Applying to Medical School

How to Prepare for Multiple Mini Interviews + Sample Questions

If a school interested in your primary and secondary applications invites you to an MMI or “multiple mini interview,” it’s important you understand why and how these interviews work. MMIs are structured as a series of 8-12 interview questions at different stations designed to assess how well you communicate.

The questions and concepts are meant to learn your verbal and nonverbal communication skills in a way that can’t be measured by your transcript or standardized test scores.

The Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) format is becoming increasingly common during the medical school application process. It was originally developed by researchers at McMaster University in 2002. Since then, a growing number of medical schools have adopted the MMI as their primary approach to interviews, many of which have dropped other formats entirely.

It’s popular because it’s often considered a more effective interview method to evaluate applicants’ qualities that lie outside academics, accomplishments, and test scores. Let’s discuss how you can excel during MMI interviews and improve your chances of getting accepted.

What MMIs Test

MMI scenarios are designed to test your soft skills as an applicant, going beyond the information you can memorize and observing how you communicate and interact with the world around you. They test skills such as:

  • Professionalism
  • Critical thinking
  • Problem-solving
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Sensitivity to culture and diversity
  • Integrity/ethics
  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Empathy

If it’s hard to test by asking data-driven questions and may come up during a medical career, you can probably expect it to come up at an MMI. It can be difficult to acutely prepare for an MMI because it assesses your beliefs, thought processes, and communication skills (things that you can’t change in a short period of time).

Related Reading: Tips for the Med School Application Cycle

The Format of a Multiple Mini Interview

Although the MMI varies from school to school, it typically consists of 8-12 different stations and takes about 2 hours. At each station, applicants are given several minutes to respond to various questions, scenarios, and/or tasks. In general, you’ll be given a specific prompt and have 2 minutes of prep time and 5-8 minutes to deliver your response.

Sometimes, the instructions for the station are posted outside the interview room, and the applicant is given about 2 minutes to prepare. Other times, the interviewer presents the instructions as soon as they enter the room. The interviewers remain at the same station for the duration of the entire MMI process, asking every applicant the same question.

The specific details of each interview station vary tremendously from school to school and year to year. In general, you should expect:

  1. Roleplay
  2. Teamwork tasks
  3. Ethical dilemmas
  4. Questions about social, health, or policy issues
  5. Traditional interview questions
  6. Essay writing

There are strict time restrictions for every station, and the interviewer is prohibited from giving the applicant feedback of any kind. Each interviewer rates the applicant on their response.

In contrast, the traditional interview usually consists of two interviews with 1-3 admissions committee members, each approximately 20-45 minutes long. One interviewer is typically a faculty member, physician, or researcher, while one is a medical student.

Common MMI questions include both acting scenarios and non-acting questions. During acting questions, you’ll be expected to roleplay a circumstance. You may also be asked to do teamwork scenarios, in which you work with another applicant to accomplish a specific task.

Some admissions committee members compare the MMI to speed dating because you meet so many people in a short time and must constantly think on your feet and talk about various topics. 

Nervous about your upcoming MMI? Our Physican Advisors can help you prep for your interviews and walk you through every step of the process of getting into medical school.

How To Prepare For an MMI Interview

You will not be tested on specific knowledge of any given subject during an MMI. Instead, the admissions committee will assess your ability to apply general knowledge to specific situations similar to those that may arise during your medical career. They want to see how you think and how well you communicate your thoughts.

Your ability to think on your feet, adapt to new situations, and stay calm under pressure is critical. There are no right or wrong answers. You simply get to use skills and wisdom that you acquired over the years — skills and wisdom that you have been using your whole life.

To stand out in your MMI interview:

  • Carefully listen to each question or scenario.
  • Ask clarifying questions if you’re confused about any part of the scenario.
  • Respond confidently to scenarios presented to you.
  • Answer using a consistent and ethical worldview.
  • Show compassion.
  • Don’t second-guess yourself and change your answer mid-way through.

While you can’t prep for your MMIs like you can the MCAT, there are steps you can take to confidently answer the questions provided to you. (Fortunately, there is often some overlap between MMI interviews and Casper test questions, so preparing for one helps get you ready for the other.)

1. Understand the Format and Structure of the MMI.

Remind yourself of the timing of this interview. If you’re given 2 minutes to prepare, try to use those 2 minutes to come up with a response that reasonably fits in the 5-8 minutes you’re given to answer.

2. Prepare for Surprising Questions.

Take time to discuss and debate a wide range of political, social, and ethical issues — you must first gain some knowledge of these issues to answer questions on those topics. Learn how to see both sides of an argument and think in a balanced manner. You must be able to confidently defend a position without being arrogant, ignorant, or misinformed.

Practice questions and mock interviews will help you prepare. Even if the sample questions you rehearse don’t come up in your interview, they’ll prepare you to think quickly and deeply about important topics.

Talk to MedSchoolCoach about how to ace the admissions process for med school, including cutting-edge MMI prep.

3. Know Your Morals and Principles.

During the interview, you will be asked how you will behave in a certain situation. To answer the question, you’ll not only have to explain the actions you’ll take but also why you would take those actions. 

