Background: Despite the widespread use of the interview in the medical scho
ol admission process, many questions remain about its value and impact on t
he admissions decision. Are interviews merely a tradition and formality, or
do they carry an important weight in the selection decision? The dynamics,
potential bias associated with interviews, and their relative weight in th
e selection process are ongoing and important concerns of admissions commit
Purposes: To investigate the relative weight that the interview carries in
the selection process and whether valid interviews can be conducted without
the potential bias associated with prior knowledge of the applicants' acad
Methods: Interrater agreement was calculated for interviewer pairs, one of
whom had reviewed the applicant file and one of whom had not. Interview rat
ings and selection votes for 2 consecutive years were also analyzed using a
multiple regression model.
Results: Interrater agreement was found to be high, indicating that the tra
ined raters were able to judge applicants' characteristics, independently o
f the quantitative data. Results of the regression analyses revealed that t
he interviewers' scores and the MCAT Verbal accounted for a substantial amo
unt of the variance in the selection decision.
Conclusions: Medical school selection interviews can carry a significant an
d important weight in the selection decision. Interviews should be structur
ed and conducted independently of the applicants' academic records.