Background: The interview process represents a necessary but potentially resource intensive process from applicant and program perspectives. This study aimed to identify opinions of the 2020 Fellowship Council (FC) application and match process and in-cycle transition to virtual interviews due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Methods: Surveys were developed to assess the interview process and were distributed by the FC to all applicants and fellowship programs. Completion was voluntary and data (median [IQR] reported) were anonymous. Results: Applicant response was 53%. Applicants submitted 27.5 (13.25–40) applications, were offered 10 (4–17) interviews, and ranked 10 (5–15) programs. Due to COVID-19, 74% of interview plans changed. Applicants completed 30% of their planned in-person interviews. For decision-making, 90% felt that in-person and 81% virtual interviews were sufficiently informative. Expected cost was $4750 ($2000–$6000) vs. actual cost $1000 ($250–$2250), (p < 0.05). Expected missed work-days were 10 (5–16) versus actual 3 (0–6.25) (p < 0.05). For future interviews, 44% of applicants preferred in-person after virtual pre-interviews, 29% preferred virtual only, and 18% preferred in-person only. Program response was 38%. Programs received 60 (43–85.5) applications, offered 20 (15–26) interviews, completed 16 (12.5–21) interviews, and ranked 14 (10–18) candidates. For decision-making, 92% of programs felt in-person versus 71% virtual interviews were sufficiently informative. Person-hours were greater for in-person 48 (27.5–80) versus virtual 24 (9–40) interviews (p < 0.05). For future interviews, 38% of programs preferred in-person after virtual pre-interviews, 31% preferred in-person only, and 21% preferred virtual only. Conclusion: Despite pandemic changes, 81% of applicants and 71% of programs felt they gained sufficient information from virtual sessions to create rank lists. Virtual interviews had lower costs and fewer missed work-days for applicants and decreased resource usage for programs. The majority of both groups preferred either solely virtual or virtual pre-interview followed by in-person interview formats. Virtual interviews should be incorporated into future fellowship application cycles.
- Fellowship Council
- Match process