If You Build It, Will They Come? Candidate Completion of Preinterview Screening Assessments

J Surg Educ. Nov-Dec 2019;76(6):1534-1538. doi: 10.1016/j.jsurg.2019.05.006. Epub 2019 May 31.


Introduction: Residency applicant screening practices are inefficient and costly. However, programs may not consider using alternative assessments for fear that candidates will be "turned off" by additional hurdles in the application process. This study explores the relationship between candidate completion of preinterview screening assessments, applicant examination scores, and program factors.

Methods: Applicants to any of 7 general surgery residency programs were invited to take a preinterview online assessment. Program characteristics and applicant United States Medical Licensing Exams scores were considered in relation to each program's assessment completion rate.

Results: A total of 2960 applicants were invited to take the assessment and 97% (2870/2960) completed it. Program completion rates ranged from 95% to 98%. There was no correlation between program characteristics and applicant completion rates. Candidates who did not complete the assessment had significantly lower United States Medical Licensing Exams scores.

Conclusions: Incorporating preinterview assessments to objectively measure candidate competencies and fit will not detract applicants from a general surgery program.

Keywords: Interpersonal and Communication Skills; Professionalism; Systems-Based Practice; recruitment; residency; screening; selection; situational judgment test.

MeSH terms

  • General Surgery / education*
  • Internship and Residency*
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Personnel Selection / methods*
  • United States