Bea Palileo, M.S., Benjamin Lin, M.D.
Here is a compiled list of previous interview questions, ordered roughly from most to least common, from our users who have gone through the ophthalmology interview trail. Before your first interview, practice with a mentor using this list or attend a mock interview at your medical school. Keep this list of questions handy and practice your answers while you are traveling for interviews throughout the trail.
- Tell me about yourself.
- Why ophthalmology?
- Application-specific questions (e.g. tell me about ____ from your CV)
- Why do you want to attend our program? What are you looking for in an ophthalmology program?
- What can you contribute to the program? Why are you a good fit?
- Do you have any ties to the area?
- What are you most proud of?
- What is your biggest accomplishment outside of medicine/academics?
- What makes you unique as an applicant?
- Tell me about a difficult time in your life. How did you overcome it?
- How do you deal with stress?
- Name three characteristics that your colleagues would use to describe you.
- What would your best friend say is your biggest strength and something you need to work on?
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
- What are your career goals for the future as an ophthalmologist? Where do you see your future in this field?
- What is the largest problem facing ophthalmologists today?
- What from your past experiences has prepared you for a career in ophthalmology?
- What do you want me to know about your application? Is there anything in your application that you want me to highlight to the board? (This was common for the interviewers that did not read your application.)
- Tell me something about yourself that is not on your application. Name something not on your application that could be seen as a weakness.
- Tell me about an attending you has that inspired you to want to be like them.
- Tell me about an attending or resident you had that you don’t want to be like.
- What would you do if you couldn’t do ophthalmology or medicine?
- What do you think will be the hardest part of starting residency?
- What makes a good ophthalmology resident?
- How do you know you’ll be a good surgeon?
- Name a time when you saw someone do something unethical. How did you react?
- Tell me about a time when you worked with a team. Tell me a time you were a detriment to a team member.
- Tell me a time you had a conflict with a peer.
- What do you do for fun? Tell me about your hobbies.
- If you were the senior resident, how would you approach an intern that is not performing well?
- Tell me about a time that you helped someone else.
- Tell me about a time when you asked for help.
- Tell me about an interesting patient case during your ophthalmology rotation.
- Tell me about a mistake you made.
- Tell me about a goal that you abandoned.
- Tell me about a time when you had an unpopular opinion.
- Do you have any updates since you submitted your application?
- How did your experience at your away rotations differ?
- What is your favorite song and why?
- If you can have lunch with anyone alive or dead, who would it be?
- Give me an example when you were criticized publicly; would you approach it the same way if you had criticism to give?
- What is your biggest pet peeve?
- What are your thoughts on ____? (insert controversial news topic)
- Do you think house staff should be unionized?
- Teach me something.
- What is a question you’ve prepared for, but haven’t been asked? Then, followed up with asking that question.
- If you were a tree, what type of tree would you be?
- Tell me a joke.
- Pimping questions about ophthalmology. Examples: What are the side effects of implanting a multifocal lens? Why would you put in a corneal suture during a cataract surgery? These can be unpredictable, but thankfully, these are rare.
Potential illegal questions
Though these are uncommon, there are a few illegal questions to be prepared for. The most common illegal questions are listed below.
- What other interviews do you have?
- How many interviews do you have?
- Are you dating? Do you have a significant other?
- Questions geared towards family planning.
Sample questions to ask
Here are some sample interview questions you can throw out when you get asked for the millionth time, “What questions do you have for me?”
- What is the culture of your program like?
- What changes do you see coming to the program in the next few years?
- What opportunities are there for residents to get involved in research/medical student teaching/community outreach/etc.?
- What is the board pass rate of your program?
- What advice do you have for new ophthalmology residents?
- What do most residents from your program do after residency (fellowship vs. practice)?
- What are faculty-resident relationships like?
- How is the surgical volume?
- What do you like to do in this area?
Remember that while you prepare responses to these questions, the delivery of the answer – strong eye contact, good body posture, and confidence – is equally as important as its content. That is why practicing is important. Most applicants find the behavioral questions most challenging since these tend to be more unpredictable. For these questions, prepare a few scenarios that you can adapt to multiple answers. It is easier to slightly modify a familiar answer to an unfamiliar question rather than thinking of a new scenario on the spot. Lastly, bring a positive attitude and treat everyone you meet on the trail with respect. A smile goes a long way in making great first impressions. This won’t be the last time you interact with your future colleagues and mentors throughout your career!
Check out this separate article for more general advice about how to plan for and succeed on the interview trail: https://eyeguru.org/blog/planning-for-ophtho-interviews/