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SOAP Interviews: Common Questions

Medical Residency Application & Interview Preparation Specialists

All programs will interview students during SOAP before they offer any position to them. However, due to the time constraints placed on them by the process, and the need for greater efficiency, questions are likely to be a little less granular than they otherwise could be during the Main Match process. In other words, you should expect many of the same ‘main’ questions to come up, covering core attributes and ensuring that faculty receive insight into who you are, but some other, more minor areas to remain outside the remit of the interview process for SOAP. I would expect questions on areas like your motivation for the specialty, your previous performance at medical school, your experience in clinical environments and in research, your broader personal interests, and your personal attributes and strengths. I would expect relatively less time to be devoted to pimp questions or granular questions on your research, for example – there simply isn’t likely to be time over a 15-20 minute phone call or online interview. However, this will depend on the program, of course. Some will have an interview format which is relatively more similar to that seen during the Main Match, whilst others are more likely to use a shorter, more perfunctory interview format.

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SOAP Interviews: Example Questions

Each of the following should be considered a ‘core’ interview question that could be asked at interview during SOAP. Many more are available through our Residency Interview Question Bank.

Tell me about the research that you have done.

I was able to take on a variety of research whilst at medical school, focused on Psychiatry. In particular, I was able to look at how art therapy is of benefit in children with ASD, and followed this work with a paper, where I was a research assistant, that was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry. We conducted a systematic review looking at 1985 – 2012, studying eighteen descriptive case studies, which we analysed using the Context Outcomes Art Therapy model. Our results indicated that art therapy can lead to a more flexible attitude and better self image. Research enabled me to better my data interpretation and processing, work with others to achieve something that I felt was truly of benefit for many others, and to understand Medicine beyond its core hands-on, clinical component. Research fits with my own interest in becoming a true clinician-scientist.

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What are your strengths? List three, briefly.

My three strengths that I would highlight are resilience, empathy, and analysis. My ability to come back or push through challenging situations has been core to my success so far in life – whilst I am lucky to have had great grades at school and a relatively smooth journey to medical school, family problems at medical school meant that I had to find a renewed focus and truly push myself in order to get to where I am now. All doctors need resilience, and a realistic appreciation of the challenges of the career, to succeed. I believe that I am highly empathetic – I provide support to patients, colleagues or friends, and am easily able to understand when others need help, when they would rather have time to themselves, etc. This in turn allows me to better develop trusting and caring relationships. My ability to analyse has been key for me at medical school – whether that’s analysing a patient’s case, or analysing a topic and understanding what’s important for future clinical work. I expect that it will continue to prove vital as I progress onward.

 

What are your interests?

My principal interests – outside of Medicine of course – are fitness and running, boxing, and literature. My sporting activities allow me valuable time to myself in which I can challenge myself in a purely physical manner. I find that this offers me a distraction from work-related or academic stress, and in turn allows me to relax. I therefore enjoy sports both as a pursuit for my mental health, and for their own challenge – in terms of running, for example, I ran the Marathon des Sables last year, which is reputed to be the most challenging footrace on earth. Literature allows me to try to understand people better, and the human condition – I’m the head of my medical school’s literary society as well, so for me reading is not just an individual pursuit. Rather it’s a gateway to experiences that can be shared with others.

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