Interviews form part of the selection process in many veterinary programmes worldwide. This study aimed to evaluate the influence of the interview on veterinary selection decisions. An admissions cycle of interviews of 181 shortlisted school-leaving applicants to veterinary medicine was investigated. Selection panel pairs (from cohorts of 5 chairs and 11 cointerviewers) independently evaluated applicants before interview on the basis of their written application. Applicants were then interviewed and selectors repeated their evaluations, both independently and after joint discussion. Results of the preinterview and postinterview evaluations of the applicants were analysed statistically. There was slight to moderate agreement between the chair and cointerviewer on selection decisions/rankings taken before interview, but substantial agreement after interview. Agreement between postinterview decisions/rankings and consensus decisions/rankings postinterview was extremely high. Applicant attributes that had the most influence on selection decisions were: 'communication skills', 'overall knowledge gained from work experience' and 'ability to think on their feet'. There was significantly more agreement possible between interviewers with regard to selection decisions based on interview assessment compared with preinterview assessment of written applications. This study suggests that interviews may be a useful and important aid in decision making for selecting the candidates perceived as most suitable for this veterinary programme.