Open Access Open Badges Research article

Dutch postgraduate GP selection procedure; reliability of interview assessments

Margit I Vermeulen*, Marijke M Kuyvenhoven, Nicolaas P A Zuithoff, Yolanda van der Graaf and Roger A M J Damoiseaux

Author Affiliations

Julius Centre for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Centre Utrecht, Utrecht, The Netherlands

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BMC Family Practice 2013, 14:43  doi:10.1186/1471-2296-14-43

Published: 27 March 2013



Semi- structured interviews are the core of the Dutch selection procedure for postgraduate general practice (GP) training. A staff member, trainer and trainee independently assess personal qualities. Aiming to improve the selection procedure we were interested in the reliability aspects of these interviews. We investigated the inter-rater reliability of the interview for groups of two or three assessors and the degree to which candidates’ characteristics and qualities assessed during interviews explained admission into GP training, controlled for differences between those who apply for the first versus the second or third application.


An observational study was conducted of all candidates who entered the Utrecht selection procedure between April 2008 and 2010. Candidates’ characteristics and qualities were collected. Inter-rater reliability of different compositions of the interview group per quality was estimated. Factors associated with admission into GP training were assessed.


The study population included 394 candidates. Twenty-six candidates were rejected based on their application letter (4.4%). Three candidates who applied more than 3 times were excluded. Ultimately, 206 of the 365 candidates were admitted to the GP training (56,4%). The inter-rater reliability was satisfactory (ICC: 0.78 – 0 .84). Reduction from three to two assessors slightly reduces the ICC. The candidates’ qualities independently explained admission to GP training, whereas individual characteristics did not. These results did not differ for candidates who applied for the first time versus candidates applying for the second or third time.


Selection interviews with two assessors yielded a satisfactory level of reliability. Individual characteristics were not associated with admission, whereas scores related to candidate qualities did show such an association. The results of those applying for the second or third time were similar.