The 2021 interview cycle for craniofacial fellowship applicants was the first to be held virtually due to the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic. Here, we detail the craniofacial fellowship applicant perceptions and experience on the virtual interview process.
Materials and Methods:
An institutional review board–approved 35-question survey study on the perception of the virtual interview process among craniofacial fellowship applicants was conducted. Surveys were distributed to individuals who had applied through the match, overseen by the American Society of Craniofacial Surgeons (ASCFS).
Ten surveys were fully completed with a corresponding response rate of 48%. The average number of interviews completed was 12.7±7.7 and 50% of applicants interviewed at >1 program in a single day. Overall, 90% of respondents preferred in-person interviews before the interview season, however, only 10% preferred the in-person format afterwards. Preference for a virtual-only format increased from 10% to 70%. Applicants cited cost (100%), ease of scheduling (90%), and ability to participate in more interviews (70%) as the primary strengths of the virtual platform; none reported difficulties with self-advocacy. After the interview cycle, 90% stated they would recommend virtual interviews.
The greatest strengths of virtual interviews were the ability to participate in more interviews, the ease of scheduling, and the cost benefits. Most applicants reported the same or increased ability for self-advocacy with virtual interviews. Following the index interview cycle for 2021, the majority of fellowship applicants now appear to prefer a virtual-only or hybrid format and would recommend virtual interviews in the future.