Virtual Interviews for the Independent Plastic Surgery Match: A Modern Convenience or a Modern Misrepresentation?

Research paper by Ravinder R Bamba, Neel N Bhagat, Phu C PC Tran, Evan E Westrick, Aladdin H AH Hassanein, William A WA Wooden

Indexed on: 23 Sep '20Published on: 23 Sep '20Published in: Journal of Surgical Education


The virtual interview for residency and fellowship applicants has previously been utilized preliminarily in their respective processes. The COVID-19 pandemic forced many programs to switch to a virtual interview process on short notice. In the independent plastic surgery process, which was underway when the pandemic started, applicants had a heterogeneous experience of in-person and virtual interviews. The purpose of this study was to assess if applicants prefer a virtual interview experience to an in-person interview as well as determine if virtual interview applicants had a different opinion of a program compared to the in-person interview applicants. The 2019 to 2020 applicants who interviewed at the Indiana University Independent Plastic Surgery program were administered an anonymous online survey about their interview experience at our program. Our survey response was 60% (18/30). The in-person interview group (n = 10) rated their overall interview experience higher than the virtual interview group (n = 8) 8.8 vs 7.5 (p = 0.0314). The in-person interview group felt they became more acquainted with the program, the faculty, and the residents more than the virtual group (4.7 vs 3.25, p < 0.0001) (4.3 vs 3.25, p = 0.0194) (4.3 vs 2.75, p < 0.0001). The majority of applicants favored in-person interviews (16/18, 88.9%). The in-person interview group spent significantly more money on their interview at our program compared to the virtual interview group ($587 vs $0, p < 0.0001). Our study demonstrated that the virtual interview process was an efficient process for applicants from both a financial and time perspective. However, the virtual interview process left applicants less satisfied with their interview experience. The applicants felt they did not become as acquainted with the program as their in-person counterparts. The virtual interview process may play a large role in residency and fellowship applications in the future, and programs should spend time on how to improve the process. Copyright © 2020 Association of Program Directors in Surgery. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.