Multiple-Mini Interviews (MMIs)
What are multiple-mini interviews (MMIs)?
MMIs are like speed-dating, where a series of short interviews (usually lasting a few minutes and 10 minutes at most) minimises the relationship between the interviewer and the applicant and instead focuses on how they perform in a series of standardised situations.
MMIs can be split into three different categories:
- Question: the interviewer asks all applicants the same stem question, but may ask different follow-up questions depending on the answer. Questions can focus on professionalism, teamwork, communication skills and thinking processes.
- Scenario: there may be an actor involved. The student receives a prompt or a set of instructions before entering the room, and then responds by interacting with the actor (who is trained to deliver a standardised performance). Scenarios tests social interactions, communication skills, compassion and problem solving under stressful situations.
- Task: the student is given a task to complete and the interviewer rates each student. Tasks can test teamwork, problem solving and communication skills.
The rationale behind MMIs is that with many short interviews a student may have one or two weaker sessions but still perform well overall. Since MMI tests one particular aspect at each station, it allows for a consistent and replicable encounter with students, as opposed to traditional interviews where an interviewer’s rapport with a student may cloud their judgement. Another important aspect is that MMI interviewers come from a variety of backgrounds, from lay people (patients) to doctors and nurses, which is significant in this era of multi-disciplinary teams.
Each mini interview takes place in a different room or area. When the applicant comes to the door, they will see a card that describes the scenario specific to that station in a few lines. The applicant will have 2 minutes to read the information and will be told when they may enter the room. A second copy of the scenario will be placed in the room, in case the applicant needs to refer to the information provided once more. The mini interview will take a set time. At the end of that time, the session is over and the applicant should move to the next mini interview station.
Is there a right answer?
There are no right answers for many of the scenarios that applicants will see. Different candidates approach the interview in different ways. They are simply asked to adopt a position and defend any ideas they put forward, or discuss the issues raised in the scenarios.
Jake, University of Warwick
‘MMIs are like speed dating for entrance to medical school. Student opinions about them are mixed, but personally I loved my MMI interviews. Each station had a specific focus so I came out feeling like I had been asked about a little bit of everything – I had questions on my personal statement, and stations to assess my empathy and my approach to ethical issues – through a scenario or activity of matching situations to outcomes. I even had stations that involved me speaking to an angry or upset model patient. I found it a challenge but also an extremely fair and thorough assessment of me as an applicant. It was actually quite fun!’
How to prepare for MMIs
How well you perform during the interview and whether you will ultimately succeed in gaining an offer to medical school is dependent on the preparation you do. The most effective strategy to prepare for an MMI is to think of the types of questions/scenarios you will face and to practise your answers. Many people have difficulty formulating logical, cohesive, polished answers within the allotted preparation time prior to the start of each station.
Here are a few tips:
Understand the goal
Aim to answer the questions in a manner that demonstrates that you are capable of being an excellent medical student. Make a list of the attributes that you believe are essential for success as a doctor, such as integrity and the ability to think critically. Practise integrating these key attributes into your answers.
Remember that in an interview like an MMI, once time is up at a station the interview must end – even if you have not finished answering the questions yet. Train yourself with a strict time limit of about 7–8 minutes to answer questions adequately in this amount of time. It is also a really good idea to wear a watch that is visible on the day so that you can keep track of time at each interview station.
During an MMI the interviewer will often provide prompts designed to direct you. Listen carefully to the cues provided so you can take advantage of any new information that is introduced. The prompts may guide you to the specific issues that are the focus of each rotation.
Treat each station like the start of a new interview
Don’t forget that you need to make a good impression with each interviewer: introduce yourself, smile and aim for a good initial impression. If something goes wrong or you feel like you’ve underperformed put it to the back of your mind and don’t allow it to affect your performance on subsequent stations – this is easier said than done, but remember that even if one station is awful you have another nine or so chances to rectify it. So keep positive and stay focused.
Sean – University of Dundee
‘Unlike a formal interview each station is a fresh start with a new topic: the time-specific nature of each station means you need to pack in as much as you can to prove you have the potential to be a brilliant medical student within the limits of the station. And if something does go pear-shaped you start afresh at the next station, which is quite refreshing. I would prepare for this as I would any other interview – covering a broad range of subjects and thinking about how to give concise, effective answers to questions.’
Although success cannot be guaranteed, your performance can improve significantly with knowledge about the interview process, strategies to avoid frequent pitfalls and knowing ways to sell yourself so that you get the offer you deserve. Keeping calm under pressure can make the difference between achieving your goals and falling short. As you get ready for the big day, consider including a mock interview as a key part of your preparation. Simulating what you are about to experience will help build confidence, allowing you to remain calm and be more organised on the interview day.