Radiology training programs should think outside the box during candidate interviews

A majority of radiology training programs utilize traditional interview techniques when interviewing candidates, according to a survey of active members of the Association of Program Directors in Radiology (APDR) published in Academic Radiology. Should they be working to shake things up a bit? 

“Radiology training programs have shown little change in the selection process and interview design over the last decade, still heavily relying upon the traditional, unblinded interview,” wrote lead author Claudia Kasales, MD, of the Penn State Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pennsylvania. “Very few programs are aware of or utilize interview techniques that offer improved validity and reduce bias.”

Kasales and colleagues sought to evaluate interview techniques currently used in the selection of radiology residents. An anonymous 25-question email survey was issued to 319 active members of the APDR.

“The survey included questions on residency demographics, organization of resident applicant interviews, types of interview techniques utilized, scoring and ranking of applicants, and facets of the interview/application felt most important to the selection process,” Kasales et al. noted.

A total of 94 percent of respondents noted they use traditional interview techniques. Also, 92 percent of respondents use unblinded, unstructured interviews and 8 percent use blinded, unstructured interviews. Structured interview questions were only used by 22 percent of respondents.

The researchers added that 3 percent used casual visual cognitive testing, 10 percent used panel interview techniques and none utilized formal personality testing or written prompts during interviews. 

Structured interviews, the authors wrote, generally lead to bias and certain candidates may be eliminated or accepted due to their appearance, accents and perceived abilities. Also, structured interviews use standardized questions and a formalized response scoring. This limits interview prompting and follow-up, thereby defeating the purpose of getting the know the interviewee.

Some medical schools have adopted an interview process called the multiple mini interview (MMI), the authors explained. This type of interview is “an objective structured clinical examination providing multiple, short, structured interviews assessing predetermined domains including critical thinking, ethical decision making, communication skills and healthcare systems knowledge.”

The MMI interview process has been shown to improve the reliability and validity of interviews by decreasing the chance and context specificity that effect established methods. Interviewees also report a more positive experience with MMIs.

“As the interview remains a strong influence in candidate selection, programs should examine their current process and consider the incorporation of alternative methods to improve their selection process,” the authors concluded.