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Behavioral-based Interviewing to Improve Candidate Selection for a Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine Fellowship Program

Henry Ford Hospital
Detroit, Michigan

Program Director: Geneva Tatem, MD
Type of Program: Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine
Abstract Authors: Geneva Tatem, MD; Maria Kokas, PhD; Cathy L. Smith, MA, LPC; and Bruno DiGiovine, MD

Traditional interviews for residency and fellowship training programs are an important component in the selection process but can be of variable value due to a non-standardized approach. We redesigned the candidate interview process for our large pulmonary and critical care medicine fellowship program using a behavioral-based interview (BBI) structure. The primary goal of the BBI approach was to standardize the assessment of candidates within non-cognitive domains in order to select those with the best fit for our institution’s fellowship program.

Eight faculty members attended two BBI workshops. The first workshop identified our program’s “best fit” criteria using the framework of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education’s six core competencies and additional behaviors that fit within our program’s priorities of professionalism, leadership, communication skills, teamwork, and empathy. BBI questions were selected from a national database and refined based on the attributes deemed most important by our faculty. In the second workshop, faculty practiced the BBI format in mock interviews with graduating fellows. The BBI process was further refined based on feedback and the faculty conducted the BBI structured interviews with fellowship candidates for the 2014 recruitment season.

Our program matched all 7 candidates by the 10th rank in 2014 whereas the previous 5 years required on average a 15th rank to fill all positions.

The one-year pilot of the BBI structure suggests an association with improved match results for our fellowship program. We were able to develop a standardized interview process based on the traits we deemed indicative of a successful fellow within our program using a framework of the ACGME core competencies. Training interviewers in this process using standardized questions, multiple interviewers, and behavioral interview rating scales improved our ability to assess fit with our program. Continued implementation of this program will allow us obtain data on correlates with trainee performance within our fellowship program.


Last Reviewed: December 2016