Tell me about this specific research project.

While interviewers often ask general questions, they may also ask about individual lines on your CV such as a specific research project or other activity. This possibility is one reason to know every detail that is listed on your CV.

If asked about a specific research project, there are several items of information you should include in your response. Structure your response like you would format an abstract. This is a great way to organize your thoughts and answer in a clear and concise manner.

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Contextualize the research project or publication for the interviewers. Provide them with brief details of the project including the name of the study, when you participated in it, and who else was involved.


When discussing any research project in any setting, it is important to categorize the study based on its methodology (case report, retrospective chart review, controlled experiments in a murine model, etc). Include quick descriptors such as the sample size and primary data points. Unless it is especially important to describing your project, in interview questions it is okay to forgo mentioning the type of statistical analysis you performed.


Succinctly stating the main finding or overarching theme from the results of your study is crucial. There are often so many different stats or numbers you could cite. Refrain from listing them roboticly. Leave the minutia out for another time and another setting. Synthesize your results into a succinct, compact package that captures the essence of your study. This section should be the bulk of your answer. The manner in which you speak is telling for your involvement and ownership of the project.

“In order to sell yourself to residency programs, you have to know yourself.”

Dr. Carter J. Boyd, Founder, Med Student Edge

Your Involvement

Because it is an interview, be sure to highlight why you were so integral to the project. Include a mention of your role (data collection, writing the IRB, statistical analysis, or drafting the manuscript). If you can not speak intelligibly about the project or your involvement in it, then you probably should not list it on your CV. This is already something programs are looking out for. Of course, if you contributed to a project in any meaningful capacity you deserve to get credit for it.


Prepare, prepare, prepare. If there was a project you collected data on way back as a first year medical student and really don’t remember what the project was about, you need to review it briefly and write a summary sentence or two that you can continually review during the interview season. In order to sell yourself to residency programs, you have to know yourself. You get to know yourself by reviewing backwards and forwards every single line on your CV and being ready to discuss each one.

Are you prepared to discuss each line on your CV? How will you be preparing for interview questions similar to this? Join the discussion and comment below.

Back to more interview questions and structured responses.

Carter J. Boyd, MD, MBA
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