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MMI Interviews: What They Are and How to Prepare

Written By Rachelle Enns on May 4th, 2020
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Rachelle Enns
Rachelle is a job search expert, career coach, and headhunter who helps everyone from students to fortune 500 executives find success in their career.
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In this guide, Mock Questions will teach you about Multiple Mini-Interviews (MMI) and how to best approach these challenging circuit-style interviews. We offer tips to help you prepare, and we provide you with sample questions and answers.

WHAT IS AN MMI INTERVIEW?

An MMI or Multiple Mini-Interview is an interactive interview style with short assessments, usually performed in a timed circuit. An MMI might have 6-10 quick evaluation stations in total.

MMIs are often used in the medical school admission process.

A Multiple Mini-Interview is a fair and sound way to evaluate medical school applicants who have already proven to have strong academic performance but still need to be assessed in terms of their suitability for the medical industry.

In other words, the medical school already knows that the applicant is strong academically. Next, the admissions committee needs to see that the applicant can handle a career in the medical field with emotional intelligence and professional poise.

Typically, an MMI is used to assess soft skills, including:

  • Emotional intelligence & maturity

  • Collaboration & teamwork

  • Style of communication, both verbal & non-verbal

  • Level of empathy for others

  • Critical thinking & the ability to cope with ambiguity

  • Ethical decision-making

  • Attention to detail

  • Ability to think quickly & under pressure

  • Cultural sensitivity & interest in social issues


The skills that are assessed in an MMI are skills that typically cannot be measured through a standard written exam.

HISTORY OF THE MULTIPLE MINI-INTERVIEW

The MMI was introduced in 2002 by McMaster University, a public research university in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.

Researchers at McMaster hypothesized that increasing the number of encounters for each interviewed applicant would lead to a more reliable assessment of the individual. This proved to be exactly the case. The MMI increases the overall reliability of the interview in judging an applicant's merits. It also dilutes the effect of a single misrepresentative showing by an applicant in any one interaction. - Source

Since its inception, the Multiple Mini-Interview is now widely used by medical schools in the United States, Canada, and internationally.

THE MULTIPLE MINI-INTERVIEW IN ACTION

  • The applicant moves between 6-10 interview stations, in a circuit. Each station takes place in its own room, typically on-site at the medical school.


  • When the applicant arrives at a station, still outside of the room, they read a card that describes the scenario they will be walking into. The applicant gets a couple of minutes to read and understand the card before they enter the room.


  • Inside each station, the applicant interacts with their assessors, addressing the issue or topic presented on the card. Each station has a time limit, allowing the applicant anywhere from 2 to 10 minutes to deliver their response.


  • When their time is up, the applicant must leave the room, whether or not they have completed their response. The applicant receives no feedback before leaving the station and going to the next. The applicant gets a short break between each station.


The 6-10 station circuit has a variety of scenario styles:

Scenario 1: The station has one or more interviewers with expertise on a specific topic. The applicant is asked an interview question and must deliver their best response within the time limit.

Scenario 2: The station is interactive, where the applicant converses with a fellow applicant regarding a specified topic or situation. The interviewer is an observer of the conversation.

Scenario 3: The station presents a role-play style scenario where the applicant interacts with an actor who is portraying a specific character. The applicant must act out how they would respond in the given situation.

After a potential medical student completes their MMI, the result of each short assessment is used to create an overall score.

TYPES OF MMI QUESTIONS

Multiple Mini-Interviews present a few question categories. These include:

SCENARIO BASED QUESTIONS: The applicant is given a hypothetical situation, and they must discuss how they would act in that scenario. For example:

You have two patients who need a kidney transplant. One patient is an elderly physician with kidney failure; the other is a 20-year-old high school dropout brought in again for binge drinking. You have only one kidney to give. Who do you give the kidney to?

ACTING BASED QUESTIONS: The applicant is given a scenario, a role to play, and a prompt. They must enter the room, where an actor awaits, and interact with them through the situation. For example:

James, a fellow medical student, often shows up on rotation hung-over and smelling like alcohol. You decide to talk to him in private. James is inside the room. Enter the room and have this conversation.

POLICY BASED QUESTIONS: The applicant is asked to provide their opinion on a current event or issue related to their medical focus. For example:

In 2019, the Reproductive Health Act expanded abortion rights. What were these changes, and how do you feel about them?

PERSONAL BASED QUESTIONS: The applicant is asked to provide their opinion on specific social issues, showcasing their values and character. For example:

As a future physician, do you feel a responsibility to be a healthy role model for your patients? Explain why or why not.

OFF-THE-WALL QUESTIONS: The applicant is asked a quirky interview question that often requires quick-thinking and strong reasoning skills. For example:

Which would you choose: To travel 1,000 years into the past or 1,000 years into the future? Give your preference and discuss.

COLLABORATION BASED QUESTIONS: The applicant is asked to collaborate with another applicant, or the interviewer, to reach a team-based goal. For example:

When you enter the room there will be a sheet of paper that illustrates how to complete an origami (paper folding) project. On the other side of the room, there is another candidate who can’t look at you, but who has a blank piece of paper. Verbally guide your colleague to completion of the origami project. You have 5 minutes to complete the project after which you will be given 3 minutes to discuss with your colleague any difficulties that arise during your communication. - Source

EXAMPLES OF MMI QUESTIONS

Typically, MMI questions are vague, and this is done so deliberately. The assessing medical school wants to give applicants the room to interpret and approach each situation in their own manner and style.

