Virtual Interviews at Graduate Medical Education Training Programs: Determining Evidence-Based Best Practices

Acad Med. 2020 Dec 8. doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000003868. Online ahead of print.


The COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the nation's health care system, including on graduate medical education (GME) training programs. Traditionally, residency and fellowship training program applications involve in-person interviews conducted on-site, with only a minority of programs offering interviews remotely via a virtual platform. However, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is anticipated that most interviews will be conducted virtually for the 2021 application cycle, and possibly beyond. Therefore, GME training programs need to prepare for the transition to virtual interviews using evidence-based practices. At the University of California, San Francisco, a multidisciplinary task force was convened to review existing literature about virtual interviews and determine best practices. This article summarizes these findings, first discussing the advantages and disadvantages of the virtual interview format and then providing evidence-based best practices for GME training programs. Specifically, the authors make the following recommendations: develop a detailed plan for the interview process, consider using standardized interview questions, recognize and respond to potential biases that may be amplified with the virtual interview format, prepare your own trainees for virtual interviews, develop electronic materials and virtual social events to approximate the interview day, and collect data about virtual interviews at your own institution. With adequate preparation, the virtual interview experience can be high-yield, positive, and equitable for both applicants and GME training programs.