• Virtual Residency Interviews: Questions and Answers

    Virtual interviews have long been the standard in some industries, but for most residency programs and Match interview candidates, their first introduction to them came in 2020 when all programs were called to hold interviews virtually.

    Like in-person interviews, virtual interviews have positives and negatives for candidates and programs. They are likely to remain a normal part of the Match interview process, even once the COVID-19 pandemic that made their widespread use necessary is no longer a concern. Here’s what to know about how virtual interviews work and how to make them work for you.

    How do virtual interviews work?

    There is no standard interview process or structure from program to program, which is true of both in-person and online meetings.

    There are four basic virtual interview approaches that you might encounter:  

    • Prerecorded interviews. One-way interviews where you record yourself responding to a set of standard questions.
    • Virtual interview days. Programs try to recreate the in-person experience, with the candidate meeting multiple faculty and residents over a few hours or more.
    • Asynchronous video interviews. Interviews held with representatives from the same program over a number of different times and dates.
    • Second-look interviews. Programs may invite some, or all, candidates back for an optional follow-up discussion toward the end of the interview season.

    Virtual interviews may also affect the application process leading up to the interview. To get more information about you before sending an interview invitation, a program may ask you to complete a secondary application, which is typically a written response to a follow-up question pertaining to your interest in the program.

    Virtual interviews may lead to a more geographically diverse mix of applications than in a typical year. These secondary applications give programs a stronger sense of an applicant’s specific interest in them.

    How do I prepare for virtual interviews?

    Virtual interview prep is largely the same as prep for an in-person interview, except instead of figuring out where to park, you’ll be thinking about where to position yourself for the best on-camera lighting.

    Follow all the same steps you would for any Match interview:

    • Prepare your questions. You can start with this list of questions for residency programs from the AAFP.
    • Practice answering some basic questions with friends or mentors.
    • Research the program and faculty.
    • Make sure you have all the day-of details down and any required paperwork sent to you by the program submitted.

    How do I make decisions about residencies if I don’t see them in person?

    Factors that help most students choose a program will still be apparent during online interviews when you ask insightful questions, listen intently, and take notes that help you reflect on each interview. Some of the factors you’ll want to consider include a supportive culture, values of program leadership, and personal rapport.

    Some students find that virtual interviews can be an asset to decision-making because they can help cut out distractors like stress about outfit or money spent on travel, anxiety about time away from school, and any oversized influence of hospital environment.

    Ranking residencies can be a lot of pressure. A resource like Strolling Through the Match is a good go-to resource for advice that will help you feel like you got it right.