not get residency interviews

9 Reasons Why Medical Students Do Not Get Residency Interviews

Oftentimes, medical students do not get residency interviews because of easily avoided mistakes, omissions, and errors in their application. However, learning about these pitfalls is the best way to ensure that you give yourself the best chances possible.

The Residency application process is vast, complex, and often confusing and overwhelming. Although you may not yet be aware of everything below if you are a first-time applicant, don’t worry! Familiarization is an essential first step. For returning applicants, it is vital to understand where the weak points were in your application and why you did not get residency interviews.

9 Reasons Why Medical Students Do Not Get Residency Interviews

1. Certified MyERAS application too early.

It is essential to understand that once your “Certify and Submit” the MyERAS portion of your application, it is locked in for the duration of the season, irrevocably. The only section you can edit is the Personal Information. Thus, if you Certify when it is incomplete or contains mistakes, you are out of luck.

2. Did not properly utilize the MyERAS Written Sections.

The MyERAS Written Sections play an extremely important role in helping determine an applicant’s potential as a resident. Yet, oftentimes it is sloppily thrown together with little regard to content, presentation, or thoroughness. The MyERAS Written Sections are not as self-explanatory as one might think.

For MyERAS Written Section Guidance and Editing, visit Residency Experts. They’ll walk you through the MyERAS Written Sections step-by-step, providing comprehensive editing and feedback at every juncture.

3. Problems with Letters of Recommendation.

Letters of Recommendation need to be specialty specific, recent, and ideally, US-based from hands-on clinical experience. If they are lacking any of these qualities, their strength diminishes. Further, if your LoRs are poorly written, they do not reflect well on you either.

For more advice on obtaining the Best Letters of Recommendation, check out Residency Experts’ helpful tips by reading Your Complete Residency Letter of Recommendation Guide.

4. Weak Personal Statements.  

Your personal statements also need to be specific for each specialty you are applying to. They need to be captivating, engaging, and tell a compelling story demonstrating your potential as a physician. Otherwise, they will simply blend into the crowd, or worse yet, land you in the “Do Not Contact” pile.

Learn about the benefits of professional help on your Personal Statements at Residency Statement.

5. Red Flags are addressed inappropriately.

Red Flags can come up in many different places in the application: previous residency training (which you left before completion), reasons for leaving work-related positions, multiple USMLE failures, breaks in medical education and more. Understanding how to address and overcome these obstacles is paramount to your success.

Learn more about Residency Red Flags here.

6. Missing supporting documents.

Keep in mind, almost no part of the ERAS Application is “optional.” Do you know about the proper channels to get your Medical School Performance Evaluation as well as the USMLE Transcripts? Programs will notice if your application is incomplete and, therefore, are much more likely to grant interviews to those with a completed application. 

7. Applied to incompatible programs.

Applying to the right programs is perhaps one of the most important factors for an applicant. For every program for which you apply that you do not qualify, it is a waste of time, money, and energy. FREIDA and program websites are notoriously unreliable, out of date, and misleading.

Make sure you are applying to only the most compatible programs.

8. Did not apply to enough programs.

We typically recommend applying to a minimum of 100 programs per specialty, especially for IMGs. We know this is a big undertaking, but it is a necessary effort towards getting interviews and residency application success.

9. Applied to the wrong specialty or limiting yourself to only one specialty.

Although applying to your specialty of interest is important to your potential satisfaction as a future physician, it is also important to understand that you need the credentials to support your choice. Additionally, it is vital to have a back-up specialty (or two), especially if your first choice is highly competitive and/or not IMG friendly. Thus, it is essential to also compile the appropriate supporting documents for each specialty that you apply to, including Letters of Recommendation and Personal Statements. Keep in mind, the most successful applicants typically apply to 2-3 specialties, so incorporate this into your planning.

So, now you should understand why many medical students do not get residency interviews. We hope you are also more comfortable with the prospect of landing your own! The information is available; it is up to you to take the appropriate action on these 9 Reasons Why Medical Students Do Not Get Residency Interviews.

Do you have questions or concerns? Leave them in the comments below where we are happy to provide invaluable feedback! You can also email us at


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