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Commonly Asked Interview Questions

Commonly Asked Interview Questions

BY RYAN PORTER, MD


WHEN PREPARING FOR AN INTERVIEW, IT IS IMPORTANT TO ANTICIPATE BASIC QUESTIONS RELATED TO YOUR INTERESTS, EXPERIENCES AND EXPECTATIONS FOR THE FUTURE. BELOW IS A LIST THAT CAN ENSURE YOU ARE ABLE TO PRACTICE AND PERSONALIZE YOUR ANSWERS.

  1. Tell me about yourself. This was the first question from almost every interviewer at every program. You should have a scripted answer for this question that you could say convincingly in your sleep.
  2. What is the most interesting surgical case you have ever seen? Make sure to know anatomy, physiology, and indications for the surgery.
  3. What is your most memorable non-surgical patient? The answer can be an ENT or non-ENT patient. Be sure to know why this patient made more of an impact than all of the others you have seen.
  4. Name an instance where you made a difference in a patient’s care.
  5. What is the worst thing that has happened in your life?
  6. What kind of grades do you get? Obviously, the interviewer should already know the answer. Just answer something like, “I expect to graduate in the [top/middle] third of my class.
  7. Name your top three favorite books/movies.
  8. Where do you see yourself in ten years?
  9. Who is your role model? Why?
  10. What is the best advice your role model ever gave you?
  11. What kind of person is your father? …mother?
  12. What do you know about this program?
  13. Why did you choose to apply to this program?
  14. Do you know any good jokes?
  15. If you were interviewing residents today, what would you be looking for in a resident? What are five questions you would ask?
  16. Do you plan to get pregnant during residency? This question is not appropriate, but might be asked. If you are a male, definitely answer, “No.”
  17. Tell us why you should be a resident here.
  18. What are your strengths? … weaknesses? Once again, almost everyone asks these questions. Be able to answer them in your sleep because you will be sleeping by the thirtieth time you are asked these questions.
  19. What was the best invention in the last 100 years? …best medical invention?
  20. What is your least favorite thing about otolaryngology?
  21. What are three things about medical school that you did not expect?
  22. What was the worst thing about medical school?
  23. What are your non-professional goals for the future?
  24. What is something you hope to accomplish during your life?
  25. How do you maintain empathy?
  26. What aspect of your application would you like me to focus on?
  27. What sets you apart?
  28. What is the most difficult thing you have ever had to deal with?
  29. What is a medical mistake that you have made? How did you deal with it?
  30. Tell me about your family.
  31. What do you know a lot of information about?
  32. Scenario: One of your patients is an eight-year-old child of two Jehovah’s Witness parents who needs an operation on a neck mass that has the potential to cause serious hemorrhage. The child will die without the operation. When you try to consent the family for a blood transfusion in case of an emergency, the parents refuse. What do you do?
  33. How many interviews have you done? … have you been invited to?
  34. What would you do if your senior resident asks you to do something that you do not agree with?
  35. What would you do if you called your attending in from home on a Saturday at 2 a.m. for a trauma case and you sensed that your attending was drunk?
  36. How do you deal with conflict?
  37. Do you have good manual dexterity?
  38. What are you looking for in a program?
  39. If you could invite any three people from any period in time to a book discussion, who would you invite, what book would you discuss, and why?
  40. If you could live in any fictional place from a book for the rest of your life, where would you live and why?
  41. I see you got a [B/C/D, etc] in your ___ class in college. Can you explain?
  42. If you could invite any three people from any time to a dinner party, who would you invite and why?
  43. Who is a non-family, non-medical person that you most admire/respect? Why?
  44. Scenario: You have just begun your internship are walking down the street outside of your hospital wearing your white coat. You notice two men in front of you walking together. One of them suddenly falls down and hits his head on the concrete. His friend says, “Doctor, please help my friend! He isn’t breathing.” You notice blood coming from the collapsed man’s mouth. The friend says, “Oh yeah, my friend is HIV positive. Please help!” What do you do?
  45. If you had two weeks of vacation and unlimited funds, where would you travel? Why?
  46. I am here to test your medical knowledge. Imagine that an adult patient walks into your clinic next year with a large left sided neck mass—tell me what you would do next. The interviewer proceeded to talk the applicant through the entire workup.
  47. Have you ever been to [Chicago, Boston, Cleveland, etc.]? Would you have any reservations about moving here?
  48. Is residency a place for medical mistakes?
  49. Is healthcare a right or a privilege?
  50. Describe your ideal day.
  51. Is there a particular lab or investigator at our institution that you are interested in working for?
  52. Name five interesting things you can do with a potato. Only one of the things can be a food.
  53. Is there a specific aspect of otolaryngology that you are interested in?
  54. Tell me about your research.
  55. What do you do for fun?
  56. Where did you do your away rotations? Why did you choose those programs?
  57. What do you think of our program so far?
  58. You seem like a good match for our program. Do you plan to rank us #1?
  59. What have been your favorite programs so far?
  60. What has been your most interesting interview question so far?
  61. Why do you want to go into otolaryngology?
  62. Are you AOA?
  63. Draw a [anatomical part] and label it in as much detail as possible.
  64. What can I tell you about this program?
  65. Are you married?
  66. That’s a nice tie. Where is it from?
  67. Who is the only person to receive two Heisman trophies in back-to-back years?
  68. If you were the supreme leader of the USA, what would you do to change the health care system?
  69. Please read this poem from the latest edition of the New Yorker and tell me what you think.
  70. What do you want to do here?
  71. Do you have family nearby [the residency town]?
  72. What can we do to bring you here?
  73. Can I get you a drink?
  74. Pick up this [anatomic] model and describe it.
  75. Are you doing otolaryngology so that you can work part time and have kids?
  76. You have five minutes—teach me something that I don’t already know.
  77. What do you think draws people to otolaryngology?
  78. How can we be sure that you are going into otolaryngology for the right reasons?
  79. Have you ever served in the military? Why not?
  80. Why haven’t you published anything if you like this field [ENT]?
  81. Describe your mother.
  82. What is the difference between the two digit and the three digit USMLE scores?
  83. Why didn’t you get honors in your otolaryngology rotation?
  84. What are your thoughts on healthcare?
  85. What in nature best represents you?
  86. Name something that you do better than anyone else in the world?
  87. What has been your defining moment in life?
  88. If you were headed for a desert island and could only take a shoebox, what would you put in the box? No electronics.
  89. If you were a natural element, what would you be? Why?
  90. What has been your biggest mistake?
  91. If a genie granted you one wish, what would it be? (You can’t say more wishes.)
  92. What is your favorite hole in the skull base? Why?
  93. (Interviewer puts up CT of temporal bone.) Show me the cochlea…now the facial nerve.
  94. (Interviewer puts up CT of ethmoid sinuses with a subperiosteal abscess.) What is the diagnosis? It is 11 PM and you are the junior resident on call, what do you do? Is this an emergency?
  95. (Interviewer shows audiogram with bilateral flat tympanograms and bilateral 30 dB CHL.) What else do you want to know? What is the diagnosis? What are the treatment options?
  96. How would you manage a post-tonsillectomy bleed?
  97. What is the differential diagnosis of a sinonasal tumor? . . .hard palate lesion? laryngeal lesion? salivary gland mass? thyroid nodule?
  98. There is a basket with exactly 99 balls that weight 10 g and 1 ball that weights 1.1 g. They are all the same size and color. How would you find the one ball that weighs more?
  99. Tell me about an ethical dilemma that you encountered during medical school.
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