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Virtual Interviews: Reflective Tips and Tricks for Interviewers and Interviewees

By Lauren Pamulapati posted 05-17-2021 19:01


This past year presented a new challenge and opportunity for conducting residency interviews in a virtual format. Due to this new experience, the Ambulatory Care Pharmacotherapy SAG felt it would be worth sharing tips and tricks that worked within our programs, should similar models be continued in the future.  We also surveyed our students and residents to determine what tips and tricks they had from their perspective. Feel free to share with your colleagues.


Program/Interviewer Tips

  1. To introduce candidates to the culture of your program and the surrounding area, consider putting together a video highlighting the area and the program (walking around the hospital), discussion with some of the faculty, etc. 
  2. Record any general information about the program that would be the same between groups/candidates. However, ensure you build into time in the schedule for candidates to ask clarifying questions about the general structure. Along the same lines, put together handouts that show sample resident schedules, etc. that candidates can view on their own before coming in for the interview.
  3. Either in the itinerary sent to candidates or during the virtual interview portion, include your email address for candidates to reach out to specific individuals afterwards, in case time runs out. This would replace the traditional business card provided at in person meetings.
  4. Schedule in breaks (e.g. bathroom breaks or a break in between interview rooms). This will allow for the interviewee and interviewers to have time to gather their thoughts and finish up evaluations before moving on to the next interviewee. 
  5. If possible, interviewers would benefit from more than one monitor connected. This enables them to see the candidate, their application, the score, sheet, etc.  
  6. For efficiency, if conducting a group interview with multiple preceptors and one candidate, share one evaluation form electronically for recording responses from candidates. You may consider appointing an individual as a note taker so everyone else can maintain eye contact and attention on the candidate. Each individual will score separately but responses will be written down for reflection later.
  7. Reinforce time zones with candidates when sending out agendas. Keep in mind start times when there is a large difference in time zones.
  8. If using teams and/or breakout rooms, test this out first to ensure everyone can access the breakout rooms. 
  9. If interviewing multiple candidates during one time slot, allow the candidates to have just one link for each of them individually. Preceptors can then hop on and off the candidate’s links, as needed, to reduce complexity for the candidates on an already stressful day.
  10. To enable personalities to shine, consider ending the formal interview question portion with a few questions that are unrelated to the program or experiences but more about them as individuals. For example, “what is one thing you have never done but wish to do?” or “where was the last place you vacationed or where would you want to go?”.

Candidate/Interviewee Tips

  1. Be fully dressed for a video interview - not just the top!  You never know if you'll need to get up and grab something and you want to look your professional best!
  2. Test out your video environment beforehand.  Make sure you are visible in the camera and the lighting and sound is clear. You want to minimize too much or too little space above your head, as well as limit distractions behind you.
  3. If you are planning on pausing your video for breaks, upload a professional headshot into your profile so this is displayed when the camera is not active.
  4. Do not let technology issues fluster you. They will happen; however, the way you handle the mishaps speaks volumes about how you will handle stressful situations in residency. 
  5. Recognize it is okay to not finish the case/scenarios. Programs are looking at your thought process. If you are unsure of an exact answer or did not have time to confirm your thoughts, be sure to verbalize what steps you would take or where you would look to find the answer.
  6. Have specific questions prepared for each program. Over-prepare questions, in case some of them are answered throughout the day. You can ask different interviewers similar questions if they are about culture, etc. as a way to obtain different viewpoints.
  7. Consider applying to more places since you are not traveling. Still keep in mind and only apply if you would want to move there and train there, but now is the opportunity to explore programs that you may not have looked at due to money constraints with travel. 
  8. Even though multiple programs are doing virtual interviews, they may not all be set-up the same. Read instructions thoroughly to be prepared for each site’s set up! 
  9. Practice making eye contact with the camera. Do not look at yourself on the screen. Look at the camera or move the interviewer to the top picture to ensure you can read their body language. Consider elevating your computer so that it is at eye level! 
  10. Try your best to send follow up thank you emails to everyone who interviewed you. Even though you are not in person, the programs are giving up a lot of their time and effort. You want them to remember you positively!


What things worked well within your programs during virtual interviews? If virtual interview formats continued, whether for residencies or jobs, what tips would you have for both the interviewer and the interviewee? Feel free to comment to continue the conversation! :)