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What Program Directors Look For When Extending Interviews

In the thick of Interview Season, you might wonder how Program Directors decide which applicants will be extended an interview and why. While a multitude of factors go into their consideration and ultimate decision, certain aspects of your application are considered more widely across programs and with more significance attached to them.

The NRMP Program Director Survey results of 2018 organize these factors according to the percentage of programs that cited them as well as their rating of significance on a 5.0 scale. For example, the factor with the highest percentage of program citations is the USMLE Step 1 / COMPLEX Level 1 score, with 94% of programs citing it as a factor they consider when deciding which applicants will be invited to an interview. However, the significance rating of this factor is 4.1, indicating it is not necessarily the most important factor considered.

The two factors noted on the survey with the highest rating of significance are any failed attempt in USMLE/COMPLEX with a rating of 4.5 and citation percentage of 70%, and evidence of professionalism and ethics with a rating of 4.5 and citation percentage of 65%. 

The factors cited by more than 75% of Program Directors when considering to whom they will extend interviews are as follows:

  • USMLE Step 1/COMPLEX Level 1 score = 94%, 4.2 rating
  • Letters of recommendation in the specialty = 86%, 4.2 rating
  • Student Performance Evaluation (MSPE/Dean’s Letter) = 81%, 4.0 rating
  • USMLE Step 2 CK/COMPLEX Level 2 CE score = 80%, 4.0 rating
  • Personal Statement = 78%, 3.7 rating
  • Grades in required clerkships = 76%, 4.1 rating

As you can see, not all programs consider all of the same factors, but some factors carry more weight than others. The highest percentage of interviews are extended in October, with a steady decrease in the following months. If you have not yet received an invitation to any interviews, it might be beneficial to review your standing in each of the categories listed above. Perhaps this might give you some insight into what aspects of your applications might need improvement, now that you know what Program Directors are looking for. If you have already received an invitation, it’s time to get prepared!

When it comes to interviews, Residents Medical is here to help. If you’re looking to make sure you stand out as an excellent candidate, utilize our Interview Prep services!

Are You Next?™ 


Source: National Resident Matching Program, Data Release and Research Committee: Results of the 2018 NRMP Program Director Survey. National Resident Matching Program, Washington, D.C. 2018.