Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University

Office of Student Affairs & Career Counseling
Interview Preparation

The interview is a time when the student and residency program staff get to know each other on a personal level. The basics of the interview are simple:

  • Be on time
  • Be nice to everyone
  • Make eye contact
  • Be confident
  • Be honest
  • Take notes of important details. Take the time at the end of the day to write anything down that you didn't have time to earlier.
Your interviewers are looking to determine if you will be a good fit, whether they can see working with you for 3-5 years and what you can add to their program. To make sure you give the best and truest impression, there are many things you can do.

Schedule Professionally

  • Keep your email inbox empty and check it frequently as this is typically the preferred method of contact by residency programs.
  • Be flexible with your availability. This will optimize the number of interview opportunities.
  • It is okay to schedule now and cancel an interview later. Be courteous and cancel as far in advance as possible. This allows other applicants to get interviews (remember, you may be on the other end one day). Canceling the day before is not acceptable and word may get passed on to other programs/schools that you are unreliable.
  • Be cognizant of the fact that you are one of many that may be trying to schedule an interview. There are likely many more applicants than there are interview slots. 

Make Sure You Are Ready

  • Know the contents of your application, CV and personal statement.
  • Be prepared to explain gaps or delays in your education.
  • Be prepared to answer questions on your research—what you did, what the outcomes were, what experience you gained.
  • Review the program website and be familiar with key faculty and their research interests.
  • Be prepared to answer why you have chosen that field, program, area of country (avoid saying, "For the lifestyle").
  • Be prepared to answer broad questions such as "Tell me about yourself" succinctly.
  • Be prepared to highlight your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Be prepared to outline your ideal career path. ("Where do you see yourself in 10 years?")
  • Be ready to ask them questions too.
Sample Interview Questions (PDF). Examples of questions you might be asked and questions you might want to ask.

Ask Questions

Have well-prepared questions for everyone, especially the Program Director, even if you already heard the answer. Tailor your questions appropriately for level of interviewer (i.e., don't ask a faculty member about the intern call schedule, parking, etc.).

Ask opinion-type questions. You can ask the same question to several interviewers and compare answers.

  • Residents: Are they happy? What do they like about working there?
  • What are the strengths and weaknesses of program?
  • Do they foresee any changes?
  • What do graduates do?
Sample Interview Questions (PDF). Examples of questions you may be asked, and questions you may want to ask.

Remember That the Interview Doesn't End When You Leave

  • Take notes after you have completed your interview to refer to at a later time. You will forget some of the things that may have stood out that day.
  • Think about creating a worksheet or grid which will allow you to compare those factors which you find most important. Complete the grid after each interview.
  • Many students write thank you notes to the program director, faculty with whom they interviewed and residents. If a program discourages this, please follow their recommendations.