Do not be surprised if interviewers ask you what you do for fun. While programs want to assess the academic, research, and clinical qualifications you have as an applicant, they also want to get to know you. Most programs don’t want robotic residents. You will be interacting with the same attendings, residents, and fellows at an institution anywhere from 3-7 years. Given the amount of time you spend working with others, people want to spend that time with multi-faceted, interesting co-workers.
When programs ask what you do for fun, prepare a well developed list of items you can speak on. These can include anything: hobbies, activities, and extra-curriculars. These may include your hobbies and interests that you list on your ERAS application or they can be separate.
Allow for the Conversation to Evolve
In answering this question, you may encounter unique areas of mutual interest between you and the interviewer which may transform into more in depth tangents from the actual interview itself. Let these conversations progress organically. There were a couple individual interviews where I almost exclusively talked about activities I enjoyed doing outside of medical school. If these conversations don’t develop, do not worry. Just because the interviewer doesn’t paint watercolors for fun or follow the same sports team you do does not mean that it affects your chances of matching at that program in any way.
Be yourself. This is the class of question where you have the opportunity to let your personality and what is unique about you shine through. Think carefully about how you want to present yourself and be genuine in your responses.
Refrain from insinuating that you don’t do anything fun outside of the hospital. This gives the impression of a one dimensional person who is at a heightened risk of burnout in residency. All other things equal, programs prefer an applicant that brings more than just a strong academic record and high volume research productivity to the field. That same applicant with a more well-rounded personal life is a much stronger fit into any program. Don’t make up activities just for the sake of having them. Interviewers may ask you about specific details, so be sure you can speak specifically and generally about any activity.
Questions such as “What do you do for fun?” help interviewers gain an introspective view into your daily life, your well-being, and who you are as a person. Be yourself and let the conversations develop naturally.
What do you enjoy doing for fun? Comment below.