A comparison of behavioral and multiple mini-interview formats in physician assistant program admissions

P. Eugene Jones, J. Glenn Forister

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Purpose: The interview remains a widely used tool in health professions program admissions. The purpose of this study was to compare the use of a behavioral interview format with the multiple mini-interview format in measuring desired noncognitive behaviors. Methods: This dual cohort, observational, comparative study used a polytomous ratingscale model to analyze the results from two homogeneous groups of physician assistant (PA) program applicants (total N = 176). One group (n = 93) participated in two 20-minute behavioral interviews conducted by two raters per interviewee. The behavioral format included questions related to past behaviors and performance as a way to identify latent professionalism characteristics. The second group (n = 83) completed ten separate 7- minute stations with one rater per station. Each of the mini-stations assigned a specific topic and/or task to be completed. The score distributions related to applicant performance and station difficulty were plotted using Rasch analysis software. Results: The behavioral interview format and multiple mini-interview had similar model fit. The behavioral interview did not adequately measure differences in applicant characteristics. In contrast, the multiple mini-interview measured more variation in noncognitive traits and identified better matching of station difficulty and person ability. Conclusions: In this study the multiple mini-interview format was a more reliable admissions tool in detecting latent professionalism attributes among PA program applicants. The multiple mini-interview format appeared to measure professional potential and organizational fit better than the behavioral interview format. A larger study across several programs may provide additional support for these findings.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)36-40
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Physician Assistant Education
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Medical Assisting and Transcription


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