Selecting the number of interview days

Residency Program Insider, September 4, 2019

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Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from Resident Recruitment: From ERAS to Match. For more information about this book, click here.

The first step in selecting interview dates is determining the number of dates needed to create a successful rank list and garner a positive Match outcome. You can select to interview the same number each year or alter the number based on the previous year’s outcome. For example, last year, you interviewed 100 applicants for 8 positions. The outcome of the rank shows that your program filled spot number 8 with candidate number 86. Interviewing 100 applicants next year based on applicant quality and preferences may not allow you to have a positive match outcome. With this example in mind, programs can utilize past Match outcome data to enhance future outcomes.

A word of caution, however: The Match is a complicated algorithm put in place to allow programs and applicants an equal chance of obtaining selected individuals/programs. With that being said, it is important for the program to have metrics to use to begin the process of determining the number of interview days. An article in the Journal of Graduate Medical Education discussed the relationship between the number of residency applications and the Match, and it highlights the competitiveness of the process. Applicants feel pressured to apply to a larger number of programs to increase the chance of matching into a program, but the surge in the number of applications creates issues for both the applicant and the programs (Weissbart et al., 2015).

Adverse effects of applicants who apply to a large number of programs include the following:

  • Added cost to the applicant.
  • Additional time commitments for programs to review and sort through applicant
  • materials.
  • Programs overlooking higher-qualified candidates due to the added time constraint of looking at a larger number of applicants, known as “application overload” fatigue. Additionally, qualified applicants may accept the maximum number of interviews that they can financially justify prior to a program reviewing and inviting them to interview (Weissbart et al., 2015)

Weissbart, S., Kim, S., Feinn, R., & Stock, J. (2015). Relationship between the number of residency applications and the yearly match rate: Time to start thinking about an application limit? Journal of Graduate Medical Education, 7(1).

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