforts and mentorship programs in your institution will help me align my career goals with the opportunities your program offers, ensuring that I can contribute effectively and receive the guidance I need."

Why This Answer is Good?

The candidate's question about global health initiatives and mentorship programs shows they're keen on matching their career goals with what the program offers. It's a simple, direct way of showing they're thinking ahead about their role in the institution.

4. How Many Emails Are in Your Inbox?

"I typically keep fewer than 10 unread emails in my inbox to ensure efficient communication. I believe that staying organized and responsive to email communication is crucial in the medical field, as it ensures that I can quickly address patient concerns, collaborate with colleagues, and manage my responsibilities effectively." 

Why This Answer is Good?

This answer reflects the candidate's understanding of the importance of organization and efficient communication in the medical field, which is essential for managing patient care effectively. It's a simple statement that demonstrates their readiness for the responsibilities of the job.

5. When Was the Last Time You Got Mad?

"I recently faced a challenging patient case that initially left me feeling frustrated. However, I channeled my frustration into collaboration and research to reach a proper diagnosis. This experience reinforced my belief in the importance of maintaining composure and problem-solving skills in medicine, even in the face of complex and emotionally charged situations." 

Why This Answer is Good?

The candidate's response illustrates their ability to handle tough situations with composure and turn challenges into opportunities for growth, which is crucial in the medical profession. It flows smoothly, showing how they navigate difficult moments in their work.

6. Tell Us About Yourself.

"I'm a passionate neonatology enthusiast, sparked by a personal experience with my premature nephew at 'Hopeful Pediatrics Hospital.' During clinical rotations at 'Sunshine Medical Center,' I specialized in premature infant care and conducted research on delayed cord clamping in preterm infants, which I presented at Pediatric Research Symposium at The University of Michigan. My volunteer work at New Beginnings Clinic deepened my commitment to patient-centered care. I'm eager to contribute to  Rainbow Children's Hospital due to its excellent neonatology program and collaborative environment, aligning perfectly with my career goals."

Why This Answer is Good?

Here, the candidate neatly lays out their relevant experiences and reasons for wanting the position, making a strong argument for why they're a good fit. They smoothly move from talking about their personal background to discussing their career goals.

7. Why This Specialty?

"I'm drawn to neonatology due to its complexity and its potential to transform patients' lives. I thrive on the intellectual challenges it presents, as well as the opportunity to provide innovative and impactful solutions to medical issues. My passion for neonatology has only grown stronger with each clinical experience, and I am eager to dedicate my career to making a meaningful difference in this field." 

Why This Answer is Good?

The candidate's passion for neonatology shines through in this response, along with their enthusiasm for making a positive impact in the field. It's a straightforward explanation of why they're drawn to their specialty.

8. Why Our Program?

"Your program's focus on research excellence and interdisciplinary collaboration is appealing to me. I'm particularly interested in your work in pediatric critical care medicine, as it aligns perfectly with my career goals of providing specialized care to critically ill children. Your program's reputation for fostering a supportive and collaborative environment is exactly what I'm looking for to continue my growth as a physician and researcher in this specific field."

Why This Answer is Good?

This answer effectively highlights the specific aspects of the program that appeal to the candidate and align with their career goals. It flows well, showing how the program fits into their professional trajectory.

9. What Differentiates You?

“I stand out due to my experience as a volunteer EMT, which has honed my decision-making skills and ability to handle emergencies calmly. Being an EMT has taught me the importance of quick, accurate assessments and effective communication, skills that I believe are essential in any medical setting. This experience has also given me a unique perspective on the front lines of healthcare, which I bring with me into my medical training." 

Why This Answer is Good?

The candidate stands out by showcasing their hands-on experience as a volunteer EMT and the valuable skills they've gained from it, demonstrating a unique perspective on patient care. It's a smooth segue into discussing their strengths.

10. Please Explain This From Your CV. 

"I'd like to provide more details about my role as a research coordinator, where I led a team in conducting a successful study on neonatal resuscitation. This experience highlighted the importance of meticulous planning, data analysis, and effective teamwork in research. We were able to publish our findings in Resuscitation Plus, which was a significant achievement for the team. This experience solidified my passion for research and my ability to contribute effectively to research projects."

Why This Answer is Good?

This answer provides additional context and insights into the candidate's role as a research coordinator, showcasing their leadership and publication achievements. It flows seamlessly, adding depth to their qualifications.

Tips to Ensure a Successful Residency Interview

The Residency interview season is an exciting and crucial part of your medical career journey. It's not just about putting a face to the application but also about finding the perfect match for your future as a physician. In this section, we'll walk you through the entire process, from preparation to post-interview etiquette.

The Waiting Game

In this section, we’ll navigate the art of staying cool and collected during the nerve-wracking waiting period before your residency interview.

  • Be Patient If You Haven't Heard Back: After sending out your ERAS application, the waiting game begins. Don't fret if some programs haven't reached out yet; it doesn't reflect poorly on your qualifications. Various factors affect the timing of interview invitations:
  • Location Matters: Some programs prioritize local applicants, making it tough for non-locals.
  • Institutional Preferences: Certain programs favor graduates from specific medical schools or prefer MD over DO candidates.
  • Competitiveness Counts: The program's competitiveness and your chosen specialty influence interview timing.
  • Scheduling Differences: Programs send out invites at varying times, some even in two rounds.

