The Residency Interview Days: Making the Most of Each Event


The interview process for a US medical residency program offers a variety of valuable opportunities for foreign medical graduates who are hoping to match in the spring. Not only do interviews allow you to show why you are a good fit for the program, but they also give you the chance to learn more about different programs and decide how you might rank your options on your ROL in the winter. Usually, the interview process lasts for one or two days, and every event on the itinerary counts. In order to make the most of these these events, it can be helpful to know what to expect. Read on to learn more about the structure of the interview days and how you can make the most of each event.

Interview Day Events to Expect

Every residency program has a unique itinerary for its interview day(s), but there are some general similarities that you can count on. As a candidate, knowing what to expect from each event–and how you can get the most out of it–can help you successfully navigate the interview day(s):


  • Orientation / welcome presentation. The official start to most interview days is a welcome presentation by an administrative leader, during which you and the other hopeful candidates are given an overview of the program. You’ll typically hear about the daily expectations for residents, the educational structure of the program, and any research opportunities that may be offered. The presentation also usually covers logistical details related to salary, benefits, services, and lifestyle (like housing and transportation). It can be helpful to take notes during this session, but most of the information will probably be available in information packets provided by the program. Instead of frantically trying to copy every word, keep a pen handy to jot down the side notes and anecdotes that you won’t be able to find in the official paperwork.
  • Formal interviews. Of course, the formal interviews are at the heart of the interview days. Depending on the program, you might find yourself interviewing with faculty members, current residents, or both. The number of interviews also varies between programs, but you can typically expect anywhere from two to six formal interviews. As we discussed in an earlier post, there are key do’s and don’ts that can help you through the interview. As you prepare, you may also want to set up a practice run with friends, colleagues, mentors, or other candidates from your medical school.  
  • Tour of the facility. The extent and scope of the tour can vary significantly depending on the size of the facility, but it always gives you the chance to get a feel for the general atmosphere of the institution and the surrounding area. It can be challenging to take notes as you walk during the tour, and you probably won’t notice as much if you’re focused on your notebook. Instead, focus on observing observing your surroundings and write down what you remember later.
  • Informal meals and social events. Often, aspiring residents will have the chance to sit down to an informal meal with current residents and/or staff. It could be a breakfast in the hospital cafeteria, dinner at a nearby restaurant, or even drinks after all the interviews are complete. These events can be fun, but you should also remember that they are still part of the interview process, so you don’t want to make a poor impression. Instead, try to get to know the residents and staff, find out what it’s like to live in the area, and take the chance to ask about informal topics like apartment options and nearby recreational opportunities.
  • Opportunities for resident shadowing. Although not included on the itinerary for all US medical residency programs, there are some programs that give you the chance to shadow residents during rounds or resident reports. This can help you get an idea of the workplace atmosphere and the daily life of residents in the facility. However, if you’re considering several different specialty areas when you are constructing your ROLs later in the winter, it’s important to remember that a few hours of shadowing may not provide enough information for you to develop a comprehensive understanding of the differences between specialites. For that, you may want to consider a longer graduate externship program. On the interview days, you should focus on the atmosphere in the facility and the general experiences of the residents so you can decide if it is the kind of place where you would enjoy working.
  • Exit interviews or closing presentation. Formal exit interviews are less common, but there are some programs where you will briefly meet with an administrative official before the conclusion of the interview days. There are also programs where a one-on-one exit interview is replaced by a general closing presentation from a hospital administrator. Either way, this closing event isn’t the time to try to cram in details about your previous experiences or plans for the future. Rather, an exit interview or closing event gives you the chance to make one final, positive impression–so remember to be friendly, indicate your sincere interest in the program, and smile!



If you’re a foreign medical graduate looking to get matched to a US medical residency program, FMG Portal is here to help you at every step of the process. Contact us today to learn more about everything we offer!


What If I Didn’t Match? Do’s and Don’ts for Foreign Medical Graduates


Match Week 2018 is officially over! This week, thousands of medical students found out that they had been matched to the program of their dreams, including many foreign medical graduates. If you were lucky, you found out on Monday of Match Week that you had matched to one of the programs on your Rank Order List (ROL) — in which case, congratulations! If not, you may also have participated in SOAP over the course of the week, which is another way in which you may have found a position in a US medical residency program.

However, spots are limited, and even strong candidates don’t always end up getting matched. If that is the case for you, keep in mind that about one in four US medical residency candidates aren’t matched each year, including well-qualified foreign medical graduates. By playing your cards right, you may still find yourself in a US medical residency program in the future — whether it’s in 2018, 2019, or beyond. Here are a few do’s and don’ts that you can follow if you didn’t get matched this week, but you still hope to launch your career in a US medical residency program.

What You DON’T Want to Do If You Didn’t Get Matched

When you find yourself unmatched at the end of Match Week, it is important to avoid pitfalls that have the potential to derail your dreams of a medical residency for good. Here are a few DON’Ts that you can follow in order to stay on the path to success:


  • DON’T give up on a 2018 medical residency just yet.


After SOAP ended on Thursday of Match Week at 12:00 pm, all unmatched candidates were granted access to the post-SOAP list of unfilled programs. Now is a great time to take a look at all of the programs on the list and start contacting programs about a possible offer.


  • DON’T fall out of touch with your medical school.


After not getting matched to a medical residency program, some applicants are embarrassed and don’t want to face the dean or their instructors. It’s especially easy to fall out of touch with your medical school if you have just graduated and you were hoping to enter directly into a US medical residency program. However, if you stay in contact with your medical school, they may be able to help you find research opportunities, support your search for externships, and attest to your commitment to a US medical residency program when you submit your application the next time around.


