Initial Experience with a Virtual Platform for Advanced Gastrointestinal Minimally Invasive Surgery Fellowship Interviews

Arnab Majumder, Shaina R. Eckhouse, L. Michael Brunt, Michael M. Awad, Francesca M. Dimou, J. Christopher Eagon, Sara Holden, Heather Fone, Jeffrey A. Blatnik

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic travel restrictions triggered a rapid alteration in the interview process for fellowships this spring. We describe our initial experience with virtual interviews for Advanced Gastrointestinal (GI) Minimally Invasive Surgery Fellowships and assess the value and limitations via a post-interview applicant survey. Study Design: Twenty candidates were interviewed via Zoom teleconferencing during March and April 2020 using combined group and breakout rooms. An anonymous post-interview Likert and free text survey was sent to candidates with questions regarding feasibility, appropriateness, and acceptability of this method. Results: Seventeen of 20 candidates (85%) responded to the survey. The candidates rated ease of interaction with the program director, faculty surgeons, and the current fellow highly: 94%, 83%, and 89%, respectively. The majority (53%) stated the virtual interviews exceeded or met expectations. Only a minority, 12%, reported the virtual platform was short of expectations. Approximately 70% noted little to no impact of not being able to conduct these interviews in-person and not being able to physically see the program institution. Overall, 94% were satisfied with their experience, and only 6% were neutral, with no respondents reporting dissatisfaction. Finally, 76% would recommend a virtual interview in the future. Most negative open response comments were secondary to issues with software rather than the lack of the in-person traditional interviews. Conclusions: The use of a remote teleconferencing platform provides a favorable method for conducting fellowship interviews and results in a high degree of candidate satisfaction. Virtual interviews will likely be increasingly substituted for in-person interviews across the spectrum of medical training.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)670-678
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the American College of Surgeons
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2020


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