Faculty involvement in PhD applicant interviews

The Biomedical Scientist Training Program (BSTP) is responsible for overseeing biomedical PhD students at the CWRU SOM. Since the pandemic, all interviews have been remote via Zoom (accepted students can later scope out the campus with in-person visits). There have been multiple emails from BSTP leadership asking for help in interviewing the candidates. I have been pretty involved in interviewing prospective students since I’ve been here, and the schedules for each interview day that I’m involved in seems to have a lot of the same names each time. At some point I became curious what fraction of the faculty in our school take part in PhD student interviews.

To do this analysis, I downloaded the HTML code for the BSTP trainer directory (https://case.edu/medicine/bstp/research/trainers-directory), which amounted to 242 CWRU or CWRU-affiliated faculty capable of serving as a PhD advisor for BSTP, and used a Python script to extract the first and last names. I then cross-referenced this list with the interview schedules for 15 recent remote interview days (I interviewed an applicant for 13 of these), over the last two application cycles. Within this dataset, here’s a histogram of the number of BSTP applicant interviews each faculty trainer performed.

I’m the singular red bar at 13 interviews, further accentuated by the vertical red line. I’m apparently in the top 5 percentile in terms of faculty involvement in BSTP interviews. There are 13 people ahead of me on the list, although many are part of the admissions committee and are presumably taking on this commitment as part of their official service roles.

There is a large bar at the zero mark. Essentially, roughly 123 faculty (or ~ 51%) of approved PhD trainers have done zero interviews in the assessed time period. If every faculty was equally involved in interviewing applicants, every faculty member would have exactly 3 interviews to perform. Since that isn’t the case, the above distribution seems to happen, where the top 22 most involved faculty (or slightly less than 10% of eligible faculty do ~50% of the interviews.

Note: I realized this analysis is somewhat biased, since I will be included in the data at high frequency since I was only able to access interview lists for days that I or Anna were involved in. Out of 12 interview days this season, I participated in 7, and 9 are accounted for in the above dataset (Anna participated on two days that I did not). So with that grain of salt in mind, I’m sure the general trends are still roughly correct.