MMI SAMPLE QUESTION #1: One of your patients asks for a doctors' note to excuse them from a work conference. You do not see any symptoms of illness. Enter the room and talk to the patient about your decision to provide or not provide them with a doctors' note.

ANSWER ADVICE: This question is a role-play opportunity or 'acting' question. For acting questions, a panel of interviewers, or perhaps even an actor, will be waiting in the interview room, and you must approach the situation as you would in real life. In this scenario, you must show professionalism, empathy, and ethics.

ANSWER EXAMPLE: "I appreciate you coming to me and trusting me with your health. I am very dedicated to my patients, and when I sense that there is something wrong, I am the first person to be on your side. With that said, I cannot grant you a doctor's note for the reason of skipping out on a work obligation. I take my word seriously and am not interested in becoming involved in matters of excusal when I cannot find a medical justification. If you do not wish to attend the conference, my recommendation is to be straightforward with your employer."

MMI SAMPLE QUESTION #2: What experiences and qualities lead you to believe that you will be an excellent physician?

ANSWER ADVICE: Personal questions like this one require reflection and the ability to speak about yourself in a way that showcases your strengths but still comes across as humble. Think about why you want to be a physician or what led you to this particular career path. When you answer, be honest while making a connection between your top qualities, life experiences, and this profession. Talk about your values and how these align with the vision of the school for which you are applying.

ANSWER EXAMPLE: "I know that I will be an excellent physician because I am naturally curious, empathetic, confident, and a strong problem solver. Having long known that I want to be in the medical field, taking care of others, I chose to pursue my interest by volunteering at our local hospital two days per week. My interest only grew as I saw physicians helping others live their best lives while reaching their highest pursuits. I am someone who cares about humanity and ensuring people are as healthy as possible. While pursuing my undergrad, this desire to help others only grew. Now, recently completing an internship under a general practitioner, I have grown my skills in empathy and gained a fuller understanding of the patient-centered approach. These skills, qualities, and experiences combined give me the confidence that I will succeed as a physician."

MMI SAMPLE QUESTION #3: Hippocrates said, 'Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food.' What does this quote mean to you as you pursue a career in healthcare?

ANSWER ADVICE: Since this question is surrounding your opinion, there will not be a right or wrong answer. What is most important when approaching this question is that you show insight and also some understanding of who Hippocrates was, as he is a significant figure in the history of medicine. Show that you have a unique and thoughtful perspective, and an ability to take an age-old quote and give it meaning in today's context.

ANSWER EXAMPLE: "Nutrition is a fundamental element in health, and I believe this quote addresses that fact. Hippocrates, the 'Father of Medicine,' held strong beliefs that disease was natural, and not due to superstition or punishment from the gods. This belief led him to understand that many cures were naturally available to us on this earth. Today, many of Hippocrates' theories are now far removed from modern medicine. Yet, I believe that the saying, 'Let food be thy medicine and medicine be they food,' refers to what we still find today, which is that we can often heal ourselves naturally. In many circumstances, we can use the foods, herbs, and natural resources from the planet to heal our bodies. Hippocrates supported a 'lifestyle medicine' approach, and he was also known for saying, 'Walking is man's best medicine.' This saying is another with merit; however, today, we must be diligent in allowing traditional medicine and alternative approaches to work together to best heal our bodies from illness and disease."

TIPS TO PREPARE FOR AN MMI

It's important to remember that as a medical school applicant, you will not be judged on your medical knowledge. Instead, you are assessed on your character, your communication style, and other soft skills such as your level of empathy and ability to make sound decisions under pressure.

BECOME COMFORTABLE WITH ROLE PLAY. When it comes to acting-based MMI questions, the more comfortable you are with role-playing a hypothetical scenario, the more naturally you will perform. To become more comfortable, you could practice with a friend or watch helpful YouTube videos. If you have enough time to prepare, nothing is stopping you from taking a local acting class!

PRACTICE PUBLIC SPEAKING. Many regions offer supportive Toastmasters clubs to help those who want to practice public speaking, improve their communication style, and build their leadership skills. As an affordable and widely revered option, joining a Toastmasters group will never be a wasted investment as you develop yourself in your profession. Other reputable resources to help you with public speaking include watching and observing your favorite TED talks, online courses, and private coaches.

DETERMINE WHERE YOU STAND ETHICALLY. In an MMI, there is little tolerance for wishy-washy, on-the-fence, grey-area answers. Be ready to take a stance, support it intelligently, and stick with it. There are no right or wrong answers in an MMI, but you must present your position with confidence. To prepare, think of current ethical issues in your field. Determine what you believe in and support and why.

IN CONCLUSION

Facing an MMI interview may be one of the most challenging factors of medical school admission. Still, it's essential to understand that the MMI was created to look past academic results alone, and take a deeper dive into the maturity and ethics of those wishing to join the medical profession.

If you want a fun exercise related to your personality type and core values, this free 16Personalities test is a highly informative discovery exercise.

Lastly, be sure to check out the MMI question and answer set on our website. This set offers 30 carefully selected MMI Questions ranging across various topics and scenario types. Each question provides advice for answering, as well as an example answer.

Dedicate the time to prepare. Diving deep and practicing for your Multiple Mini-Interview will help you to understand better who you are, what you value the most, and the type of medical professional you want to become.