Applicant Interview Experiences and Postinterview Communication of the 2016 Radiation Oncology Match Cycle.

International Journal of Radiation Oncology, Biology, Physics

PubMedID: 27681747

Berriochoa C, Ward MC, Weller MA, Holliday E, Kusano A, Thomas CR, Tendulkar RD. Applicant Interview Experiences and Postinterview Communication of the 2016 Radiation Oncology Match Cycle. Int J Radiat Oncol Biol Phys. 2016;96(3):514-20.
To characterize applicant interview experiences at radiation oncology residency programs during the 2016 match cycle and to assess applicant opinions regarding postinterview communication (PIC) after recent attention to gamesmanship noted in prior match cycles.

An anonymous, institutional review board-approved, 29-question survey was deployed following the rank order list deadline to all 2016 radiation oncology residency applicants applying to a single institution.

Complete surveys were returned by 118 of 210 applicants, for a 56% response rate. Regarding possible match violation questions, 84% of respondents were asked at least once about where else they were interviewing (occurred at a median of 20% of program interviews); 51% were asked about marital status (6% of interviews); and 22% were asked about plans to have children (1% of interviews). Eighty-three percent of applicants wrote thank-you notes, with 55% reporting fear of being viewed unfavorably if such notes were not communicated. Sixty percent of applicants informed a program that they had ranked a program highly; 53% felt this PIC strategy would improve their standing on the rank order list, yet 46% reported feeling distressed by this obligation. A majority of applicants stated that they would feel relieved if programs explicitly discouraged PIC (89%) and that it would be preferable if programs prohibited applicants from notifying the program of their rank position (66%).

Potential match violations occur at a high rate but are experienced at a minority of interviews. Postinterview communication occurs frequently, with applicants reporting resultant distress. Respondents stated that active discouragement of both thank-you notes/e-mails and applicants' notification to programs of their ranking would be preferred.