Background: Because of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, graduate medical education programs adopted virtual interviews (VIs) as the default modality for the 2020 recruitment season. It is unknown whether VIs allowed applicants to effectively evaluate programs, and the best interview format for the future is unclear. Objective: To 1) assess pulmonary and critical care applicants’ perceived ability to evaluate programs using VIs, 2) determine the attitudes of applicants toward the components of VIs, and 3) identify applicants’ preferences for the future fellowship interview format. Methods: After the National Residency Matching Program medical subspecialty match, an electronic survey was sent to 1,067 applicants to pulmonary and critical care medicine programs asking them to compare their fellowship VI experience with their residency in-person interview (IPI) experience. Results: Three hundred six (29%) applicants responded to the survey, and 289 completed it (27%). There were 117 (40%) women and 146 (51%) White individuals.
program. They believed they were able to evaluate the clinical experience, curriculum, and potential for academic development equally well compared with IPIs. The most helpful elements of VIs were the interview with the program director, meetings with the fellows, and interviews with faculty members. Less helpful elements included conference access, prerecorded program director presentations, virtual hospital and city tours, and video testimonials. One hundred twenty-three respondents (43%) chose VIs with an optional visit as their preferred future interview format, 85 (29%) chose IPIs, 54 (19%) wanted a choice between VIs and IPIs, and 27 (9%) chose VIs only. Conclusion: Most pulmonary and critical care medicine applicants preferred future interviews to include both VIs and the option of an in-person visit or interview. This study can assist programs in designing their future interview formats in a trainee-centric fashion.