By Pedram Mizani, MD, MHSA, family physician and chief clinical officer of the AmeriClerkships Medical Society

Published in Residency Program Alert* on September 2017

The period between your match for a residency interview and the actual date of the interview can be one of the most stressful periods in your entire transition. A week feels like a month; a month feels like a year. It’s common to find yourself second-guessing your every step while you wait in anticipation for the faithful day.

Calm down. Take a deep breath.

It’s normal to feel nervous about an event that you’ve invested so much time and effort into. However, with adequate preparation, you can walk into your interview with the excitement of starting a new chapter in your life and career, instead of the dread of providing the wrong answer. The key is to have an idea of what to expect and how to approach.

Common Medical Residency Interview Question: What Subspecialty do You Want to Pursue?

Like most of the questions in the interview process, your best bet is to do your research on the program at which you are interviewing. What subspecialties do they offer training in? The last thing you want to do is make it clear that your career path will take you away from the program where you want to complete your residency. On the other hand, failing to explain that you have long-term goals in your career can communicate a lack of drive.

You want to balance a view towards the future with your commitment to a residency program. Mention your interest with an eye towards the residency program where you are interviewing, without straying too far from the fact that you’re determined to make your primary contribution as an incoming resident with an eye to stick with the program.


Some specialties like surgery expect that you are entering with a subspecialty in mind as very few programs even offer training to become a generalist. In these cases, you should have a clear idea of your subspecialty.


Overton, R., & Dunleavy, D. (2017). The AAMC standardized video interview. [Webinar]. Retrieved from


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  • Published with permission from HCPro/Residency Program Alert. Also published on HCPro.
  • About Residency Program Alert: Residency program managers in all specialties are challenged to effectively manage their programs as accrediting agencies focus on outcome measures, the core competencies, proper documentation, resident supervision, and program, faculty, and resident evaluation. Add to those responsibilities the challenge to prepare for site visits, develop budgets for your program, and mitigate legal risks. Residency Program Alert is the source you need to confidently meet these challenges. This monthly resource provides residency managers with essential tips, tools, and best practices from the most well-respected, in-the-trenches experts. Dr. Pedram Mizani, the AmeriClerkships’ Chief Clinical Officer, is a writer and contributors to Residency Program Alert.