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Top 10 Residency Ranking Factors: An Infographic

When it comes to preparing for medical residency interviews, there is one question every med student asks:

How do program directors rank applicants?

The National Resident Matching Program (NRMP) conducts a biennial survey in the time between the rank order list deadline and Match Week. Surveys include ranking for both applicant interview selection and candidate program matching. We’ve compiled the NRMP’s 2018 program matching data into a handy infographic.


So much care goes into compiling medical residency applications. But once you’ve scored those coveted interviews, what’s next in the preparation process? And what do you need to consider as you prepare?

Once your residency applications are submitted, it’s all about excelling in your interviews; this is one of the most heavily-weighted candidate ranking factors, with a 4.8 average importance rating. Start preparing with thisĀ primer on medical residency interview questions and interview preparation.

In addition to preparing answers to potential questions and gathering your own questions to ask on interview day, take note that residency program directors and interviewers will be watching to see how you interact with house staff and faculty. They’ll be very interested in your interpersonal skills, professionalism, and ethics; feedback from current residents is also heavily weighted.

And what about those test scores? USMLE/COMLEX Step 1 and Step 2 scores both have a 4.1 average importance rating among program directors. Seventy-eight percent of respondents stated that they consider USMLE/COMLEX Step 1 scores, while 70% said they consider USMLE/COMLEX Step 2 scores.

As for letters of recommendation, you’ll definitely need those as well! Specialty-based recommendation letters were considered important by 72% of responding program directors and had a 4.1 average performance rating. Dean’s letters and Medical Student Performance Evaluations had a 4.6 average performance rating and were considered important by 65% of survey respondents.

And, of course, program directors will sincerely hope you are committed to your selected specialty. They’ll want to discuss your decision, hear why you chose it, and know whether you plan to stick with it. Perceived commitment to specialty was a consideration for 64% of survey respondents and weighted with a 4.4 average importance rating.

Want more help preparing for your residency interview? Don’t miss Dr. Fred Bertino’s FB Live Q&A: Residency Interview Dos & Don’ts Etiquette, Tough Questions, and What to Do After. And contact us today for one-to-one residency advisement.