Can Behavior-Based Interviews Help Choose the Best Residents?

June 30, 2011

Every year, resident programs spend financial and human resources to sort out the various candidates applying for a spot in their program in hopes of securing the most ideal candidates. In 2009 there were 1796 applicants for the 1185 residency positions in the specialty of obstetrics and gynecology.

Every year, resident programs spend financial and human resources to sort out the various candidates applying for a spot in their program in hopes of securing the most ideal candidates. In 2009 there were 1796 applicants for the 1185 residency positions in the specialty of obstetrics and gynecology. And despite the man hours and resources spent to help choose the most appropriate candidates, little research has been done to determine the efficacy of interviews in predicting future success.

The department of obstetrics and gynecology at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis sought to explore this very concern. In 2006 they embarked on a program of behavior-based interviewing for all applicants to its residency program, which, since 2007, consists of 5 positions per academic year. It is 1of 4 main teaching sites for the required third-year obstetrics/gynecology clerkship for medical students from the Indiana University School of Medicine.

As part of the new interview system, all applicants received a score based on their academic record as well as attributes garnered during the interview. These items included professionalism, leadership, trainability/suitability for the specialty, and fit for the program. The attributes were assessed through a series of behavior-based questions at individual interview stations; most of these interviews were conducted by 2 faculty members. Each of the 5 categories had a maximum score of 36; thus, each applicant could obtain a maximum score of 180.

Applicants’ eventual residency sites were identified based on the National Resident Matching Program’s match results, the Council on Resident Education in Obstetrics and Gynecology resident database, and individual program Web site reviews. An electronic survey was sent to program directors at institutions in which a St. Vincent applicant had been identified 1 or 2 years after the applicant started the program. This survey was designed to assess the applicants’ patient care, medical knowledge, surgical skills, communication, professionalism, clinical documentation, leadership, teamwork, and overall impression. The survey was also designed to ascertain awards, disciplinary actions, and current status of the residents. Overall, 80 applicants interviewed for residency positions in obstetrics/gynecology at St. Vincent Hospital, and 72 were matched into 42 obstetrics/gynecology training programs. Electronic surveys were completed for 45 (63%) of the applicants.

The researchers did not find a significant relationship between overall interview score and overall performance scores. Similarly, overall academic record showed a significant relationship with patient care only for graduates of US medical schools; it did not, however, predict resident scores of medical knowledge. And, while applicant leadership skills were associated with their leadership scores as a resident, there was no such relationship with professional scores.

“Overall, our study points to the potential usefulness of behavioral interviewing to identify either predictors of success or risk factors for failure during residency,” the researchers concluded. “Future studies should investigate additional noncognitive traits of our applicants to help better predict future residency success.”

More Information

National Resident Matching Program Web siteCouncil on Resident Education in Obstetrics and Gynecology Web site

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References:

Reference
Strand EA, Moore E, Laube DW. Can a structured, behavior-based interview predict future resident success?  Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2011 Mar 30 [Epub].