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    AAMC Guidance on Virtual and In-Person Interviews

    Last updated: June 2024

    Note: The AAMC continues to recommend virtual interviews for both medical schools and residency programs although we recognize that they may take different approaches for sound reasons. We will continue to monitor and update the recommendations as new information becomes available.

    Before 2020, most medical schools wouldn’t have considered conducting their admissions process virtually. Then, the world changed, and undergraduate medical education (UME) rose to the challenge. With innovation, creativity, and open minds, schools were able to effectively adopt virtual interview formats. Now, in the post-COVID-19 era, institutions have a choice between interview formats that each have pros and cons. So where do we go from here?

    The AAMC recommends that medical schools use a virtual interview format and, when feasible, offer the option to visit after acceptance.* Reducing the cost of interviewing is a critical step in widening access and improving equity, our surveys indicate that applicants prefer virtual interviews, and virtual interviewing is consistent with our commitment to reduce environmental impact.

    Every medical school has their own unique mission, goals, and context, and thus may take different approaches for sound reasons. We recognize that what is best for one school may not be best for another. Each institution should evaluate the pros and cons of interview formats in their unique context to determine what is best for their school.

    As you decide what interview format is best for your institution, we have summarized five key considerations for review. Table 1 summarizes reasons why you might choose one format over another and steps for success for each format. In support of all possible interview formats an institution may choose to conduct, we are working to update the interview resources available to applicants and medical schools alike.

    *This option may not be feasible for institutions that participate in a TMDSAS match.

    Key Consideration 1: The financial costs associated with interviewing for medical school are high.

    According to applicant surveys, the costs associated with interviewing are an expensive aspect of the application process.1 While every applicant’s situation is unique, these costs can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars. In our recent survey, 96% of medical school applicants agreed or strongly agreed that they saved money interviewing virtually compared to what they might have spent on in-person interviews, and 85% of applicants named reduced financial impact as the top advantage of interviewing virtually. Financial constraints can be a barrier that prevent applicants from interviewing, especially learners from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. This barrier can be mitigated through virtual interviews, a hybrid option for applicants who need flexibility, or offering financial support for in-person interviewing.

    “The virtual interview format was a blessing in disguise. I was able to attend interviews that I otherwise would not have been able to attend due to financial and scheduling reasons. This makes the application process more equitable in my opinion. I believe it should be a standard across all schools for not only medical school applications, but also residency applications.”

    2023 AMCAS® applicant

    Key Consideration 2: Medical schools, teaching hospitals and health systems, and the AAMC have made commitments to reduce their carbon footprints.

    The health care sector is responsible for 8%-10% of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the United States2 and a quarter of all global GHG emissions. Academic medicine, whose mission is to improve the health of people everywhere, makes a major contribution to the climate crisis — the greatest health threat of the 21st century — and therefore has an important role to play in resolving it.

    Increasing options for virtual interviews offers the opportunity for academic medicine to focus on sustainability by reducing our community’s carbon footprint. Early studies2,3 support that virtual interviews have the potential to reduce the climate impact of academic medicine.

    “I truly appreciated the interview format commencing through an online/virtual format because I was grateful for the reduced cost — financially and environmentally speaking. I believe that the world and economy can benefit more — so long as it's done right — from transitioning into virtual events as much as possible to mitigate some of our carbon emission-related contributions to the world.”

    2023 AMCAS applicant

    Key Consideration 3: Most applicants prefer virtual interviews.

    Our survey of medical school applicants showed that 90% of applicants preferred virtual or the option of virtual interview format. Respondents named reduced financial impact, reduced travel time, and scheduling flexibility as the top three advantages of interviewing virtually. In focus groups, both medical school and residency applicants emphasized that virtual interviews reduced travel time and cost and therefore were considered the favorable format.

    “The ease with which virtual interviews can be scheduled and the financial implications of this modality far outweigh what the students miss in the virtual environment. A model in which interviews are remote but "Second Look Weekends" are in-person makes sense since accepted students may benefit most from the investment necessary to physically visit the campus. Overall, I believe this modality should remain in the future, as it seems more equitable for students and reduces financial barriers.”

    2023 AMCAS applicant

    Key Consideration 4: Time spent away from school, work, and/or other commitments due to travel associated with in-person interviews is an undue burden for applicants to bear.

    In addition to being financially taxing, interviewing is notably a time-consuming part of the selection process. Travel associated with in-person interviews is a burden with varying levels of stress and has the potential to limit the opportunities available to applicants depending on their socioeconomic status, family structures, social networks, etc.

    “As a low-income first-generation student, being able to interview virtually was a big help to me. I did not have to take multiple days off work and spend an excessive amount of money on accommodations.”

    2023 AMCAS applicant

    Key Consideration 5: Separating assessment and recruitment efforts is both an applicant preference and an important step to mitigating the risk of bias in interview ratings.