  • DON’T assume that you need to apply in 2019.


Another common misconception among residency candidates who didn’t get matched is that the next logical step is to start polishing your application for 2019. However, you may want to consider taking a year off to strengthen your application for the 2020 NRMP Match. For example, within that year, you may be able to get a 3-month (or even longer) clinical externship in the United States, which can help you make more connections and develop a stronger application for the 2020 application cycle.

Important DO’s for Foreign Medical Graduates Who Didn’t Get Matched

As you move forward from an unsuccessful Match Week, making sure you don’t make mistakes is important — but what you DO over the next few days and months can make an even greater difference for your future attempts to get matched. Here are several DO’s that can help maximize the odds that you will eventually end up in a US medical residency program.



  • DO learn from your first application and interview experience.


Your initial inclination might be to try to forget about the 2018 Match, but you reflecting on your experience may also provide you with key insight into how you might succeed in the future. If you didn’t get any interviews, you may want to look for ways to improve your personal statement, strengthen your CV, and/or get better letters of recommendation. If you did interview, you may want to think about what you can do to improve your interview outcomes next time.  


  • DO take the USMLE Step 3 Exam before you apply again.


As we discussed in an earlier post, foreign medical graduates have the option of whether or not to take the USMLE Step 3 Exam before applying for a US medical residency program. Experts say that taking (and passing!) the USMLE can significantly improve your competitiveness if you are applying for a second time. This shows programs that you are truly committed to success within a US medical residency program.  


  • DO explore your options for future programs.


As you look ahead to your US medical residency program prospects in the future, you may want to broaden you options when it comes to specialty area and location. If you are more flexible about your choices, you may be more likely to get an offer from a less-competitive program in the future. If you are thinking about applying for programs in a different specialty area or learning more about programs in a different area of the United States, completing an externship program is a great way to explore your options.
For more information about improving your chances of getting matched in the future, contact FMG Portal today!

Residency Interview Do’s and Don’ts: Tips for Foreign Medical Graduates


If you’re a foreign medical graduate, finding out that you have been offered an interview at a US medical residency program can be an exciting moment. After all your hard work in medical school — not to mention the time you spent perfecting your personal statement and putting your application materials together — it’s great to know that a program in the United States is willing to consider you as a candidate. At the same time, it’s normal to be nervous about the medical residency interview, because it can really make a difference as to whether or not you end up getting matched to your top choice. Read on for some do’s and don’ts that can help make your US medical residency interview experience a success.

What You Need to DO During the Residency Interview Process

Everything you do during the interview can impact the impression you make on the program. Here are a few of the things to make sure you do:


  • DO dress for success. When you interview for a US medical residency program, you should plan to dress in business formal attire. Your appearance affects the first impression you make on everyone you meet, so professionalism and modesty are key. As you choose your interview outfits, you should also make sure that you feel relatively comfortable, since you don’t want to be distracted by an itchy tag or a too-tight collar when you are trying to explain your professional goals to an interviewer.
  • DO make sure you directly address the interviewer’s questions. Part of the interview is to determine how well you communicate, since effective communication is essential to your success in a residency program–not to mention your career as a physician in the future. Make sure you’re not just answering the questions you think the interviewer might ask — really pay attention to what they are saying. Also, if you’re not sure what your interviewer means when they ask you a question, don’t be afraid to clarify! An interviewer will appreciate a clarifying question much more than a confused, rambling answer that fails to truly address the question.
  • DO remember to smile! There’s no doubt that an interview for a US medical residency program is a nerve-wracking and high-pressure experience, but you have to remember that your interviewers are trying to get to know you — not trap you in “gotcha” questions or make you look silly. Remember to smile, relax, and maintain a positive attitude and upbeat demeanor. Your smile can demonstrate that you are confident, even under stressful circumstances, which is a great attribute for a future physician.

Major Don’ts: What NOT to Do During Your Medical Residency Interview

When it comes to your medical residency interview, there are important pitfalls that you should try to avoid. Here are a few major DON’Ts for foreign medical graduates who are looking to make a stellar impression:


  • DON’T speak without thinking. When you’re nervous, it can be tempting to jump right into an answer to an interview question before you’ve really decided what you want to say. Speaking without thinking can be especially problematic if you’re not a native English speaker and you find yourself midway through a sentence, unsure of where you ultimately want to go with your answer. During the interview, remember that there is nothing wrong with pausing after an interviewer has asked a question to take a deep breath and carefully consider your response.
  • DON’T spend your interviews reciting your CV or personal statement. The program has already reviewed your CV and personal statement, so your interviewers will be familiar with your background. The interview offers you the opportunity to build on these documents and show them why you truly belong in the program. While it’s okay to talk about the goals and accomplishments that you listed on your CV and discussed in your personal statement, make sure you’re speaking candidly and expanding on your ideas, not just reciting the documents from memory.
  • DON’T act unprofessionally outside of the formal interview slots. Although the interview process varies between programs, most programs include multiple events outside the interview process, like a tour of the hospital or a meal with faculty and current residents. These settings are less formal, but you should still remember that people in the program are paying attention to your behavior. You may not need to wear a business suit to a restaurant, but it’s still important to look clean and neat. It’s also best to avoid controversial topics of conversation (like politics or religion), excessive complaining, and (of course) foul language.

The prospect of an interview for a US medical residency program can be daunting for foreign medical graduates, but if you approach it strategically, you can make your best impression and maximize the chances that you will get matched to the program of your dreams. FMG Portal is here to help you with a wide range of resources that can help you successfully navigate the US medical residency preparation, application, and interview processes. Contact us today to learn more!