We are not the first. Many industries have been using online interviews for candidate screening for a while now. Yet, we, in the medical field, have shunned using these technologies for resident interviews for years. As physicians, we have felt the interpersonal connection of a live in-person interview was critical for candidate selection. Now, for the first time this year, the pandemic will force radiology residencies, like all other medical subspecialty training programs, to follow suit.
But, what do we gain and what do we lose by ending the in-person interview process? Are residencies going to recruit a higher percentage of unprofessional or incompetent residents? Or, are we going to discover that the format of the interview matters less than we ever thought in the first place? Lots of questions remain up in the air for this year. So, let’s talk about some of these issues by discussing some of the benefits and disadvantages of the online interview process. Then, we will end off by coming up with some hints for prospective interviewers and predictions for this interview season.
Advantages Of Online Interviews
Saves Tons of Cash
Fourth-year medical students are some of the most debt-laden medical professionals out there. By this time, many have accrued hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt. In the past, programs expected them to shell out umpteen more dollars to attend an interview. No longer. Save on your travel and interview expenses, rapidly adding up to thousands of dollars.
All that time that went into travel before, now you can use it for other purposes. Whether you desire to catch up on Netflix or study a bit more for exams, additional “me” time is always useful.
“Decreased Pressure” For The Interview Candidates
Indeed, in previous years, live in-person interview situations were a bit more nerve-racking. Of course, with the new online changes, lack of this direct pressure can lead to false comfort levels in the online setting. However, there will be no more sitting and chatting with colleagues in the seats next to you, drumming up your anxieties before your interview!
Disadvantages Of Online Interviews
More Difficult To Get A Feel For The Program
Residency directors and chief residents will now have a tighter grip on the interview process. They will be able to show you more what they want you to see- no more wandering around the premises to figure out what happens in the hospital. You will only get online tours, carefully curated to ignore all the negatives. Moreover, you won’t get a chance to talk to that disgruntled resident in the corner. It will make it that much more challenging to make a final choice!
Also, you will miss meeting anyone in the program, not on the Zoom meeting. These include other physicians, residents, program coordinators, technologists, and more. From my experience, critical staff such as these can also make your residency a delight or a misery.
Harder For Programs To Get At The Real Candidate
The longer you stay in an interview situation, the more likely your real personality will shine. If you get bored quickly and are at the live program director’s lecture, you are much more likely to start using your cellphone. Now, with only a few online interviews for 15 minutes apiece, it will be easier to maintain your cool without lapsing. And, you can have the program director only see what you want! But on the other end for the interviewers, it will be harder to catch the nuances of both candidate and program director personalities alike. That sidewards glance or frown can be much more difficult to detect in a Zoom meeting. Or, we can no longer detect an unkempt smell. It is just not the same. Programs may not get what they bargained for when they match prospective candidates for the following year.
So What Should You Do To Make Online Interviews Worthwhile? (Hints For Online Interviewers)
You need to treat the interview as you would if you were going to an on-site interview. Maintain the same dignity and decorum as you have otherwise. A lapse in judgment or the wrong statement can throw a wrench in the process just as it would have done in years past. By that same token, I would recommend you take a look at some of my previous blogs on this subject, such as Ten Ways To Sabotage Your Radiology Interview and How Important Is My Radiology Interview, Really? And don’t wear a fancy top or suit and forget to wear pants even though you are online. You never know. You may accidentally stand up and show your briefs!
Predictions For This Interview Season. Will These New Radiology Residents Be Better Or Worse?
In general, interviews are sometimes helpful to weed out candidates that don’t fit the mold of a particular residency. For the most part, I believe that these online interviews will mostly give the same information about candidates as in years past. Candidates will usually put on their best airs regardless of the interview forum.
However, this year, we may see a candidate or two slip through the cracks that would not have made it past the interview process in the past. We may miss some subtle hints, more evident in an in-person forum. But, I believe this to be a very, very small percentage of the total candidate pool. Most likely, this will be hearsay and conjecture anyway, because it is complicated to measure the quality of the candidates in any given year to the previous ones. Nevertheless, I will wait and see this year’s results. The truth will eventually come out!
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