    In our survey of AMCAS applicants invited to interview, applicants expressed that they do want to visit medical schools and their communities to understand and appreciate culture and fit. And we know that medical schools wish to welcome applicants to their campuses and communities for the same reasons. However, applicants noted that they could reasonably assess culture and fit by visiting medical schools of interest after acceptance is offered.

    As a best practice, assessment activities, such as the interview, should be conducted separately from a school’s recruitment efforts to ensure that interactions outside the interview do not introduce bias or irrelevant information into your interview evaluation.

    For optional in-person events offered after acceptance, we suggest considering whether your institution can offer stipends to Fee Assistance Program recipients to offset the cost of travel and accommodations, to make in-person events more accessible.

    “The financial burden of applying to medical school can be a great obstacle for some. I would not have been able to participate in as many interviews (in turn limiting my opportunities for acceptance), if it had not been for the virtual format provided. Even though I had a harder time determining the program culture and environment through the virtual format, I was able to selectively attend visit days (top few acceptances) to help me make that decision later on in the cycle.”

    2023 AMCAS applicant

    Table 1. Reasons you might choose one interview format over another and steps to success for each.

    Interview Format Reasons You Might Choose an Interview Format Steps to Success
    Virtual Only
    • Many applicants are out-of-state or require travel.
    • Commitment to reducing carbon footprint. 
    • Flexibility in scheduling. 
    • Offer virtual recruiting activities to all applicants.
    • Offer in-person visit days for accepted applicants only.†
    • Develop technology standards and training for faculty conducting virtual interviews.
    Hybrid (i.e., an applicant can select either in-person or virtual interviews)
    • Mix of local and out-of-state applicant pool.
    • Need to showcase less well-known or rural area.
    • Flexibility in scheduling.
    • Gives applicants and faculty choice.
    • Implement policies, procedures, and interviewer training to ensure standardization across formats and to mitigate risk of bias.
    • Ensure admissions/selection committees are blinded to interview format.
    • Inform applicants about steps taken to make the hybrid approach equitable.
    • Offer virtual recruiting activities to all applicants.
    • Offer in-person visit day for accepted applicants only.†
    In-Person Only
    • Most applicants are not out-of-state or do not require extended travel plans.
    • Limited financial resources to purchase virtual interview software.
    • Need to showcase less well-known or rural area.
    • Offer financial support to Fee Assistance Program or other applicants who need it for travel.

    †This option may not be feasible for medical schools that participate in a TMDSAS match.


    1. The Cost of Interviewing for Residency. Students & Residents. (2022, December 28). Retrieved March 10, 2023, from https://students-residents.aamc.org/financial-aid-resources/cost-interviewing-residency
    2. Dzau VJ, Levine R, Barrett G, Witty A. Decarbonizing the U.S. Health Sector - A Call to Action. N Engl J Med. 2021 Dec 2;385(23):2117-2119. doi: 10.1056/NEJMp2115675. Epub 2021 Oct 13. PMID: 34644470.
    3. Domingo A, Singer J, Cois A, Hatfield J, Rdesinski RE, Cheng A, Aylor M, Sullenbarger J, Walker S, Hervey S, Stenson A. The Carbon Footprint and Cost of Virtual Residency Interviews. J Grad Med Educ. 2023 Feb;15(1):112-116. doi: 10.4300/JGME-D-22-00229.1. PMID: 36817522; PMCID: PMC9934836.

    We would like to thank our UME and GME Interview Working Group members for their continued and valuable input with developing the AAMC’s recommendations for interviews moving forward. Our working group includes representatives from both UME and GME, as well as a medical student and a prehealth advisor:

    Name School/Association Role
    Liesel Copeland, PhD Director, Admissions and Medical Education
    Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
    Group on Student Affairs Committee on Admissions
    Jason D’Antonio Director, Health Professions Program
    Carnegie Mellon University
    AMCAS Advisory Committee
    Prehealth Advisor
    Michael Dell, MD Division Chief, Pediatrics
    University Hospitals Rainbow Babies and Children’s Hospital
    Professor, Pediatrics
    Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine
    Residency Specialty Program Director
    Judianne Kellaway, MD Associate Dean, Admissions and Outreach
    University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio Joe R. and Teresa Lozano Long School of Medicine
    Group on Student Affairs Committee on Admissions
    Dori Marshall, MD Director of Admissions and Associate Dean
    Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at the University at Buffalo
    Medical School Admissions Officer
    Mary Nguyen University of Arizona College of Medicine - Tucson Medical Student
    Adena Rosenblatt, MD PhD Director, Dermatology Residency Program
    Assistant Professor of Pediatric Dermatology
    University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine
    Residency Specialty Program Director
    Christin (Chrissy) Spatz, MD Director of Clinical Advising
    Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine
    Medical School Advisor
    Marc Thorne, MD Clinical Professor, Otolaryngology
    University of Michigan Medical School
    Residency Specialty Program Director

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