Medical school preadmission interviews: are structured interviews more reliable than unstructured interviews?

Teach Learn Med. 2010 Oct;22(4):241-5. doi: 10.1080/10401334.2010.511978.


Background: The medical education research literature consistently recommends a structured format for the medical school preadmission interview. There is, however, little direct evidence to support this recommendation.

Purpose: To shed further light on this issue, the present study examines the respective reliability contributions from the structured and unstructured interview components at the University of Iowa.

Methods: We conducted three univariate G studies on ratings from 3,043 interviews and one multivariate G study using responses from 168 applicants who interviewed twice.

Results: Examining interrater reliability and test-retest types of reliability, the unstructured format proved more reliable in both instances. Yet, combining measures from the two interview formats yielded a more reliable score than using either alone.

Conclusions: At least from a reliability perspective, the popular advice regarding interview structure may need to be reconsidered. Issues related to validity, fairness, and reliability should be carefully weighed when designing the interview process.

MeSH terms

  • Education, Medical / standards*
  • Educational Measurement
  • Educational Status
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic / methods*
  • Models, Statistical
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • School Admission Criteria*
  • United States