Have you prepared tailored questions to ask residency programs? When a residency interviewer asks if you have questions for them, you better be prepared with thoughtful questions that illustrate your genuine interest in the program. What are you curious about? After completing thorough research, what questions do you still have? What answers do you need to help decide if the program is the right fit for you?
In addition to asking interviewers questions, take every opportunity to ask current residents questions about the program. They are the ones living it day-to-day, and they will be able to provide you with personal insights into what attending the residency program will actually be like.
Below we share 42 questions to ask both interviewers and current residents.
Why It’s Important to Ask Residency Programs Questions
Residency programs don’t want to be any student’s second choice. Interviewers are looking for candidates who will make an ideal fit while gauging your interest in their specific program.
Asking thoughtful and insightful questions demonstrates your genuine interest in the residency program you are interviewing with. It is absolutely imperative to ask at least a couple of questions at the end of your interview when prompted by your interviewer. You may even begin the interview by being asked if you have any questions. If you haven’t prepared beforehand, this question could really throw you off and derail your interview before it even gets started.
Even if your interviewer doesn’t ask you if you have questions for them, you should still have a few prepared, then you can take the initiative at the end of the interview.
Avoid asking simple or generic questions, as this shows a lack of interest and preparation. If you show any hint of apathy or disinterest, the interviewer will note it. Choose questions that demonstrate you’ve thoroughly researched the program—what it has to offer you and what you can specifically offer it.
Questions to Ask Residency Programs
We compiled a list of some common and specific questions you may want to ask interviewers or current residents. Use the list below to get started, but be sure to tailor your questions to each program as well as the interviewer. Depending on how the interview goes, you can adjust your questions based on the topics that were discussed, the flow of the conversation, and the style of the interviewer.
Utilize these common and effective questions to ask residency programs during interviews:
- What do you like most about this program?
- What are you most proud of about this program?
- If you had to pick one, what is this program’s greatest weakness?
- What is something you would change about this residency program?
- How does your program compare to other programs?
- How are residents evaluated?
- How often is feedback provided to residents?
- How supportive is the program in mentoring residents?
- What percentage of residents complete your program?
- What is the patient population like?
- What community service initiatives does the residency participate in?
- Is there an orientation program for incoming residents?
- Are there informal learning opportunities available?
- Is there funding available for conference participation?
- Are there any research opportunities available to residents?
- Are there any rotations that take place outside of the city?
- What’s your favorite memory of attending residency?
- How did you choose your specialty?
- What do you like most about living in this city?
Depending on who is interviewing you, you may have a chance to ask current residents questions as well.
- Why did you choose the specialty you pursued?
- Did you have trouble deciding which specialty you wanted to pursue?
- What do you love most about this residency program?
- Is the program supportive of its residents?
- If you could change something about this residency program, what would it be?
- What’s the most interesting or exciting experience you’ve had during residency?
- Do you feel the residents here are more competitive or collaborative?
- Is there a good balance between independence and supervision?
- How has your autonomy evolved as you progressed in the program?
- Are away rotation opportunities available to you?
- Do you spend time at multiple hospitals?
- Which hospitals do you spend the most time at?
- How is a leave of absence handled?
- What is call like? How are residents supported?
- What is a typical week like for you?
- What is life like in this city?
- Are there any costs to living in this city that you did not expect?
- Do residents get along with one another?
- Do residents spend time with each other outside of the hospital?
- What do you do to handle the stress of residency?
- How does the program respond to suggestions? Are people open to change?
- What’s your favorite thing to do outside of residency?
- What do you plan to do after graduation?
Preparing and Practicing Residency Interview Questions
The questions you ask interviewers are only one small piece of your interview preparation. It is essential that you take the time to prepare and practice common residency interview questions.
Ensure you have clear and concise answers ready for all of the most common questions, including:
- Describe yourself.
- Why do you want to become a doctor?
- Why do you want to attend our program?
- What are you looking for from a residency program?
- Why will you make a good fit for our program?
- Why did you choose X specialty?
- Where do you see yourself in 5-10 years?
- What is your greatest weakness?
- What is your greatest strength?
- What do you like to do for fun?
- What is the last book you read?
- What’s the last movie you watched?
- What do you think about [current event]?
- Why should we choose you over other candidates?
We cover these residency interview questions in detail in another post. We outline what interviewers are looking for and how you can best answer each question. Read 14 Residency Interview Questions and How to Answer.
As you prepare, be sure you are not memorizing your answers word for word. This will only trip you up during your interview. If a question is asked in a slightly different way, you will be thrown off, and if you stumble or make a mistake, you will have trouble recovering.
Instead, practice answering common questions with the experiences that have led you to where you are today. Have a rough idea of how you will answer each question, and practice adapting your answer. Your response should evolve based on the exact wording of the question and the feedback you get from the interviewer. They will likely ask follow-up questions and engage with certain points you make, which will naturally help you guide the conversation.
Practice answering different versions of similar questions to see how you are able to adapt on the fly. Try not to overthink it. It’s very likely you’ve answered similar questions within your application materials or while speaking to other students and mentors about your future.
Choose stories and anecdotes you are comfortable speaking about. It’s a good idea to review your application leading up to your interviews since anything you included in your application is fair game to be asked about.
The amount of time you spend preparing depends on your experience and level of comfort with interviewing. Get a head start just in case, and don’t rely on your medical school interview skills alone. Those days were a long time ago, and residency interviews are expecting a whole new level of maturity from you.
Residency Interview Mistakes to Avoid
Since the days of applying to medical school are well behind you, here’s a reminder of some common mistakes to avoid before, during, and after your interview:
- Don’t be late.
- Don’t be rude to staff, students, physicians, or anyone else you encounter.
- Don’t scroll social media on your phone while waiting.
- Don’t forget to silence or turn off your phone.
- Don’t walk around with your head down.
- Don’t cross your arms.
- Don’t slouch.
- Don’t be negative or sarcastic.
- Don’t gossip about other medical schools or other applicants.
- Don’t chew gum during the interview.
- Don’t dress in revealing clothing.
- Don’t wear strong cologne or perfume.
- Don’t offer bland or generic answers.
- Don’t lie about your skills or experience.
- Don’t ask simple questions that can be answered on the school’s website.
Set Yourself Apart With Mock Interviews
Mock interviews are an ideal opportunity to put your interview skills to the test in an environment that simulates the real experience. Med School Insiders offers a range of Residency Admissions Consulting Services, including residency application editing, interview prep, and mock interviews.