Background: The purpose of this study was to assess applicant perceptions and costs associated with the interview process for plastic surgery residency positions. Methods: This was a cross-sectional survey of applicants to the integrated- and independent-track residencies at the authors' institution. All applicants who were interviewed were invited to complete a Web-based survey on costs and perceptions of various components of the interview process. Descriptive and bivariate statistics were computed to compare applicants to the two program tracks. Results: Fifty-three applicants were interviewed for residency positions; 48 completed a survey (90.5 percent response rate). Thirty-four applicants were candidates for the integrated program; 16 applicants were candidates for the independent program. The program spent $2763 per applicant interviewed; 63 percent of applicants spent more than $5000 on the interview process. More than 70 percent of applicants missed more than 7 days of work to attend interviews. Independent applicants felt less strongly that interviews were critical to the selection process and placed less value on physically visiting the hospital and direct, in-person interaction. Applicants placed little value on program informational talks. Applicants who had experience with virtual interviews felt more positively about the format of a video interview relative to those who did not. Conclusions: The residency interview process is resource intensive for programs and applicants. Removing informational talks may improve the process. Making physical tours and in-person interviews optional are other alternatives that merit future study.
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