To Reach Out or Not to Reach Out

Should you hit ‘send’ or hold back? We’ll discuss the ins and outs of reaching out to programs, helping you strike that perfect balance between professionalism and making your presence known.

  • Check for Invitations: Ensure the program has already sent out invitations, especially early in the season.
  • Highlight Achievements: If you've achieved something noteworthy, like great Step 2 CK scores, use it as a talking point.
  • Emphasize Your Fit: Explain your genuine interest in the program and how it aligns with your long-term goals.
  • Leverage Connections: If you have a program connection, let them vouch for you.
  • Make It Count: When leaving a voicemail or sending an email, keep it professional and provide your AAMC ID for reference.

Preparing for the Interview

Success starts with preparation. Dive into practical tips on getting yourself ready for the residency interview so you can walk in with confidence and leave a lasting impression.

  • Research Thoroughly: Immerse yourself in program research. Study their website to grasp the curriculum, research opportunities, and didactics. If you can, research your interviewers on platforms like LinkedIn or PubMed to find common interests.
  • Know Your Application Inside Out: Familiarize yourself with your medical student CV and ERAS application. Be ready to discuss any research, achievements, or experiences you've included.
  • Prepare Your Answers: Anticipate common questions and craft well-prepared responses. Address potential red flags positively, like failed courses or low USMLE scores. Prepare concise responses for typical questions like:
  • “Tell me about yourself.”
  • “Why did you choose this field?”
  • “What are you proud of?”
  • “Tell me about your weaknesses.”
  • Handle Curveballs: Expect unexpected clinical questions, especially in some specialties. Stay calm and approach them systematically.
  • Ask Your Questions: Have thoughtful questions ready for the end of the interview. Go beyond the program's website to demonstrate genuine interest.
  • Mock Interviews: Practice with mock interviews to refine your responses, boost confidence, and get feedback on your presentation.

On Interview Day

Let’s talk about managing those pre-interview jitters and making the most of every moment on your interview day.

  • Dress and Arrive Professionally (For In-Person Interviews): Like for your medical school interview, you want to make a good impression. So, wear a professional suit. Arrive punctually or a tad early to make a positive impression.
  • Show Respect to All: Maintain professionalism with everyone you meet, from greeters to program directors. Your behavior reflects on you as a potential resident.
  • Connect with Residents: Engage with current residents to learn about the program's quality of life and culture.
  • Attend Pre-Interview Events: Participate in pre-interview events like dinners to network and get a feel for the town.
  • Virtual Interview Prep: For virtual interviews, maintain professionalism in attire, set up, and behavior. Dress fully, ensure stable internet, minimize distractions, and keep noise levels appropriate.

During the Interview

It’s time to shine. Keep reading for insights on strategies to ace the actual interview.

  • Maintain Eye Contact: Establish good eye contact to convey professionalism and interest.
  • Speak Professionally: Address interviewers respectfully, avoid slang, and maintain professionalism.
  • Minimize Distractions: For virtual interviews, ensure a quiet environment, silence your phone, and maintain professionalism.
  • Engage Actively: Allow interviewers to speak and finish their thoughts before responding. Stay on topic and avoid lengthy tangents.

After the Interview

Discover post-interview moves that can boost your standing and make you memorable as you navigate the next steps in the residency application process.

  • Send Follow-Up Messages: Respect program guidelines for post-interview correspondence. If allowed, send a thank-you note or email tailored to your discussions.
  • Boost Your Matching Chances: Your best chance lies in presenting your best self during interviews, maintaining professionalism, and post-interview etiquette.


Let's take a look at some frequently asked questions about residency interviews and preparation.

1. What Should I Do After the Interview?

After the interview, it's a good idea to send a follow-up email to the program director and anyone else you interacted with during the interview process, like the interview coordinator. Typically, you'll have had three to five formal interviews, so try to email each one if possible.

2. Who Will be My Interviewer?

You'll likely interview with the residency directors, faculty members, and residents at different stages of their training. The exact lineup can vary based on the program.

3. What Should I Wear for a Residency Interview?

If no dress code is specified, it's safest to wear business casual attire, like what you'd wear to a clinic or office setting. It's always better to be a bit overdressed than underdressed. Also, consider the setting—if you're meeting in a casual environment like a bar or restaurant, jeans paired with a patterned button-down shirt and a blazer could be appropriate.

4. How Important is a Residency Interview?

The residency interview is very important for your ranking. It's up there with your grades, activities in medical school, and board scores.

5. How Long Should Your Answers Be?

Keep your answers concise during the interview. Write down key points in bullet points to keep your responses natural and unrehearsed. Aim to finish your answer within 1 to 1.5 minutes to maintain a good flow.

Final Thoughts

Residency interviews are a major milestone in your medical journey. If you prepare well, maintain professionalism, and engage positively, you can definitely make a lasting impact and up your odds of matching with a program that aligns with your dreams. 

Remember, every interview is your moment to shine. So, go out there, give it your best shot, and may your path to becoming a top-notch physician take flight. Good luck with those interviews! 

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