BACKGROUND: This study aimed to determine predictors for otolaryngology resident success using data available at the time candidates are interviewed (eg, medical school attended, letters of recommendation, test scores) and data that emerge during residency. STUDY DESIGN: We performed a retrospective cohort study of 36 residents who entered our program between 1983 and 1993. RESULTS: Seventy percent of Alpha Omega Alpha (AOA) members and 13% of nonmembers were in the highest tertile based on faculty ranking (p < 0.01), and candidates with an exceptional trait were more likely than those without an exceptional trait to rank in the highest tertile (57% versus 10%, p < 0.01). AOA membership was also related to current academic appointment (p = 0.02). Significant correlations included United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) I score, year 2 in-training score (0.48, p = 0.03), and years 3 and 4 in-training score and faculty ranking (minus 0.39, minus 0.50, respectively, p ≤ 0.01). Having more than one peer-reviewed publication was associated with higher USMLE I scores and being favored for selection by > 50% of the interviewers (p < 0.05 for both). CONCLUSIONS: In our program designed to train academic otolaryngologists, postresident success was strongly predicted by having an exceptional trait and AOA membership. Success during residency was predicted by interviewer's impression of the candidate and a USMLE I score > 570. Knowledge of these factors at the time of the resident interview could increase the likelihood of selecting the most appropriate candidates for academic otolaryngology. Resident success is a complex outcome, and other unmeasured and unexamined characteristics can provide additional insight into choosing successful residents.