The medical school admissions process is rigorous. Medical colleges use an array of screening methods to find the best candidates for their programs.
One of these practices is the multiple mini interview (MMI) system. Med schools use this unique interview format to assess your verbal communication skills and ability to think on your feet. Here’s a look at what MMI interviews are and how you can prepare for them.
Most MMI medical school interviews consist of 6 to 10 brief, successive interview stations. Each post is led by a different proctor who poses different questions or ethical scenarios and rates your responses.
The purpose of MMI interviews is to evaluate your oral communication, non-verbal skills, critical thinking, and teamwork. This method reduces the chance of bias among evaluators and provides a more comprehensive understanding of the interviewee’s thought processes.
MMIs are not meant to test your medical knowledge. Rather, they judge your ethics and bedside manner based on how you would act in real-life scenarios. They may be held in-person or virtually.
The MMI format is novel in its alternative approach to traditional one-on-one interviews or panel interviews. The multiple mini interview approach is conducted over a number of stations.
Each mini interview lasts about 7-10 minutes. With short breaks in between sessions, the entire MMI process takes around 2 hours. Each station occurs in a different interview room. Reviewers may ask you questions directly or watch your behavior in a role-play scenario.
How are MMIs scored? Each evaluator gives a grade of 1-10 based on your conduct at their station. Once the series concludes, all proctors’ marks are compiled into an aggregate score that encompasses your entire performance.
What is the difference between the MMI and a panel interview? Panel interviews involve a board of people all seated in the same meeting with you. They all hear the same questions and your responses. MMIs separate the evaluators into independent meetings.
Number of Examiners
6-10 meet you individually
3-4 meet with you at once
Time to Answer Questions
Roughly 5-7 minutes
While time to answer individual questions is unlimited, the interview has a time limit. Answer fully, but don’t spend too much time on each question.
Length of Interview
About 2 hours
Each station is a fresh start, so if you feel you’ve underperformed at one, you can start over in 5 minutes with a different proctor.
Because you spend the whole time with the same group, you can build a rapport with the interviewers.
There isn’t a better or worse form of interview — that comes down to personal preference. All medical school interviews are designed to assess the same qualities.
To get a high score on MMIs, you need to exhibit strong communication skills, interpersonal behavior, empathy, and problem-solving. Being confident during your MMI helps you make quick yet thoughtful responses and articulate them well.
Is it hard to score well on multiple mini interviews? That depends on how well you think under pressure. The scenarios themselves may not be difficult, but the anxiety and stress of being interviewed can sabotage your performance. If you are nervous about these unrehearsed interactions, you may score poorly.
Therefore, the best way to succeed in multiple mini interviews is to be prepared and feel confident. How do I prepare for MMIs? The best methods of MMI interview prep are:
These interview sessions pose scenarios that assess your ability to navigate ethical conundrums you may encounter as a physician. The exchange will securitize how you handle dilemmas regarding confidentiality, personal beliefs, medical law, consent, personal commitments, end-of-life aid, or conflicts of interest.
Evaluators probably won’t be looking for a “correct” answer that reveals your moral principles. Rather, they will be grading how well you handle yourself in a morally complex situation. They will look at qualities like how thoughtfully you weigh the situation, how calm you remain, and how you reach a conclusion.
To answer ethical questions well, you should:
These MMI stations judge your ability to evaluate information, prioritize, and think rationally under duress. While ethical dilemmas appraise your interpersonal and moral judgements, critical thinking stations appraise your ability to think rationally in an emotionally tense situation.
When you answer questions that test your decision-making, clearly vocalize:
Some MMI stations will simply consist of answering traditional interview questions. These character assessment stations use familiar queries to explore how you perceive yourself. The interviewer will directly ask you about your personal traits, including your strengths and weaknesses. They may even throw in some quirky questions like, “if you could pick a superpower, what would it be?”
Typically, this is the least stressful station for candidates because of the conventional material. However, don’t assume that this will be easy to ace — you still need to answer well to get a high grade. How can you do that?
Acting stations use a different approach than direct dialogue with the assessor. Another person will be present during the session to play a role. You will play out the scenario with the actor as if it was truly occurring.
Role-playing stations let the grader more accurately see how you’d act in a situation — rather than listen to how you think you’d respond.
Situations often involve giving a patient bad news, confronting a superior about their behavior, or showing empathy to a distraught family member. The scenario may not even be a medical situation; it could involve how you handle angry neighbors, rebellious children, or emotionally dependent friends.
Professional nonverbal behavior is especially critical in role-playing to get a good score. Beyond merely what you say, you should mind your:
Teamwork/collaboration stations are meant to assess your ability to work well with others. You may be asked to perform a task together, work through a situational prompt, or debate a topic. No matter what the task, your abilities to communicate and collaborate are key. Group exercises like this aren’t about whether or not you solve a problem, but how you solve it.
To get the most out of your partnership:
Written communication can be just as important to medical admissions committees as oral communication is. That’s why some committees include writing stations in their MMIs.
Unlike AMCAS admissions essays, you don’t have the time to gather your thoughts, receive feedback, or make revisions. This is an impromptu writing assignment you have to ace on the fly.
The time limit still applies to this station. You need to write your response quickly without rambling. There usually isn’t a word limit, but that doesn’t mean you should write as much as possible.
Approach this challenge as you would any other writing assignment:
Here are some common types of questions that you may be asked on your interview day. Review these sample questions as part of your MMI prep.
The multiple mini interviews system is a newer approach to screening prospective medical students. More and more schools are opting to use MMI scenarios since Dr. Harold Reiter at McMaster University first introduced them in 2004.
These are the U.S. allopathic medical colleges that currently use MMI stations — either exclusively or in an interview process also containing traditional interviews or group exercises:
Even if you aren’t applying to any of these schools of medicine, it’s wise to familiarize yourself with effectively navigating MMI interviews. More medical programs are adopting this assessment practice every year, so there’s a chance your school of choice will begin using MMIs soon.
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