How to Prepare for Your Optometry Residency Interview

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Residency interviews can be nerve racking, but if you go to them prepared ahead of time, then maybe you will be a little less nervous (or maybe not!).

There are several things you should keep in mind, and make a priority to go in prepared:

1) Research the Optometry Residency Program

Do a little research on the program by going to the program’s website and looking at what they have to offer and who the doctors are that work there. You never know who might be sitting in on your interview, so read everyone’s “about me” section and try to figure out what their specific optometry interest is.

You might have something in common that you can bring up to chat about.

2) Dress Appropriately

Now, you also need to think about what to wear.

We all know it is important to wear nice, crisp, clinic attire (not wrinkled from being packed in your suitcase), but take it a step further and consider adding another element to your outfit. You could wear one lapel pin on your blazer to be a possible talking point if THEY mention it, or you could research the practice or school’s colors and add a small pop of that color to your outfit.

A word of advice: don’t deck yourself out in their theme colors like it’s spirit night at your favorite sporting event; keep it simple and subtle.

3) Preparing for the Residency Interview

Next, let’s talk about the actual interview.

Be prepared to answer some general questions about yourself. Practice a response beforehand with a friend so you are not sitting there trying to think about how to respond during the interview. Make sure to talk about your special interests and what makes you unique and best suited for the position versus someone else.
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If you can, bring something that you can leave with them that sets you apart. For example, I brought a copy of an article that I had written. I understand not everyone has written articles, but you could bring a copy of your research or a relevant case report that you wrote and are proud of.

It’s even better if it’s something related to that specialty.

During the interview, it’s possible you could be asked some optometry-related questions, or go over cases and be asked how you would manage that particular case. Most of the time, they just want to see how you think.

Remember that your interviewers understand that you will be nervous during the interview.

They could ask to watch you perform a specific optometry skill (worse case scenario – you have to do 3 mirror gonio with 4 published doctors breathing over your shoulder! OK, so I doubt that will happen, but the whole point is to be prepared), or to identify some diseases through pictures.

Just be ready for any possibility.

Make sure you have a list of questions for the residency director and the residents as well. It is never good to say “No” when they ask if you have any questions.

Below is a list of some general questions, written by past resident of ICO and past Treasurer of AOSA, Jessilin Quint, O.D. to help you prepare.

Possible questions from the interviewer:

  1. Tell me about yourself.
  2. Why do you want to pursue a residency?
  3. How did you become interested in this particular residency program?
  4. What are your career and personal goals?
  5. Tell me about your rotation/internship experiences.
  6. Tell me about the types of cases you managed.
  7. Tell me about your hobbies. How do you spend your free time?
  8. What questions do you have for me?

Questions to ask the residents:

  • What do you think of the overall program? Are you still happy with how it turned out?
  • What are some pros and cons that you’ve experienced?
  • Which is your favorite site (if the residency you are applying to has multiple locations)?
  • What are the typical patient demographic/conditions that you are treating?
  • Do you have a lot of freedom with your patients?
  • Do you have any didactic responsibilities outside of clinic
  • How do you like the overall area in terms of the living and social environment?

Questions for you to ask the faculty:

  1. What type of opportunities do the residents generally earn from here?  Do they go into private practice, VA/hospitals, academia?
  2. How many patients do the residents see by the end of their residency?
  3. Is there a journal club/literature review?
  4. Can the resident integrate their own specific interests into the residency program? (How much flexibility is there?)

Since you will be prepared, the interview will go smoothly.

A day or two after the interview, make sure to send a hand written thank you note to the interviewer for taking the time to get to know you and answer any questions you might have had.

Good luck!

Watch this video on why this new grad chose a residency over a job opportunity!

About Keylee Brown

Keylee Brown
Keylee graduated from IAUPR in 2015 and was very involved with organized optometry. She held several positions in the AOSA as trustee-elect, trustee, the AOSA national secretary, editor of the Foresight magazine and AOSA liaison to optometrystudents.com. Keylee worked a year after graduation in private practice then got offered a residency in ocular disease and pre/post ocular surgery management. In her free time she enjoys traveling with her husband, hiking, and crossfit.

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