To those worrying about interview invites - A (likely obvious) Prediction

Nov 19, 2019
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  1. Pre-Dental
I've seen quite a few people worrying about pre-December interviews and having not received any despite good stats. I've been frequenting the medical school subreddit, looking at the OMFS match thread on SDN and seeing the same trend of applicants that aren't receiving as many residency interviews as you would've predicted given their scores.

I may just be preaching to the choir, but the fact that I keep seeing "No interviews, when do I start to worry?" posts popping up in the Bootcamp Facebook group, on SDN, and Reddit, hopefully this can provide some insight into what I think is likely happening this cycle.

So this portion is not my own but can be found online here about halfway down the page. It gives insight into what is going on with residency interviews this year and can be applied to medical and dental school too.

I APPLIED TO 70 PROGRAMS AND RECEIVED 3 INTERVIEW OFFERS. A CLASSMATE APPLIED TO 50 PROGRAMS, GOT INTERVIEW OFFERS EVERYWHERE, AND NOW HAS 42 INTERVIEWS SCHEDULED. WHAT CAN BE DONE ABOUT INTERVIEW HOARDING? WILL YOU PLEASE ADVOCATE FOR INTERVIEW CAPS?

Folks, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Remember, even before COVID-19, we had a distributional problem with interviews, with 12% of applicants taking 50% of interview slots in specialties like internal medicine or general surgery. So back in May, just after the virtual interview season was announced, I predicted that the lower opportunity/financial costs of virtual interviews mixed with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic would lead to highly-qualified applicants choosing to “overinterview.”

Obviously, I wasn’t the only person to predict this. Back in July, the National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) – an organization with a knowledgeable leadership team and a Nobel laureate economist on retainer – quietly added an extra round to this year’s Supplemental Offer and Acceptance Program (SOAP). They didn’t do it for funsies – they did it because they thought we were gonna need it.

Meanwhile, many other students, residents, and faculty tried to sound the alarms and get people thinking about the possibility of capping interviews.

One clever study used data from last year’s OB/GYN Match to predict how virtual interviews might change the number of interviews that various groups applicants received this season.

To do this, they divided last year’s applicants into two groups – those who received 12 or more interview offers, and those who received fewer than 12. Then, they modeled what would happen if those applicants were interviewing this season. They assumed that, unlike last year’s Match, when travel costs and the realities of the time-space continuum provided a natural limit on the number of interviews that an applicant would accept, applicants this year would choose to accept all of the virtual interviews they were offered.

The results were striking.

Without interview caps, the type of applicant who completed 12+ interviews in 2019-2020 was predicted to complete around 19 interviews in 2020-2021.

But when “top” applicants fill more interview positions, fewer are left over for applicants who don’t look as good on paper. Without any changes to the system, the model predicted that the average applicant who completed <12 interviews last year would receive an average of less than one interview apiece this year.

Interestingly, under the modeling assumptions the authors used, encouraging programs to offer 20% more interview slots didn’t help. Under this scenario, the top applicants completed an average of 22.9 interviews, and the less polished received still received just 0.8 interviews apiece.

Only capping interviews resulted in a more equitable distribution of interview offers. And if interviews were capped at the same time that programs increased the number of interview offers available, then both groups of applicants received an average of 12 interview offers apiece.


TL;DR A small pool of high stats applicants is 'over-interviewing' this year because there are no travel/hotel costs associated with interviewing this year and no interview cap

For dental school, we obviously dont use a match system so things will turn out a little different than the post-match scramble that residencies will see this year, but the same principles apply.

This year was completely different from previous years just in terms of interviews. Dental schools seem to have years of application and interview data that tells them how many students they need to interview to fill a class. Midwestern-AZ knows that they extend a lot of December offers only to have people choose cheaper options, so they are comfortable extending post-December interviews in October because their data shows that they dont fill their class in December. Its a science to them, a numbers game. That data is significantly less accurate this year (yeah this is conjecture, I dont have data to back this) because previous models dont account for people accepting almost every interview they receive. In previous years, schools could weed out students who weren't willing to pay $500+ for plane tickets/hotel and likely weren't as committed to the program simply by sending them an interview invite and having that student decline. That isn't the case this year.

This is also anecdotal, but I received 10 interviews this year and took everyone. If this was a normal cycle I would've been willing to pay to travel to 3 of those schools plus my state school, honestly I wouldve only had the ability and time to attend 5 max given work and school schedule too. But being the neurotic pre-dental student that I am, I accepted every interview because more interviews means a better chance of getting an acceptance, Right?.....RIght!? I guarantee this is the case for a lot of students.

This has led to a pool of high stats, highly competitive applicants essentially 'hoarding' dental school interviews. Come December 15 they're likely to receive multiple acceptances, maybe more than they would have in previous years because they attended more interviews, only to turn them all down but their top choice.

Last year, when X SCHOOL OF DENTISTRY accepted 90 kids on the first day, 65 put down deposits. This year that number is likely to be significantly lower. Their formula of interview 300 kids to fill a class of 100 will likely be way off and require them to interview many more students post-December.

This may or may not be what actually happens. This whole situation would've been mitigated by some forethought on the adcoms part and increasing their pre-December interview count or being extra judicious when reviewing applicants and their commitment to their school this year. I'm betting most schools recognized the problem and are waiting to see what the numbers say for post-December interviews.

I think its pretty safe to predict a larger than normal post-December interview wave, and significantly more waitlist movement. Only time will tell.
 
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