More Questions to Ask at Your Residency Interview

In 2016 I wrote a pretty detailed article about all the things you should ask residents, faculty or both during your interview day. Now that I’ve done three years of residency – and interview seasons – here’s a few more.

ProTip: It’s okay to have some of your questions written down on a sheet of paper, to reference during interviews. We realize you’re nervous and have *a lot* of questions. But if it seems like you’re asking all questions from a page you might come off as un-prepared, so have 5-10 “stock questions” you ask at every interview, then use your paper.

Ask the Residents

  • What do y’all do for fun around here, and do you hang out with each other?
  • What food resources are provided to residents? Is there a doctor’s lounge we’re allowed in, do we have meal cards, is there free food during didactic teaching time? (Food is love!)
  • Have there been any negative or positive changes in leadership in the past year?
  • Have there been any scheduling changes that detrimentally affected the residents?
  • Does leadership respond well to resident feedback?
  • Are there any rotations that could be improved? How/why?
  • Can you afford to live well here with the base salary? Or do residents feel compelled to moonlight as soon as possible to live more comfortably?
  • Are interns expected to teach medical students in clinic or inpatient service?
  • Is there a block schedule residents pick from, or is it individualized? Is vacation randomly assigned (risk of using all 4 weeks at start of year, higher risk of burnout) or do residents get to request time off at any point? (Ask about vacation time without harping on it, this is your time to rest/recharge and should be distributed over the year )
  • How functional is the Program Coordinator? Are there any issues with last-minute cancelled rotations/electives? When do you get your block schedules? Is it difficult to schedule your own dental or doctor’s appointments?
  • Do you feel supported by the residency when issues come up? (ie: getting sick, maternity/paternity leave)
  • Are there any wellness initiatives? Are there mandatory wellness modules or does the program/hospital encourage self-chosen wellness activities?
  • Are Chiefs selected by residents, faculty/PD or both?

ProTip – A lot of the above questions are best asked in 1-on-1 situations, such as faculty-free interview dinners. If you never get any time to speak to residents without faculty present that can be a red flag. Read more red flags of interviewing here.

Ask Faculty and PD

  • What do graduates go on to do after this program? (Rural, global health, academics, FQHCs, urban health centers, etc)
  • How far out is the clinic schedule?
  • How do you respond to resident feedback about didactics and/or rotation experiences?
  • If an “opposed” program – Does our FM team get experience with all aspects of inpatient, or does the ED tend to give our team more psych/dispo issues, while reserving “bread and butter medicine” for the IM team? (at my program there are always 2 FM inpatient teams, at least 2 IM teams. Our ED rotates admits between teams, IM-FM-IM-FM, regardless of what diagnosis is being admitted. At some places this isn’t done, and you may never learn to handle an ACS rule out your entire time as a hospitalist)
  • Is there a scheduled procedure clinic? If not, what does the program do to ensure residents get sufficient procedure skills? (specific procs to ask about: toenail removal, skin biopsy/basic derm skills, sebaceous cyst removal, laceration repair, I&D, IUD placement & removal, Nexplanon placement & removal, various joint injections, wet mount prep and eval, pap smear, POCUS, foreign body removal frome ears/nose, eye exam and FB removal, colposcopy, etc.)
  • Are there any committees integrating residents from each specialty to address hospital systems issues?
  • What changes are you looking forward to for this program?
  • What leadership development opportunities exist for residents? Is there a leadership curriculum?
  • Are Chiefs selected by residents, faculty/PD or both?

About Dinners…

One more thing… we place a lot of weight on the interview dinner, which is often the night before or night of your interview. Why? It’s a chance for us to have a real conversation with you, find out who YOU are as a person. See if we want to spend time with you, for hours on end, on our inpatient service. So be sure to let us know, “Really wish I could have come for the dinner, but I booked my flight before I knew about it” or “Wanted to come to the dinner, but I wasn’t able to get out of my rotation early enough to drive/fly here in time.” It’s a casual way of letting us know you ARE interested in the program, but time/money got in the way. We know it, but we forget. If you say nothing, a lot of us assume you’re just “not that into us.” This is classist and stupid, but unlikely to change this season. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

More questions to ask at your interviews

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By Pixie


Pixie is happiest reading with a cup of tea in hand. She enjoys women’s health, adolescent medicine, painting and polymer clay. For more info, see her much longer bio on the author page.

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