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Winning a Coveted Medical Residency

My nephew, who was a medical student, wanted to do his residency (specialization) in dermatology. The challenge was that dermatology residencies were highly competitive, and not everyone who applied landed one. In addition to being extremely bright, I felt my nephew was very personable and would come across well in interviews—if he had the chance to really engage with his interviewers.

Before starting his visits to the various dermatology programs, we had a discussion about how to stand out in the interviewing process. He told me that most of the interviews were short—20 minutes—and the opening question was almost always “So, tell me about yourself.” Because it was hard to know what the interviewer was really interested in, many candidates, he told me, tended to ramble on and on about themselves.

I suggested that when asked the very general request, “Tell me about yourself,”  he respond with the following question:  “I’d love to. I’m curious, is there any particular aspect of my background, education or experiences that you’d like me to focus on?”

Invariably, my nephew told me, the interviewers had something in mind, and they would immediately come back with a more specific question. The result? His interviewers felt like they got what they wanted out of the conversation, and enjoyed the experience of meeting him that much more. And he won a highly sought-after residency, at a top hospital, in his desired specialization.


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