Tuesday 9 June 2020

Video interviews, a new skill set to develop for residency applications

These are strange times we live in. Ten years ago, I would have scoffed at the idea that residency interviews would even be done by video chat using a computer but the stark reality in the current post covid-19 world is just that. But then again, it is not too different from how things were done to an extent in the remote past.

Decades ago, I remember going to the local ‘communication center’ used to have the yellow sign in black lettering ‘STD, FAX, PCO’. In case some of you are wondering STD stands for ‘subscriber trunk dialing’ which would allow international calls and PCO stands or ‘public call office’. It was at a time when all households did not have a telephone and one would have to go to a local store to use it. In any case, I had a virtual interview scheduled over the phone with the chair of a research program. That 20 minute call (at 9.30 PM in the night) will be in the group of perhaps the most important phone calls in my life.

Given this dramatic transition to video interviews for residency applicants, What to expect going forward?
1. It is a reality that given the concerns with spread of covid-19, many institutions are changing their approach to residency and fellowship interviews.
2. Virtual conferences and interviews using a web-camera enabled computer or tablet are going to be increasingly adapted.
3. Given the currency of the covid situation, most interviews will be transitioned to video format, but as things cool down there will be a return to in-person visit/interview to some extent.
4. There will develop some kind of a hybrid video – in person interview system, where there may be first interview virtually and if selected, the applicants are invited to an in-person campus visit.

There are several technologies at present that are used for video visits. Skype for business, ZOOM etc all offer video conferencing methods. If you are familiar with them, it is best to get used to these platforms so that there are no technical issues on your end when you are set up to have the interview. These platforms like Zoom are private companies and not propriety to the institution who is conducting the interview. Thus, you could sign up and try it out to get a feel of the functionality of the program and get at least working knowledge of the basic functions (such as full screen, video window, mute mic etc). Facebook also offers video conferencing but I am not sure that the programs would use a social networking site to conduct interviews for residency.

Another thing to think about is connectivity and broadband. Video applications are data heavy and use a lot bandwidth. If you are on a weaker connection, then it may impact the quality of your interview Impact on interview process for the applicant.

It is possible that with the cost savings from not needing to travel (air fare, car rental) or lodging (hotel stays are usually out of pocket for many residency applicants), this could open up the possibility where a greater number of places could be applied to. Video interviews are a different mode of human interaction. I will cover more about what to look for and how to conduct yourself in a video interview in the subsequent sections.
Till then stay safe. Follow, like, subscribe, pass the word along – stay posted.

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