26 FEBRUARY 2022

Prepared By: Jasleen Saini, BSc. (Hons), MD candidate (2022) – Senior Blog Manager; jasleen.saini@usask.ca

Questions by: Dr. Oren N. Gottfried, MD – Neurosurgeon, Spine Surgeon
Duke University, Durham, North Carolina, USA

CaRMS Neurosurgery Residency Interview Preparation

It’s that time of the year again! CaRMS applications are submitted, reference letters are in, interviews have been accepted, and medical students across Canada are getting ready to virtually take on CaRMS 2022. All we can do now is some interview preparation. 

If the upcoming interviews have you stressed, just know that you are not alone! Being the second batch of medical students going through this process virtually, it’s important to remember that we are all in the same boat. 

To aid you in your interview preparations, I am delighted to share with you all some Neurosurgery specific residency interview questions that were kindly shared with the CaMSIGN team by Dr. Oren Gottfried. 

Feel free to use these questions as you prepare for upcoming interviews, share them with your friends applying to other specialties, and reach out with any additional questions. 

If you have any further tips and suggestions for this interview season, make sure to leave a comment in the comment section down below. 

Best of luck everyone!



Sample Neurosurgery Residency Interview Questions:

  1. What are you looking for in a program?
  2. How do you build camaraderie on your team?
  3. What would you change about your medical school education?
  4. Tell me about a family member or a friend who really inspired you?
  5. How do you define resilience in residency?
  6. Tell me about a mistake you made and how you learn from it and adapted? 
  7. How do you think someone Selects a subspecialty within  Neurosurgery? 
  8. Tell me something that would surprise us about you?
  9. Have you ever quit something and how does that make you feel now?
  10. If you’re in a bad situation do you get out of it or try to fix it?
  11. Tell me something that seemed impossible at the time that you were able to accomplish?
  12. Tell me about quality improvement projects you’ve worked on?
  13. How do you respond to negative feedback?
  14. Explain your main research findings in a way a patient could understand? 
  15. Why neurosurgery?
  16. Tell me something important about you not seen in your application?
  17. Teach me something really cool based on your research and publications?



  1. If you couldn’t be a neurosurgeon what would you be?
  2. Tell me about a surgery that really fascinated you?
  3. How do you cope with stress?
  4. Tell me about a personality trait that you are working to improve?
  5. Tell me about how you worked through a complex interpersonal issue?
  6. How do you promote work-life balance in your life?
  7. What sets you apart from the pack?
  8. Tell me about a hobby you really enjoy?
  9. How do you deal with unexpected or poor outcomes in a patient?
  10. What are you most proud of in what you accomplished in medical school and in college?
  11. How would you determine success when you graduate from residency?
  12. What scares you about neurosurgery?
  13. When did you know neurosurgery was for you and what helped clinch the deal?
  14. Tell me what makes a great patient encounter for you?
  15. How would you tell a patient they are not a candidate for surgery? 
  16. How do you deliver bad news to a patient or family?
  17. What do you do if you disagree with a resident or attending’s plan?
  18. Give me examples of how you put the patient first even when life is tough.




  1. What is your learning style and teaching style?
  2. Who inspires you?
  3. What areas of neurosurgery do you find most exciting?
  4. Tell me about a great mentor and how they helped you?
  5. What are your main life pillars or primary characteristics?
  6. How would others define you?
  7. Tell me about mentoring you do?
  8. What is a hobby you wish you had more time to do?
  9. Tell me about the last book you read?
  10. What kind of music do you like?
  11. Do you feel you can discuss unfair things with your team or mentors?
  12. What do you enjoy the most about research?
  13. How do you feel medicine and neurosurgery will change in the next 5 years?
  14. What do you predict will be the greatest advances in neurosurgery?
  15. What do you do with a coresident who is dishonest or incompetent?
  16. How will you deal with people on other teams screaming at you?
  17. What people would make good co-residents with you?
  18. When did you decide to pursue medicine?




  1. How do you relax?
  2. Can you turn off work when you get home?
  3. What are things about neurosurgeons that are misunderstood?
  4. Tell me examples of demonstrating leadership?
  5. If you are having a lousy day, how do you change things?
  6. Show me examples of being efficient and focussed with patient case presentations?
  7. What kind of food do you like?
  8. Do you have a plan of how to stay healthy mentally and physically in residency?
  9. What are some of your interests in the arts? If you could time travel to any event or to meet anyone in history what or who would it be?

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