Once you are invited for an interview, you have passed the first and most important screening test. It means your scores and written credentials are acceptable and you are one of the chosen few to be given a precious interview. Now you have to master the interview. This is the make or break event in the residency selection process so it is worth getting prepared for. First, some general recommendations.
Only accept interviews to programs you might actually consider going to and for which you have a reasonable possibility of gaining acceptance. Experience has shown that you have the best chance of acceptance to programs that are relatively close to home or at least in the same part of the country.
Understand that you are being interviewed to assess your personality, work ethic, character, and how well you will get along with both faculty and your fellow residents. Final decisions on top candidates often depend more on your personality during the interview than on your STEP scores, letters of recommendation, or anything else.
These are some of the questions I personally ask medical students applying for our highly selective and competitive surgical residency. They are much tougher than the average questions you will probably be asked but you should be prepared just in case. Do not rehearse your answers too much or they will sound fake and insincere.
- What process do you follow when examining a patient with a deformity? …
- How has your manual dexterity helped your surgical skills in theatre? …
- What procedure did you follow when performing emergency surgery? …
- What preoperative procedures do you follow when treating a patient?
Core surgery interview top tips
Can you tell me about the most recent studies or articles you’ve read? And can you describe the topics that intrigued you the most?
If you encounter this question, the hospital manager or recruiter is trying to start a conversation about your commitment to continuing education and personal growth as a physician and surgeon. When asked this question, remember to speak about the subjects and topics that interest you most. It may also be beneficial to talk about new advancements that youve learned about and any experience you may have in using or implementing new procedures, skills or technologies.
Example: “Yes, Im so glad you asked this question. Im passionate about my personal professional development, and even after being in the field for a number of years, Im always excited to learn about new techniques or types of equipment that can simplify or increase the safety of a procedure. For example, I recently read about specific precision tools and incision techniques that improve patient recovery and reduce scarring.”
What is your most preferred surgical procedure to perform?
If the interviewer asks you a question like this, its likely that they are trying to understand your skill set and get to know you as a professional. Each facility is unique, and your answer can help the interviewer see whether your skills and preferences match the type of duties you may have if youre hired. When answering this question, its most important to be honest. Let that person know what interests you most while also highlighting the range of procedures youre capable of performing.
Example: “I have experience performing a range of standard procedures as well as emergency procedures for people of all ages. I get the most personal enjoyment from working in the pediatric unit. I trust my skills and love knowing that I can play a part in helping a sick or injured child feel better. I especially enjoy speaking with parents before and after surgery to ease their fears and explain how I plan to help their child.”
Can you describe a situation in which you had to give a patient, or family members of a patient, bad news? What approach did you take, and would you act similarly if you were able to have the conversation again?
If a hiring manager or recruiter asks this type of question, its likely theyre trying to learn about your bedside manner. They may also be assessing your level of experience and compatibility with the types of procedures that are typical of their facility. Remember to answer honestly and try to offer an example that showcases your compassion and empathy for your patients at their family members.
Example: “Unfortunately, in this line of work, difficult news is sometimes unavoidable. As a surgeon, I regularly see success and patient outcomes. However, in more serious situations, there are times in which I need to speak with patients and their family members about uncomfortable topics or undesirable outcomes. A few months ago, I was treating an elderly patient with cardiovascular disease.
As he and I discussed his second heart valve replacement surgery, I was forthright with him about the procedure and statistical outcomes. I also made sure that he had a family member with him, and I listened to all of his questions and answered them with patience, kindness and realism. I offered him comfort by explaining that Id successfully performed this procedure many times, and I wanted him to feel secure in my care. I dont think I would act differently if I were having this conversation again, because I believed I was fair, open and attentive to his needs.”
How do I prepare for a surgeon interview?
- Why is this procedure being recommended? …
- What are the benefits of this procedure in terms of pain relief, functioning/mobility? …
- What are the potential complications?
- What can I do to decrease my risk for complications?
- What is the success rate for this procedure?
What are three important qualities that surgeons need?
- Why do you want this particular job?
- What personal qualities would make you a good surgeon?
- What type of surgery do you want to do and why?
- Do you have any weaknesses?
- What do you do to relax?
- Where do you see yourself in five and ten years’ time?
What are 5 typical duties of a surgeon?