How do programs rank residency interview applicants?

We all know what you do after leaving from the residency interview, they probably follow a pattern like this:

  1. Breathe a sigh of relief
  2. Jot down notes about the program
  3. Write thank you emails to your interviewers

Today, will try to elucidate a little about what residency programs do after they interview you, and how this may affect your chances in turn.

Residency interview rank meeting

When the residency programs usually rank their interviewers?

The Rank Meeting

One thing a lot of applicants don’t realize is that most residency programs will have their rank meeting either the same night of or the day after their interview day. This is true even if there are many interview days. At the very least, rank meetings will take place once a week where they will go over the applicants during that week.

What this means for you: if you want those thank you emails to matter for your interviewer chances, make sure to send them as soon as you possibly can! This means that before you get to the airport, already have your thank you email sent in!

Who are the members of the rank meeting?

The meeting will often be lead by the program director. The other members include the chairman of the department, senior faculty members, all of the faculty that were conducting interviews, chief residents, and potentially even 1-2 residents who you may have met throughout the day.

How do residency programs rank their applicants?

Points System

Often a program will use a points-based system (see our examples below) to judge the applications. While there is some variability between the programs, it all boils down to sitting together and coming up with the order in which to rank the applicants. You will be ranked based on your Step scores, the medical school that you came from, recommendation letters, personal statement, USCE, and of course the interview. Interviewers are going to judge you based on known factors: dedication to medicine, enthusiasm, research, drive and the overall impression. This means your entire interview preparation and delivery is going to be condensed down to a number between 1 and 5. Nonetheless, the interview is always going to be the single most important factor in the ranking list.

As you are preparing for residency interviews, keep in mind these key qualities that interviewers are looking for in their applicants. They want someone who can eloquently explain their qualifications and achievements. But they also want the humanism of the doctor that you are to show through. Use clear examples to show your interviewers that you are these things!

Applicant Advocate

The people you interview with during the day are your advocates in the rank meeting. This means that they are responsible for presenting your application to everybody in the committee. He or she talks about your strengths, weaknesses, your interview and your unique qualities. It’s absolutely critical to create a strong, memorable interview because that’s who they are going to remember. If the person presenting your case is the program director or selection committee chair, then it serves as an even greater advantage because their opinions are better respected. Alas, you can’t always control who you interview with but that’s the hope. Remember to never burn any bridges during your interview day – there is no person who’s too unimportant to bother impressing. Everyone during the day comes together in that meeting, and if anyone says something negative about your case – your chances go way down.

Feedback from Chief Residents

Programs also want to know that you can fit into the residency program. That’s why chief residents have a voice in the meeting. Some programs have the chief residents doing interviews. Most importantly, if there are red flags from your behavior during the interview day or pre-interview dinner, the residents can voice these concerns and that’s not a good thing.

Good luck on your interview trail. Residency Interview Questions provides strong, excellent interview preparation for the most important residency interview questions. Take a look at what we offer.