interviewing with secondary specialties

Interviewing with Secondary Specialties

If you applied to more than one specialty, and your background and CV are better aligned with one than the other, it’s possible you’ll be asked by a program director if you are in fact applying to multiple fields. So, it’s important to be prepared for interviewing with secondary specialties.

Be Upfront

You might initially consider “talking around” the fact that you’ve applied to more than one specialty, but it is always best to be honest. With this in mind, you should prepare a strategic answer to this question so you can acknowledge your dual application but emphasize your interest in the program’s specialty.


When interviewing with a program in your second specialty, it might be harder to convince your interviewers of your interest. This is especially true if the experiences in your CV reflect your engagement in a different field. But, there are certainly reasons why you decided to put forth the effort in applying to this second specialty.

Start by brainstorming every reason you like the specialty and envision yourself as part of that field. You might even spend some time researching and reading about the specialty online, just for inspiration. Compose a detailed list of ideas that paints a picture of why you are worthy of the program’s consideration.

When developing your answer to the question, make it clear that you would be happy and satisfied with a career in this field. You’ll want to give examples and point out how your personal attributes align with the specialty and make any possible connections between your experiences and the nature of the work done in this field.

Sample Discussion

Here’s an example of how this discussion might go:

Question: “Your CV seems better aligned with psychiatry. Why have you applied to our Internal Medicine program, and did you also apply to psychiatry?”

Response: “I do have several items on my CV that are aligned with psychiatry, and I did apply to that specialty as well. But, internal medicine has always been one of my favorite fields. I love that it involves problem solving and complex cases, and I definitely want to work with a diverse patient population. In fact, during my internal medicine clinical rotation, I met a resident who really inspired me to consider this career path. Talking with her gave me insight into how challenging the field is, and I feel confident that while a lot of my CV includes psychiatry experiences, what I learned will easily translate to internal medicine.

For example, when I completed my psychiatry elective at St. Anthony’s Hospital, we focused on taking detailed patient histories and developing  differential diagnoses. Essentially, I’m confident my background and skill set would allow me to become an excellent internist. I would be thrilled to work in this field as a long-term career.”

This response includes several key moments:

–        Acknowledgement of your dual application

–        Emphasis on the aspects of the specialty you like

–        Connection between your CV and the specialty and

–        Reiteration of your interest in the field

Being Prepared

Being well prepared to address this question during an interview in your secondary specialty is key to success. Make sure to spend ample time preparing and practicing. For tips on how to practice your delivery, check out our Interview Prep series video: Polished, Prepared, and Intentional.

Thanks for reading this blog – we hope it was helpful if you’re interviewing with secondary specialties!

If you’re interested in learning more about our comprehensive Interview Prep service, visit us here.


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