Interview Preparation

Congratulations! To all medical students applying to family medicine on finishing your residency applications. Now, you are in the midst of constructing your interview schedule … editing calendars, projecting expenses, and polishing dress shoes. As you prepare all the little details, please recognize that the residency interview is a job interview. Program directors invite individuality and expressions of passion. However, your attributes can be quickly undermined by immaturity and a deficit of professionalism. Check the privacy settings and content of your social media outlets. What goes on in Vegas stays on the Internet forever.

If possible, arrange a mock interview with your medical school. This provides you with a sense of the rhythm and flow of the process. You will become attuned to the tone and cadence of your voice as you speak for extended periods of time. Upon arriving for your interview, try to get a sense of the culture of the program. Culture extends beyond what is written on the websites and brochures. Culture is not what people say, but rather what they do and how they do it. Focus your questions to ones which cannot be answered by other sources; take advantage of the chance to engage in a synchronous interaction with faculty and residents. Consider asking the following two questions:

  1. “How would you describe your residency’s culture in 10 words or fewer?”
  2. To the program director: “How is your voice aligning with your vision?”

The first question provides you with a sense of how often individuals in the residency think about their culture and how much they value the power of culture in a working environment. The second question assesses the authenticity and the thought process of the program director. The interview is a bidirectional process and you should come away with a sense of permeability- where ideas are freely exchanged and core values are reinforced through dialogue.

Good luck!

For more interview preparation and career development resources, check out the Resident Toolkit on the California Academy of Family Physicians’ website!

Author: Ronald Fong, MD, MPH

Dr. Fong's opinions are his own and do not represent UC Davis. He can be reached at

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