Interview Day – Do’s and Don’ts

You’ve spent weeks preparing, and now the big day is here. Residency program interviews can be intimidating. Residency candidates often make mistakes that may harm them the day of the interview due to stress, nerves, or lack of preparation.

In order to make the most of each interview, it’s important to be aware of what you should and shouldn’t be doing on interview day.


  • Show up at least 30 minutes early. Have contact information for someone in the program just in case you get lost.
  • Participate in all the events (even if it’s a hospital you know).
  • Act confident, but not aggressive. You want to appear professional, but comfortable in your own skin and self assured in your own worth.
  • Be genuine and honest. Remember, you are not on trial. The interview committee wants to get to know you to ensure you are a good personality fit as well as your skills.
  • Pay close attention to everything from the people, to the presentations, rounds and so on.
  • Shake hands and make good eye contact.
  • Ask questions when you are asked if you have any questions. Programs want you to ask about them so have some questions ready to ask them.
  • Give examples to back up your claims. If you say your hard worker, prove it through your past experiences.
  • Be polite to EVERYONE you meet, whether it’s the Program Director, Coordinator, fellow candidate, current resident, or janitor.
  • Engage with other interviewees. Don’t be shy! The program interview committee will be watching to see who gets along with others and who is standing in the corner. Remember, they want people who are team players and personable.
  • Take notes at the end of the day to remember details about how the day went. The more details you have, the better Thank You Letters you can write.


  • Pull out your cellphone for any reason — This is RUDE. Your phone should stay in your car or bag the whole day. You may ask for permission if there is an emergency.
  • Talk too much or too little. Answer questions completely, but do not take over the interview.
  • Brag, be too loud, interrupt, or too forceful. There is a fine line between confident and arrogant.
  • Get defensive in tone or body language. You are going to be asked some hard questions which may bring up unpleasant parts of your past. Programs want to see how you react to your challenges. Keep your tone neutral and your body language open.
  • Mention other programs or specialties. Programs want to feel special.
  • Speak poorly of any past employers or coworkers.
  • Lie or answer what you think they want to hear. Programs want to get to know the real you, so if they ask you what your favorite movie is the only right answer is your favorite movie!
  • Dress inappropriately. The interview day attire should be business formal and the social events should be business casual.
  • Overdo it on the caffeine. Drink the same amount of coffee or soda as you normally do. Too much extra caffeine will make you extra nervous and jittery. But, be sure to leave the drink outside the interview so your hands stay open.
  • Get distracted. Do whatever it takes to remain alert and attentive the whole day. Give those speaking your full attention by leaning forward, talking with your hands and nodding your head to show you are listening.
  • Ask about your pay, benefits, time off, hours, etc. This discussion is better saved for another time and will rub the programs wrong.

The best interview experiences are when you turn the interview into a conversation. By the end, it should feel a little like you’ve made a new friend.

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