Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, most residency interviews went virtual. This was a quick transition from in-person interviews and medical graduates had to manage the switch. This year residency interviews are going to be mostly virtual again. As an educational organization, we have had our hand in helping countless students with interview prep, and have provided our expertise to assist dozens of candidates to successfully get into medical residency.
Let’s break down the benefits and drawbacks of virtual interviews.
The amount of money and expenditure that is needed for travel expenses to interview is overbearing for most medical school graduates. The change to online residency interviews saves the interviewee money. On average medical residency applicants spent a total of $2500 for travel and lodging at in-person interviews. Preparing for a virtual interview involves the bare minimum: getting a ring light and good internet service. With just investing in those items a student spends a couple of hundred dollars. The cost savings are immediate, not to mention the time and stress saved by not traveling to each program's location.
Virtual interviews provide flexibility to applicants if they have clashing interview schedules as well. It's now possible to interview with a program in Seattle and a program in Florida on the same day.
Having a one-on-one interview in person can give a medical graduate a sense of connection when applying for residency. Not only do they “experience” the interview with a program director, but interviewees may also get to interact with peers and future mentors at a dinner or social gathering. A virtual interview just isn’t the same. Virtually visiting where the residency is is not the same as actually being there. If you're going to spend 3 to 5 years in residency, you had better like the town.
You also must make sure you can have your virtual interview in a quiet environment without disturbances. A quiet room or area in your home is ideal, with good lighting - either natural through a window, or from indirect light that won't make you appear flat on camera. Noisy family members or pets, or other disturbances, should be minimized during your interview.
Technical difficulties also can pose a problem. Check your internet connection and try a test call with friends or family before your scheduled interview. You want to make sure that your connection doesn't lag or pixelate, and that the audio does not drop out of the call.
What should you expect in the future?
A 2020 survey of medical students and residents in Texas asked for their interview type preference - a majority of them liked in-person interviews. They also noted that the ease and convenience, in addition to the cost and stress avoided by virtual interviews, made video calls appealing. A hybrid approach was best: in-person for those who could make the trip, and online for those who couldn't. This is what we're seeing now in 2023 - a combination of approaches, tailored to the needs of each program or candidate.
We know the ins and outs of residency interviews, and can save you the trouble and worry usually associated with them. Our one-on-one interview prep programs make it easy to get ready for your shot at a residency. Book a free consultation with our Residency Specialist Counselors and get started today.
Revised January 9, 2023.