Standardized Residency Video Interviews: Benefit or Burden?

Author: Mike Wilk, MD
PGY-1, Brown EM

Forward: Please note that after submission of this article, the Standardized Video Interview Project was put on hold this year for further review by the AAMC. However, its implementation remains expected at a later date.

We are trained as emergency physicians to start evaluating patients from the moment we lay eyes on them. Sometimes referred as the “door test,” we assess, determine workups and consider possible dispositions from the moment we step through the door to lay eyes on our patient. Much like assessing patients, EM residency programs are looking for more efficient ways to rapidly evaluate future residents even before they are invited for an in-person interview. This year, medical students bound for an EM residency will have a new option to complete on their residency applications: the AAMC Standardized Video Interview.

What exactly will this video interview involve? When I first heard of the concept, I initially envisioned it to be a “personal branding” video where each student would have a minute or two to sell themselves. While this idea is exciting, I also envisioned medical students spending many hours perfecting this video, and even more burdensome, spending hundreds of dollars for professional videography. Basically, I imagined something similar to YouTube high school football recruiting videos, complete with pump-up music and special effects.
However, upon further research, I learned that the video interviews would actually consist of students answering on the spot questions involving topics on professionalism and interpersonal and communication skills. Much like an in-person interview, there is no pause or reset button and students will not know the exact question until the video begins. While not as burdensome as making your own personal branding video, it still sounds stressful.

So, what is the good news? At least for this year, the videos will be completely optional and only used for research purposes. Plus participating students will receive a gift card. The videos will be scored and incorporated into a research study to assess for correlation with the ranking of students after in-person interviews. Residency programs will not have access to the videos nor know who participated.

It will certainly be interesting to see how residency programs and medical students receive the videos. For medical students, it is yet another task they must complete to make it through the match process. For programs, it may alter who is selected for in-person interviews which has the potential to save time and money for the programs and also students. For the vast majority of applicants, I imagine it will not have a major impact as USMLE scores, clinical grades, and SLOEs will likely still reign supreme in selecting who is invited to interview. However, it may give programs better insight into the more subjective aspects of the medical student such as their personality, general demeanor, and “fit” with the residency program. Only time will tell if it becomes a required component of residency applications.