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Published: February 25, 2021

Virtual Interviews Through the Eyes of a 4th Year Medical Student

Blog post by Tamer Tamer, MD

“Non-traditional” has been the ongoing theme for the past year. Many believe breaking tradition is the loss of culture and history, while others have taken the opportunity to be creative and lead the direction in a new path. There have been countless changes over the past several months, including: how we celebrate, ways we interact with one another, our expressions of care toward each other, and how we engage as a community. Online platforms have become a tool of outreach allowing gatherings to occur without the need for travel. We can draw a parallel from what was seen before with the invention of the telephone. The approaches to businesses are in an accelerated pathway to redefining what is necessary to be done in person.

As I went through the residency interview process, I had fears about the degree of intimacy that I would experience with each residency program. However, I quickly realized how exhausting it is to appropriately schedule and attend various interviews, even though it was strictly virtual. The prospect of needing to incorporate travel would have made this year significantly more difficult and I have come to appreciate the significant effort and creativity that programs put forward to ensure that our experience with their program was not subpar.

It was expected for programs to have a traditional slideshow to introduce the key aspects of the program while also addressing what stands out about the program. However, some programs stopped there. Other programs went above and beyond to show videos with a detailed tour of the hospital, extensive interviews with faculty and the medical team, , drone video, and quality video editing. It addresses the fact that modern problems require modern solutions, and the creative effort put forth makes it appear more inviting. I am not saying that students should choose a program based on the quality of the program’s introductory video, but it brings to mind the value of modern technology in today’s society. There is no guarantee that the pandemic will end, or that it will reach a point where tens of thousands of students are encouraged to travel between hundreds of healthcare facilities. There is potential for video interviews to stay, and not only for medicine, but throughout the work industry.

With each program providing the structure of the interview, it becomes almost one-sided by getting hours to detail aspects of their program in the degree of creativity that suites them, while students are limited to their application and several block interviews. It makes me wonder the possibility of future interviews allowing an optional video to be placed alongside their application. The applicant would be provided an opportunity to show their creativity and passion through a medium that was not necessarily available decades ago. With the immediate availability of smart phones, video recording and editing are done seamlessly to allow the applicant to really let their personality shine.

It has been an incredibly challenging year, but through those challenges it has allowed us the opportunity to change, adapt, and progress. It may be a relief for many to return to the traditional way to provide a sense of ‘normalcy’, but many have embraced the modern solution and are excited to see what the future has in store.

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