Interview question- Why are you interested in this program? 5 tips to research a program before your interview

Recently, I interviewed an IMG for a university-based IM residency program. I asked her, why are you interested in this program?

Her answer was ” because this program gives strong clinical teaching with exposure to varied pathologies in addition to excellent research opportunities and fellowships after graduation”

It was a decent answer. But it gets interesting from here.

Since she had done a rotation in another university program before, my follow up question to her was:

Why are you interested in this program over the other program you did your observership at?

She thought for a second, said she liked the city this program is in and after a pause, said she did not get an interview at the other program.

She is being very honest here. She is excited about this university program because it is a university program and she does not have an interview at the other university program close to this one.

But that is not what the PD wants to hear. He is looking for genuine interest in his program. He wants to know what makes his program special. He has worked very hard to get the program the reputation it has and he wants candidates who are going to respect and maintain that reputation. This is what school spirit is about in the US.

So how do we show that same spirit for the program if we did not do undergraduate there, don’t have siblings or family in the city or have not done a bunch of rotations/research in the program?

You do it by researching the program.


Not just, how many residents it has, what rotations you do in the first year, where did the PD do his residency etc. But go deeper than that. Program’s website has all the hidden information you need to ace the interview. It’s your job to find this information and use the words that they use on their website in your answers.

5 tips to quickly and thoroughly reviewing the program’s website

Look at the following sections in the program’s website:

1. Director’s message page– Take a note of what the program’s core values are, what are they proud of, what are the unique features of the program per the PD

2. Rotations– Look up how long and frequent the rotations are for your field of interest (eg. primary care- at least 3 months of outpatient clinic per year with an option to do a few more away outpatient rotations each year)

3. Alumni– Where have the previous residents gone after their graduation. If this is not listed on their website, ask other residents during pre-interview dinner.

4. Faculty and staff– Quickly glance at faculty bios to see if they specialize in something (ID, geriatrics, HIV etc) or are they all IM docs. If they specialize, you can say you would learn so much from all these attendings who are specialists in their fields. If they are all internists, you can say you are excited to learn from experienced internists or pediatricians who have probably seen all kinds of patients by now by working in such a busy institution.

5. Location– Say something about the city the hospital is located in (beautiful outdoors, bustling big city, a quaint small town with a familial community environment etc.), the type of population the hospital services (indigent population, immigrants, a wide variety of patient types due to multiple satellite clinics residents go to etc)

If you want to see a video of me researching a pediatric residency program quickly and use the information to prepare for an interview, sign up here.

I use to carry a Residency Program Research Template (RPRT) during my interviews. At the hotel the night before, I would quickly research the program using this template. It was super quick and very thorough. Get my free RPRT that you can use to research a program systematically before your interview. This will save time, keep you organized and give you all the unique valuable information about the program that no other IMGs will have

Download my Free Residency Program Research Template now.
An easy to use tool to quckly and thoroughly research a program before interview so you can prepare your answers well

One thought on “Interview question- Why are you interested in this program? 5 tips to research a program before your interview

  1. I sent you a Dropbox link with the RPRT and other very valuable resources and tools for residency application. Let me know if you didn’t get it.

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