Computerized Residency Interview Scheduling: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Categorical General Surgery Applicants

Heather E. Hoops, Karen J. Brasel, Caroline Q. Stephens, Erin M. Anderson, Liane LeBlanc, Sanjay Krishnaswami

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Objective: Scheduling interviews can be stressful and time-intensive for general surgery applicants and program coordinators. The objectives of this study were to determine whether computerized scheduling program (CSP) would decrease time to schedule interviews, reduce workload for residency coordinators, and improve applicant satisfaction. Design: A prospective randomized controlled trial of 2 interview-scheduling methods was conducted. All categorical general surgery applicants selected to interview for the 2017 match were randomized to either standard e-mail/phone scheduling or CSP using InterviewBroker. Time required to schedule an interview, number of communications, reschedules, withdrawals, and cancellations were all recorded. Additionally, applicants completed a voluntary, anonymous 9-question paper survey on their interview date. The program director and interviewers were blinded to the experimental groups. Setting: A single general surgery residency program. Participants: Participants in the study included all categorical general surgery applicants selected for an interview in the 2017 match cycle (N = 62 standard group, N = 62 CSP group). Results: The CSP group took less time to schedule interviews (9 minutes vs. 80 minutes; p < 0.01), had fewer e-mail/phone communications (3 vs. 1; p < 0.01), and more total rescheduling events (26 vs. 4; p = 0.03) when compared to the standard group. Survey responses showed that 55% of applicants used CSPs at 5 or fewer other programs. The CSP group reported increased overall satisfaction (80% vs. 56% very satisfied; p = 0.02) and access to preferred interview dates (80% vs. 53% very satisfied; p = 0.02). Overall, 77% of applicants responded that CSPs should be widely adopted among general surgery residency programs. Conclusions: CSPs expedited interview scheduling, decreased workload for program coordinators, and improved general surgery applicant satisfaction. However, despite the benefits of CSPs for programs and applicants, CSP use is not widespread among general surgery residency programs. Adoption of CSPs by all programs could greatly improve interview-scheduling processes for applicants and programs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-42
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Surgical Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2019


  • Applicant
  • General surgery residency
  • Interpersonal and Communication Skills
  • Interview
  • Online
  • Scheduling
  • Systems-Based Practice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Surgery


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