Jan 15 / ThePlasticsFella

How to Prepare for Plastic Surgery Residency Interviews?

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MD Anderson 🏥 Mayo Clinic 🏥 Plastic Surgery Research Fellow
USMLE advisor
From Aleppo 🌞🇸🇾  to Rochester  ☃️🇺🇸  to Houston 🌞
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Plastic Surgery Residency interviews are an essential part of selecting applicants for residency spots. Based on the NRMP data, performance during the interview had the highest importance when ranking applicants as reported by program directors1.

Therefore, it is of extreme importance to prepare and perform well on the residency interviews to optimize the chances of matching. This article will go into the details of how one can leave a positive impression during your residency interview. 

Learn About the Plastic Surgery Residency Program 
Learn About Yourself before the Plastic Surgery Interview
Learn how to answer an Interview Question
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Learn About the Plastic Surgery Residency Program 

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The first thing that you need to do after being invited to a plastic surgery interview is to read about the residency program

Take time to learn about the faculty, their interests both in research and clinically, what the program stands for, the type of applicants they are looking for, the types of surgery they do, etc. You can use the program website, social media of the program, discussions with mentors who trained there or know about the program, or you can talk to recent graduates or residents from the program. This will provide you with valuable information about the program that can help you in your interview and will help you assess whether the program is a good fit for you. 

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Learn About Yourself before the Plastic Surgery Interview

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It might seem obvious but you need to talk comfortably about every single thing mentioned on your CV in the plastic surgery interview. 

Sometimes you might have things that you have done several years ago or papers you worked on a long time ago or that you did not take a major role in. However, as long as it is on your CV, it is fair game and people expect you to talk about it. If there is anything that you are uncomfortable discussing during the interview, make sure to collect information about it before the interview.

I have prepared a YouTube video on “How to Prepare for RESIDENCY INTERVIEWS?” with Dr. Timothy Irwin, a PGY5 plastic surgery resident at the Harvard Combined Program.

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What Are the Plastic Surgery Interview Questions? 

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There are three main types of interview questions in a plastic surgery interview.

The first one is the common interview questions to learn more about the applicant and their background and goals. These could include tell me about yourself, why are you interested in the specialty, why are you interested in this program, what makes you a great candidate, what are your weaknesses, what are your future goals? You might be asked these questions in every single interview, so prepare well and be careful not to seem rehearsed. Answer each question as if it was your first time answering the question.

I have prepared a YouTube video on “How to Answer Residency Interview Questions?” mainly the common ones mentioned above with Dr. Jordan Kaplan, a PGY3 plastic surgery resident at the Baylor Program. 

Another type of plastic surgery question is the behavioural questions.

These could include hypothetical or real-life situations that you have been through. These questions help the interviewer learn more about how you and how you would make decisions during residency. For example, tell me about a patient you learn something from, tell me about a miscommunication you had with the team, tell me about a story that demonstrates your leadership skills, etc.

And finally, questions that do not fall under any category. For example, tell me about the superpower you would like to have. The key to these questions is how you explain your answer rather than the exact answer you give. For example, if you chose flying, you have to make a good argument why are you interested in getting this superpower and try to tie it somehow to residency and characteristics needed for residency. These questions can also help the interviewer get an idea on how you react to uncomfortable situations or questions which is common during residency. 
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Be Yourself in the Plastic Surgery Interview 

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One important tip for residency applicants when interviewing is to be yourself.

Do not try to act differently in order to impress the program. Because even if you were successful, you will match in a place that does not fit your personality. Always remember that residency interviews are not only for residency programs to find the best fit, but also for you to find your best fit. So make sure to learn about the program and ask any questions that can help you choose your top program.
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Virtual Plastic Surgery Interviews

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We have recently published a paper in the Annals of Plastic Surgery regarding best practices for virtual interviews - check it hour here!

Also check my video on “How to Prepare for A VIRTUAL VIDEO INTERVIEW?”
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Here are some links for a webcam, microphone, and a ring light if you do not have high-quality audio or video on your computer. 


Finally, practice.. practice.. practice.

Do that with friends, family members, or yourself on zoom and continue to evaluate yourself and whether you like the way you present yourself. Using zoom recordings can be helpful for both virtual and in-person interviews. If in-person interviews became a reality again in the coming cycle, do in-person preparation in addition to virtual ones. 

In Summary

The key to a Plastic Surgery Interview is:
  • Learn about the program
  • Be comfortable with what is mentioned in your CV
  • Practice residency interview questions

Thank you for reading!

If you have an upcoming Plastic Surgery Interview, click below!


1. Results of the 2018 NRMP Program Director Survey. NRMP. June 2018. Available at: https://www.nrmp.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/NRMP-2018-Program-Director-Survey-for-WWW.pdf Accessed on: May 24, 2020.

2- Asaad, Malke MD; Rajesh, Aashish MBBSb; Kambhampati, Praneeth V. BSc; Rohrich, Rod J. MDd,e; Maricevich, Renata MDd Virtual Interviews During COVID-19, Annals of Plastic Surgery: November 24, 2020 - Volume Publish Ahead of Print - Issue - doi: 10.1097/SAP.0000000000002662
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