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!