Field-tested interview season process

Residency Program Insider, November 18, 2008

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This will be my third interview season. Each year, I learn a few new things from my colleagues on Residency Coordinator Chat, the HCPro, Inc. e-mail talk group. I’ve incorporated many of their ideas and improved upon how the process flows in our program. Here’s what we’ve come up with: feel free to beg, borrow, and steal!

For those of you new to the interview process, I find it most efficient to download applications every morning. With so many applications coming in, I like to get it out of the way right away before the day gets to hectic. I also immediately send those new applicants an e-mail confirming receipt of their ERAS application and supporting documentation. In this e-mail, I let the applicant know that members of the selection committee will review their application in the coming weeks and that we will contact them should we wish to schedule an interview. This helps alleviates the number of calls from applicants inquiring about the status of their application.

Last year, our selection committee decided not to extend interview invitations until after deans’ letters were sent out on Dec. 1. With only four positions and over 500 applications, we found this streamlined process greatly.

Although some thought this was a late start, the selection committee felt this helped us select the most qualified applicants. Our selection committee decided who they wanted to interview, and I sent all of the invitations out on the same day. Most of our interview slots were filled in three days. Of course, we get applications after Dec. 1, and the selection committee reviews those everyday. However, by this time, there are not many interview slots open.

Once I schedule the interviews, it’s time to focus on planning the logistics of interview day. We interview 6–7 candidates one day per week. The day begins at 9:00 a.m. with an hour-long introductory session with the candidate, our program director, and department chairman. We used to start earlier and provide a continental breakfast, but most applicants were too nervous to eat or had already had breakfast prior to arriving. Now, we only offer coffee and bottled water.

Next, each candidate meets with the program director, chief resident, and attending physician or member of the selection committee in separate meetings. Each interview lasts 15–30 minutes, and interviewers fill out candidate evaluation forms after each interview.

While candidate wait for their interviews, our other co-chief and residents chat with them. This gives applicants an opportunity to hear about the program in an informal setting. During any downtime moments, candidates review the following program materials:

  • Faculty bios
  • Fellowship positions of previous residents
  • General information, such as salary, vacation time, family, medical, and personal leave, professional liability insurance, and benefits
  • Resident names, contact information, and medical school information

Our chief resident then takes the candidates on a tour of the department, and then to lunch. In previous years, we’ve had candidates attend our noon conference. Having applicants attend the noon conference served no real purpose because there was no conversation taking place. In fact, after we fed them and put them in a warm room listening to a lecture, some would nod off. This, of course, was noticed and not looked upon too favorably.  

Therefore, in an effort to get to know the candidates better, we will now have candidates meet with residents over an informal lunch with residents only. After they finish eating, the interview is over. Candidates will be out the door by 1:30 p.m.

Planning out your interview timeline will help you manage your coordinator responsibilities, as well as provide a smooth process for potential residents at your organization.


Diane Slosser
Radiology residency coordinator
Bridgeport Hospital
Bridgeport, CT

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