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Getting to Know You, Getting to Know All About You: Best Practices for Interviewing Fourth-Year Medical Students for Residency Programs

Kristine M. Diaz, PsyD

Kristine M. Diaz, PsyD

Thirty minutes. Thirty minutes to assess an applicant’s interpersonal and communication skills, emotional intelligence, reasons for applying to your residency program, determine if there are any red flags, talk about application materials (don’t forget to comment on that personal essay!), AND answer any questions the applicant has about your program. Oh, don’t forget to recruit for your program! Yeah. Thirty minutes. That’s all the time you get. Sounds, easy? Right?!

While many websites and online documents exist that address succeeding in residency interviews for applicants, there are no guidelines or best practices with conducting the residency interview for faculty members in residency programs. The lack of guidance in conducting the interview may lead to variability in the assessment of the applicant. This variability may also lead to a poor experience for the interviewee. How does one judge the fit of an applicant in a short amount of time?

Medical schools have developed varied approaches to the interviewing process for entry to medical school. Yet, residency programs appear to vary in their approaches to the selection process, particularly the on-site interview. A systemic and individual-based program approach may be considered in the interviewing process of applicants, using ACGME milestones and the interview itself as an opportunity to evaluate your program’s success in the development of a distinct health care professional in the competitive field of medicine.

Focus on these four areas to strengthen your residency’s interview process.

The mission, values, and goals of your residency program

Time should be spent as an entire faculty, discussing the mission, values, and goals of your residency program. ACGME accreditation standards provide a common foundation for all residencies to function and operate in the development of residents in training. However, your faculty and the program’s composition of residents and staff provide an opportunity to create its own identity as a program separating the lion from the crowd. Your identity as a program will help to generate a rubric to which you have made your selections for on-site applicant interviews.

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