Google Internet searches on residency applicants do not facilitate the ranking process

J Emerg Med. 2013 May;44(5):995-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2012.09.032. Epub 2013 Jan 23.


Background: Information used by program directors (PDs) to evaluate and rank residency applicants is largely limited to the Electronic Residency Application Service and the interview day. The Internet represents a potential source of additional data on applicants. Recent surveys reveal that up to 90% of United States (US) companies are already using the Internet to post jobs and to screen candidates. However, its use in residency applicant evaluation is not well studied.

Objective: We hypothesize that the Internet, through the use of a Google search, will provide useful information to PDs in ranking applicants.

Methods: This prospective observational study was completed by six Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education-accredited Emergency Medicine residency programs. After the interview process, programs formed their rank order list in their usual fashion. Then participating programs performed a Google search on applicants from their list. A standardized search was used and information reviewed was limited to the first two Google pages. The main outcome measure was change in an applicant's status on the rank order list. Change in status was based on the judgment of the individual program's PD.

Results: A total of 547 applicants were reviewed. The time for review of information was 4,386 min total and a mean of 7.2 min per resident. Position on the rank order list was changed for three applicants; two moved up on the list and one moved down. Four programs made no changes. No applicants were removed.

Conclusions: The Internet, through the use of a Google search, did not appear to provide useful information in a time-effective manner to PDs in ranking applicants.

MeSH terms

  • Emergency Medicine
  • Faculty, Medical
  • Humans
  • Internet
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Job Application*
  • Personnel Selection / methods*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Search Engine*
  • United States