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 medical residency interview and the actual date of the interview can be one of the most stressful periods in your entire career 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 Residency Interview Question: Why Should We Choose You Over Other Candidates?

There are thousands of applicants to U.S. medical residency programs every year. What makes you stand out?

This is a common interview question for an opening in any industry. This is not a question about your life circumstances or qualitative statements about your personality. If the program director is asking you this question, they are giving you the opportunity to sell yourself.

Elevator Pitch

It’s been said that if you can’t write a short letter, write a long one—the idea being that it’s much harder to say a lot in brief than it is to say very little with too many words. When answering this question, write a short letter. Give them your “elevator pitch.”

In the business world, an elevator pitch refers to a brief value proposition that addresses the core of what you have to offer. It should be succinct enough to communicate in the duration of an elevator ride, easy to understand, and take somewhere between 15-45 seconds to communicate.

As it pertains to your medical residency interview, your elevator pitch is your personal medical brand. It’s a brief statement about what differentiates the way that you approach medicine. This can be a statement with concrete support as to the personal connection you have to a patient subpopulation. It can be a focused explanation of your attention to detail as it specifically relates to your specialty. You can elaborate on a core principle that you have as a person and how it relates to your practice of medicine.

Put some thought into this statement to communicate something meaningful about yourself and your career. Avoid generalized, vague, or cliched statements.

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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.