Understanding General Surgery Applicant Expectations and Perceptions in the Virtual Interview Process

Jessie W. Ho*, Rachel H. Joung, Mackenzie Krueger, Christina Cid, Amy L. Holmstrom, Cary Jo R. Schlick, Leah C. Tatebe, Hasan B. Alam, Amy L. Halverson, Derrick A. Christopher

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


OBJECTIVE: The COVID-19 pandemic has played a lasting role on residency recruitment through the virtual interview process. The objective of this study was to 1) examine general surgery applicants’ priorities and perceptions following pre-interview virtual open houses and 2) to assess applicant expectations and efficacy of the virtual interview day process. DESIGN/SETTING/PARTICIPANTS: This study utilized two voluntary and anonymous cross-sectional surveys administered via email to evaluate the virtual interview process of a general surgery residency program. The first was administered to registrants following completion of three open houses of various topics. The second was administered following each interview day. The post-open house survey had 78 respondents, two excluded for no open house attendance. The post-interview survey was completed by 44 applicants (62.9% response rate). RESULTS: Majority of respondents reported that attending virtual open houses made them want to apply to (90.9%) and improved their perception of the program (94.7%). Applicants who felt a sense of obligation to attend open houses (68.4%) were significantly more likely to feel that they contributed to the stress and time commitment of applications (81.8% vs 18.2%, p=0.028). Interview expectations were identified in recurrent themes: 1. Clear organization with breaks, 2. Interactive resident sessions, 3. Meetings with program leadership, 4. Additional information unavailable on other resources. The pre-interview social and interview day improved 90.2% of the applicants’ perceptions of the program. The interview significantly improved applicants’ ability to assess nearly all aspects of the program, notably resident camaraderie and culture (30.8% vs 97.4%, p=0.01) and strengths and weaknesses (30.8% vs 92.3%, p=0.04). CONCLUSIONS: While virtual open houses can improve applicants’ perceptions and desire to apply to a program, the associated stress and obligation should be considered. Virtual interviews should provide information unavailable using other resources and provide avenues for conveying the resident culture and camaraderie.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e61-e68
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2022


  • Virtual interviews
  • general surgery
  • residency
  • residency application
  • virtual open house

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Surgery


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