Medical school interviews can be nerve-wracking and anxiety-inducing experiences. Yet, at the same time, they are outstanding opportunities that 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 provide you with the knowledge you need to prepare.
For a thorough overview of the interview process, read our complete Medical School Interview Guide.
What is the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI)?
MMI was pioneered by McMaster University in 2002 as a way of better understanding prospective students. McMaster felt that by having applicants make an impression on several different faculty members, they’d have a more complete picture of who they are as candidates. They accomplished this by creating a 10 station circuit (which has now evolved to range from 6 to 10 stations) that the interviewee rotates through, 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 US MD programs have adopted this method of interviewing, including many top-tier schools, though Traditional Interviews (TIs: one-on-one longer interviews that are minimally structured) are still widely used.
What Should I Expect from MMI?
Though the specifics and structure of MMIs vary by school, several general themes are shared across institutions.
- You will face 6-10 stations where you will be one-on-one with an interviewer. A patient actor may or may not be involved.
- You will interview at each station for approximately 8 minutes, with 2 minutes to rotate.
- You will encounter a new prompt at each station that you will read before you enter the room.
- Expect little to no feedback or reactions from the interviewers. They’re often told not to react to your statements. They will simply ask questions and follow-ups.
5 Steps to Prepare for MMI
The prompts at each station will vary, but they will not assess your 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 whether or not you are up-to-date with current health events and policy topics.
DO: be honest. If you don’t know something, say so.
DO: start following notable medical news, such as any recent, substantial advances in the last year or so.)
DON’T: be excessive in your preparation. Keeping it simple and natural is most effective.
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 polarizing healthcare 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 and be ready to defend it, but it’s also important to acknowledge the strengths of the other arguments.
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 | Review the Mission Statement and Values of the School
This can give you a hint as to what the school is specifically looking for in a candidate. Look at the 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. Tie this knowledge 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 demonstrate your extensive knowledge of the school.
4 | Be Familiar with How to Interact with a Patient Actor if Asked
You should prepare for and be familiar with how to interact with a patient actor if you are asked to do so. A common scenario is 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 either 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 your communication skills and ability to demonstrate empathy.
5 | PRACTICE!
The most important thing you can do to prepare for an MMI interview is to practice. Practice on your own, in front of other people, and in mock interviews. Don’t wait until you begin receiving interview offers to start practicing.
DO: contact your undergraduate institution and see what resources they have available.
DO: interact with former interviewers to gather feedback and understand exactly what they like to see in a candidate. Consider a formal consulting service if you want or need extra help.
DON’T: put this off until the last minute. Former interviewers, premed committees, and outside sources are all busy. Make sure to start this process early to secure reliable feedback.
Congratulations on receiving interview invitations! This means you’re 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 demonstrate your talents and interpersonal skills.
Be honest, be yourself, and most of all, be prepared.
Mock interviews are extremely helpful in preparing you for the big day, regardless of the type of interview you will be encountering. Our Med School Insiders team can help. Check out our second-to-none interview preparation services with advisers who have served on prior admissions committees.
Reach out to Med School Insiders for more information on our mock interview services and how we can help you crush the MMI.