What are the types of USMLE interviews?
There are seven major types of interviews that may be encountered on your USMLE Interview journey, these can be categorized as:
1. Traditional/ One on One Interview
2. Blinded Interview
3. Panel Interview
4. Group Applicant Interview
5. Multiple Mini Interviews
6. Virtual Video Interview
7. Telephone Interview
* Blended Interview which is any combination of the above seven formats.
In the United States of America, there are hundreds of residency programs, and each is unique, with their own ‘style and swagger’ when it comes to the USMLE interview process, some even change their format during the season. Hence, it is extremely important to be prepared for multiple styles and not to stumble at this final hurdle and fall out of the MATCH race but be prepared by the best at Healthy Waves
According to the NRMP Match data, the number one factor in ranking applicants is their performance during the USMLE residency interview.
At Healthy Waves- USMLE the American Dream, we are committed to your success, and we will prepare you to shine and be memorable on your BIG Interview Day. We will allow you to stand out from the crowd.
Below are some insights into the most common types of interview styles that you will encounter during your journey.
Traditional Interview Style
The most familiar format used is a one-on-one interview, usually conducted between one single interviewer and one single applicant.
In this traditional style, the interviewer has access to all the applicant’s ERAS data, for example CV, USMLE STEP scores, medical school transcript, personal statement, and letters of recommendation. You will be asked to clarify or elaborate on items noted in your USMLE application.
Consequently, you must be well prepared to address questions about strengths, weaknesses, and gaps in your resume.
Blinded Interview Style
Blinded interviews are, as the name suggests- ‘Blinded’. In this format, the interviewer does not know certain information about the applicant. For example, some objective data is omitted such as USMLE scores, medical school transcript. The interviewers may only have basic subjective information (personal statement and letters of recommendation) to review before your interview. The Blinded Style is used to help eliminate bias towards applicants with higher scores or ‘elite’ medical school names. Blinded interviews can be one on one or group format.
Panel Interview Style
Panel interviews are usually conducted between a panel of interviewers and one applicant. While this is the most intimidating interview format, it provides a perfect opportunity for you to get multiple viewpoints of the hospital and residency program. In addition, panel interviews are the most psychologically nuanced. On a panel of interviewers with varying levels of interviewing expertise, it is possible for residents or even junior faculty to try and impress more senior faculty members with their version of “good” questions.
Nevertheless, you can be successful with good preparation. The key is to breathe and remain calm and answer each question as you would in a one-on-one interview. It is imperative to connect with one or two individuals on a deeper level rather than trying to please everyone.
Group Applicant Interview Style
Group interviews create a more dynamic environment involving one or more interviewers with a small group of three or more applicants. Designed to see how well you interact in group settings, there are many factors at play in these interviews. To shine and be memorable, you must show respect, professionalism, and good listening skills.
Remember to be yourself- if you are introverted or extroverted then that is fine. Just don’t be obnoxious or arrogant and full of pride. If another applicant is acting obnoxious in the group, disassociate yourself from them immediately. You do not want to be associated with that person during the rank order list meeting. Finally, remember to be humble because pride comes before a fall.
Multiple Mini Interviews
Multiple Mini interviews is a newer technique being used by some programs. This has a similar format as USMLE Step 2 Clinical Skills exam or for movie fans like a series of short speed-dates: like the bachelorette.
Anywhere from three to ten interviewers ask you one or two questions each, as you rotate from room to room or virtually between breakout rooms, each lasting about five to 15 minutes.
Video Interview Style
Zoom, Skype or other video conferencing software is growing in popularity. On the bright side, it decreases the amount of time and money applicants spend on travel.
This is like an in-person interview day, applicants can interact with faculty, chat with residents, and take virtual tours of hospitals. In 2016, the Loma Linda Program published a paper that showed their acceptance rate was the same for applicants who did face-to-face interviews and applicants who had video-based interviews. Therefore, do not take video interviews for granted and ensure that your video, audio and lighting are superb.
Telephone Style Interview
Telephone interviews are usually reserved for International Medical Graduates (IMGs) and during the SOAP process, to assess English competency.
Telephone interviews are not ideal because it is difficult to get a good “sense” of the program. Nevertheless, treat it as a one-time opportunity and be prepared and do your best.
Blended Interview Style:
Blended Interview style refers to a combination of the above interview styles and it is a newer technique. This is usually a curve ball for applicants, and most are caught off guard because of the blended interview style.
Nevertheless, prepare with the best to ensure that you do your best.
The 2020 NRMP survey revealed that more than 95% of the Program Directors interviewed cited that the interview day interaction with faculty was the most crucial factor in ranking the applicants. Other top factors which determined the rank order list were interpersonal skills (95%), interaction with house staff and feedback from residents and staff following the applicant’s interview.
Give yourself the best opportunity at matching into your dream residency program by contacting the experts at Healthy Waves- USMLE the American Dream, because we care about your future.