Perceived effectiveness of video interviews for orthopedic surgery residency during COVID-19 | BMC Medical Education


This survey determined that the video interview platform for the 2020-2021 Orthopedic Surgery Residency Interview Season was initially perceived as inferior to traditional in-person interviews by applicants, residents and participants. However, after the interview season, perceptions improved overall and the favorable aspects of the video platform set a precedent for future interview seasons. Nonetheless, face-to-face interviews were still strongly favored by the vast majority of survey respondents.

Orthopedic surgery residencies place a high value on interpersonal interaction and personality fit within a program [23]. Therefore, it is not surprising that the initial preference for video interviews was low in this survey study. Although the video platform offers a viable alternative to in-person interviews in the right situations, [3, 6, 13, 16,17,18,19] a number of concerns were elucidated by the survey responses in this study. Most applicants were concerned about their ability to adequately portray themselves with a video interview format and felt that they would not be able to assess the culture of a residency program as well with video interviews as they were. with face-to-face interviews, which aligns well with previous literature. [6, 20, 21]. Residents and faculty were also concerned about their ability to assess fit using video interviews, a sentiment that was significantly reinforced after the interviews were conducted.

A strong desire to find candidates who fit well into a program’s culture is common in many specialties. In orthopedics, this desire is exemplified by the extreme weight placed on rotational visits, which allow residents and faculty members to assess a candidate’s non-cognitive skills, such as the ability to develop interpersonal relationships, communicate and function as a member of the team. [24]. It is an integral part of the program and the candidate to assess how well the candidate is compatible with the culture of a program. [23]. Compared to students who did no visit rotation, Baldwin et al. found that students who participated in just two outdoor rotations were 60 times more likely to be matched for orthopedic surgery [24]. This is evidenced in the responses to this study, which found that 100% of residents and participants were concerned that the lack of visit rotations would not allow the program to rank the best possible candidates. These results illustrate the impact of personal interactions in selecting the most compatible candidates for future residency positions.

Before the pandemic, several programs and specialties had already experimented with the video interview format with varying degrees of success. A study that randomized urology residency applicants to receive video or in-person interviews found that applicants and faculty preferred using video interviews as an adjunct to in-person interviews, despite the video interview format being perceived as generally less effective than traditional interviews. [17]. Similarly, in a study of gastroenterology fellowship applicants participating in both in-person and video interviews on the same day, 87% (14/16) maintained that video interviews were offered as an option and 81% (13/16) said video interviews met or exceeded their expectations [13]. A family medicine residency program used video interviews as a screening tool for applicants and found that the majority of interviewers and applicants thought video interviews should be part of the application process; however, neither candidates nor interviewers felt they should be the only way to interview [25]. Similarly, this study demonstrated that candidates were more supportive of a hybrid interview format and less strongly felt that in-person interviews were better for assessing culture and compatibility after interview season ended. Additionally, residents and participants were less concerned about the impact of video interviews on how applicants would rank their program and were less confident that in-person interviews were superior to video interviews for building relationships. Although in-person interviews have always been widely preferred by the majority of respondents, these results suggest that the 2020-2021 residency interview season may have increased the acceptability of the future use of video interviews in the application process. .

Several aspects of the video interview format were favorable to the participants, which are worth mentioning. Candidates reported that their financial burden from interviews had been significantly reduced compared to historical costs of in-person interviews, with more than half of candidates reporting spending less than $500 and the majority of candidates (80%) spending less than $500. $2,000. Compared to previous years, Fogel et al. brought in an average of $7,119 among 43 orthopedic residency applicants [14]. The video interviews also saved the program money and, on average, they were perceived as more convenient by all groups. When it comes to convenience, residents and faculty experienced fewer interruptions to daily workflow, and medical students experienced fewer conflicts with rotation schedules.

A potentially negative byproduct of this convenience and flexibility has led to applicants applying and interviewing in more programs, which is a common theme of video interviews in the literature. [3, 13, 14, 18]. The ease of submitting applications electronically was the initial catalyst for the dramatic increase in the number of applicants in all specialties, with some specialties nearly doubling their number of applications. [26]. While video interviews potentially improve candidate reach, it can come at a detrimental cost. Weissbart et al. determined that applying to more programs does not improve the match rate; rather, the authors suggest that it has increased the selectivity and competitiveness of certain specialties [27]. Therefore, it is possible that the already competitive field of orthopedic surgery will become even more so if video interviews are offered in the future.

There are several limitations to this study. Our survey took place at a single institution and examined data over one application cycle. Despite our best efforts, the response rate to our email surveys has never exceeded 60%, so the data presented is not representative of the entire applicant population at our institution or of the population of professors in the department of orthopedic surgery. Many students who responded to our surveys had never experienced in-person interviews for orthopedic surgery residency in the past, so they had no baseline against which to compare their video interviews. Additionally, those who applied to our institution are not representative of the entire population of orthopedic surgery residency applicants across the United States, which limits the generalizability of our data.

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