Tuesday, 1 November 2011

What are your chances of being invited for interview based on speciality


Relationship between number of applicants to a speciality and applicants invited to an interview


This is an important question that pops up in the mind of any applicant who is currently waiting for or in the process of interviews. All specialities received a large number of applications from residency hopefuls and then their applications are parsed into those that are invited for interview and those that are rejected.

Having an idea of these numbers, will help the candidate arm with knowledge as to what he/she are up against.


Data was gathered from the 2010 results of the program directors survey. Average number of applications received for each speciality was found along with the number of interview invitations sent out. The percentage of applicants that were invited for interview was calculated using the formula
(applicants invited for interview/total applications received)x100
Number of applications was plotted on X-axis while number of interviewed applicants was on Y-axis.


Fig 1. Cartesian plot of number of applicants to number of applicants interviewed
Ob-gyn, neurology, IM, FM, G surge, Psych, peds, anesthesia, EM were studied. The group 'total' represents the average of all specialities. The number of applicants to number of applicants invited for interview was plotted on a cartesian graph. The size of the data point corresponds to the percentage of successful applicants who were invited for interview with the numerical value depicted in the shape. As you can see in Figure 1, there are immediate differences obvious amongst the subjects. While Emergency medicine had the highest percentage of interviews (21%), family medicine was surprisingly the lowest at 7%. This is because of a very high number of applicants and relatively less positions for the match. Pediatrics, anesthesia, neurology and ob-gyn had a decent rate of granting interviews between 14 and 17%.

The mean and the mode were 11% which means that for every 100 applicants that apply, on average 11 are invited for interviews, 89 are rejected. These are dismal odds but this seems like the general trend.

Next It was clear that there was a clustering phenomenon that had some specialities together while others far apart. The subjects were divided into four clusters as represented in figure 2.

Fig. 2 Clustering of specialities 
Cluster 1: Ob-gyn and neurology
Cluster 2: EM, anesthesia and peds
Cluster 3: General surgery, psych, total and FM
Cluster 4: Internal medicine

Cluster 1 specialities had the characteristic of low range applications but higher than average applicants interviewed

Cluster 2: mid range number of applications and higher than average interviews

Cluster 3: mid range number of applications and average or lower number of interviews

Cluster 4: high number of applications and average number of interviews.

What are the implications of this finding? if you applied to clusters 1 and 2 programs, then the possibility that you will hear positively regarding an interview invitation is higher that if you have applied to cluster 3 programs. Family medicine present a unique problem for IMGS as, on one hand the criteria are lax allowing for candidates with less impressive CVs to apply but the success rate for interviews is also the least. This may in fact be a consequence of the lax criteria and in sheer volume of applicants applying for the spots. Internal medicine has the highest number of applicants but there are also correspondingly higher number of slots and therefore higher number of interviews granted, making the success rate near to the average of 11%

Hopefully this article will help allay some anxiety for the applicants and give them an idea as to what to except from the programs. This adds more information to the article how many applicants are you competing with for that one spot 

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