Medical school interviews are nearly here! They can be nerve-wracking, anxiety-inducing, and fear-provoking experiences. Yet at the same time they are outstanding opportunities which can play a huge role in the admissions committee’s final decision. In order to excel in these interviews, you should be prepared to tackle any interview format that is thrown at you. This includes the Multiple Mini-Interview (MMI) which has been increasing in popularity across the nation since its inception in 2002. A lot of confusion, speculation, and misunderstanding surrounds this type of interview, so let us give you the knowledge that you need to be prepared.
What is the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI)?
MMI was pioneered by McMaster University in 2002 as a way of better understanding the prospective student; they wanted a more complete picture of the applicant by having them make an impression on more faculty members. They accomplished this by creating a 10-station circuit (which has now evolved to range from 6 to 10 stations) where the interviewee rotates, encountering new scenarios at each station.
This allows more people to assess the applicant, mitigating the effect of a single misrepresentation by the student. In basic terms, if you make a bad first impression, the MMI format allows you to get a “fresh start” with each subsequent station.
Since 2002, this format has taken off in popularity; now nearly one-third of all U.S. MD programs have adopted this method of interviewing, including many top-tier schools. Conversely, Traditional Interviews (TIs: one-on-one longer interviews that are minimally structured) are still widely used.
What Should I Expect from MMI?
Though there is variability by school, several general themes are shared across institutions:
1 | 6-10 stations where you will be one-on-one with an interviewer, with or without a patient actor.
2 | Approximately 8 minutes per station with 2 minutes to rotate.
3 | A new prompt at each station that you will read before you enter the room.
4 | Little to no feedback or reactions from the interviewers (they’re often told to not react to your statements, just to simply ask questions and follow-ups).
5 Steps to Prepare for MMI
The prompts at each station will vary, but they will not assess clinical or scientific knowledge. Remember, this is not a test to see how much you know before medical school, but rather a way for the school to get to know you and your character. Here are some tips on how to prepare for your MMI.
1 | Brush up on health policy news.
Interviewers frequently like to recreate a current “hot-topic” in medicine in the form of a patient case. In doing so, they assess how current you are with health currents events and policy topics.
DO: be honest. If you don’t know something, say so.
DO: start following notable medical news (any recent, substantial advances in the last year or so).
DON’T: be excessive in your preparation. Keeping it simple and natural will be an effective approach.
2 | Form opinions on polarizing issues and be fluent in ethical principles.
It is better to have an opinion on something than to be wishy-washy. Take some time and reflect on how you feel about classically polarizing topics, especially ones that will affect the area in which you are interviewing.
For example, for an interview at a southern California medical school, brainstorm about medical care for undocumented immigrants, both adults and children. Form an opinion, but be ready to defend it and also acknowledge the strengths of the other opinions.
DO: be straightforward. You have limited time, so be both succinct and direct.
DO: stand up for your belief system. Be yourself!
DON’T: change your answer based on what you think the interviewer wants to hear.
3 | Check the mission statement and/or values of the school you’re applying to.
This can help give you a hint as to what is important for the school in a candidate. Look at demographics of the area the school is in, where their funding goes, or if they have received any major grants/donations for a specific purpose. Then tie this to your answers as you field questions from interviewers.
DO: find a good reason, if you don’t already have one, to attend the school you’re interviewing at.
DO: reflect on your personal experiences that have shaped your personal value system, and briefly ponder how they intersect with the school’s value system.
DON’T: be excessive. Interviewers will notice if you are trying too hard to self-promote or make it known that you read up on the school.
4 | Be familiar with how to interact with a patient actor if asked to do so.
Common scenarios include delivering bad news or an abnormal result to a patient. The interviewer will be assessing how you interact with the patient, including shaking their hand, introducing yourself and your role, and empathizing with the patient.
If you are flashing a smile while delivering bad news, the interviewer will be forced to conclude that you lack empathy, you are unaware of your facial expressions, or you are a weak communicator. Be mindful of how your verbal and nonverbal cues come across to the interviewer as well as to the patient, if applicable.
DO: be yourself! Tell stories or answer questions as if you were talking to a friend.
DO: play along! Sometimes it can be awkward to play-act in these scenarios, but do your best to get into character.
DON’T: step outside your scope of practice. Interviewers are not trying to see how good of a doctor you are. They are evaluating what communication and personal skills you possess.
5 | PRACTICE!
Mock interviews are extremely helpful in preparing yourself for the big day, regardless of the type of interview you will be encountering. This is something that our Med School Insiders team can be extremely helpful for. Check out our second-to-none interview preparation services with advisers who have served on prior admission’s committees.
DO: contact your undergraduate institution and see what resources they have available.
DO: interact with former interviewers and glean what they like to see in a candidate and what feedback they can provide you. Consider a formal consulting service if necessary.
DON’T: put this off until the last minute. Former interviewers, pre-med committees, and outside sources are all busy, and trying to get adequate feedback with enough time to make corrections takes time.
Congratulations on receiving interview invitations! This means that you’ve advanced that much closer to getting into medical school. The MMI is a unique interview style, but it offers great variability and a chance for you to really show your talents and interpersonal skills.
Be honest, be yourself, and most of all, be prepared. Feel free to reach out to Med School Insiders for more information on our mock interview services and how we can help you crush the MMI. Good luck!