Be prepared for follow-up questions like these:

  • Why do you think it is wrong not to inform a patient that she got more anesthesia than expected?
  • Is it ever okay to withhold information from the patient?
  • Why is it important that you don’t criticize your attending in front of other staff members?

Carefully consider your worldview prior to answering any of these questions and remain consistent throughout the entire interview.

4. Understand the 4 Primary Bioethical Principles.

The 4 commonly accepted bioethical principles are:

  1. Respect for autonomy
  2. Nonmaleficence
  3. Beneficence
  4. Justice

Ethical conundrums are tricky because there isn’t always a right answer. However, you should be able to defend whatever answer you give.

Related Reading: Medical School Requirements and Prerequisite Coursework

5. Discover What It Means to Be “Patient-Centered.”

“Patient-centered care” is a buzz phrase that many healthcare systems and medical schools emphasize as the culture of medicine shifts. Dying are the days of overlord physicians who dictate their patient’s care. Effective, compassionate communication is the key to being a good physician.

That is why every interviewee must understand what it means to be patient-centered. At the core, you must do your best to see things from a patient’s perspective and be able to identify with them.

A good way to start is by asking yourself, “If I were the patient and very unfamiliar with the world of medicine, how would I act in this situation?”

Why did the patient go to the emergency room in the middle of the night when she only had a migraine? Maybe because she thought she was having a stroke or brain bleed from bumping her head on a door. 

6. Have Lively Discussions With Friends and Family.

One of the best ways to prepare for the MMI is to discuss serious and controversial topics with people who are close to you. It’s important to practice this with those who will be honest with you and respectfully question your reasoning, beliefs, and decision-making. It gives you the opportunity to articulate your thoughts while also being open to other ideas.

Practice being teachable and open-minded. Interviewers want to see that applicants are passionate and opinionated but also very open to new ideas. Practice this with other pre-med students — they need the chance to get ready, too.

Related Reading: Medical School Interview Questions Related to Covid-19

7. Get Comfortable Talking to Strangers.

During MMIs, you’ll be answering all types of questions in person with people you don’t know. If you’re shy, this could come off as a lack of confidence. By now, you’ve hopefully spent enough time in clinical settings that this should be second nature. Otherwise, it’s worth honing these skills before any kind of interview.

8. Practice Your Acting Skills.

In MMI “roleplay” or “acting” stations, you’ll be required to act out a scenario with the interview, such as speaking to a patient or addressing a colleague. While you don’t need acting lessons to make this work, it’s a good idea to prepare yourself for this non-traditional format.

The most important factor to remember when roleplaying scenarios is to take it seriously. You may be tempted to laugh or make off-hand comments if you’re uncomfortable, but this can undermine your ability to respond successfully to the question. Work to keep your tone of voice and body language appropriate to the scenario.

Your interviewers use these scenarios to gauge how you’d respond to someone in a real-life situation. Whether or not it feels awkward for you, it’s certainly good practice for future interactions during your healthcare career.

MMI Categories

1. Ethical Scenarios

These scenarios will test your ability to handle medical ethics dilemmas that may arise during a career in healthcare. There are hundreds of topics this might cover, but common ethical scenarios center around subjects like:

  • Patient confidentiality
  • Patient preferences (regarding everything from sexual health to alternative medicine)
  • Bodily autonomy and consent
  • Safety of others
  • Euthanasia
  • Contraception and family planning
  • Delivering bad news to patients and their family members

2. Character Development

You’ll recognize questions in this section as more “traditional” interview queries. Interviewers want to know how well you can recognize your own strengths, flaws, and areas for improvement. Not all of these questions will directly relate to your career in medicine. Some acting stations may utilize roleplaying scenarios that require you to speak to a friend, colleague, or family member.

Sample character development questions during an MMI include:

  • What is your greatest weakness?
  • Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
  • Explain a past failure and how you would handle the same situation now.
  • You notice a coworker putting merchandise into their pocket from a store shelf and looking around nervously. They don’t notice you watching them. What do you do?
  • ACTING: You’ve recently given birth to your first child. Your best friend, who was pregnant around the same time, lost their baby in a tragic late-stage miscarriage. Call your friend on the phone to offer your condolences.

3. Teamwork

Teamwork questions on the MMI are formatted differently than standard questions and answers. Instead of being asked how you’ve worked with teammates in the past, you’ll be asked to complete some sort of team-based activity or problem.

Depending on the school, you may enter the room with another applicant and be asked to work together, or you may be asked to work with your interviewer to accomplish a task. These often involve one person giving instructions with the other physically following those instructions to complete the task.

This category of question is designed to test:

  • How well you can work with someone you haven’t worked with before.
  • Whether or not you can understand and implement verbal instructions (which is very likely to happen frequently during your medical education and career).
  • Your ability to verbalize instructions in a way another person can understand (again, something you’ll frequently need to do as a doctor).

10 Sample MMI Questions

There are hundreds of questions that may come up on interview day — we compiled over 120 of them for you to use in your prep. Here are a few sample MMI questions to start:

  • A 14-year-old girl comes to your office requesting birth control pills and a pregnancy test. She tells you that she’ll need an abortion if the test is positive, but that she doesn’t want her parents to know. How do you respond?
  • Explain the hardest choice you’ve ever had to make. Were you pleased with the outcome of your decision? Why or why not?
  • Tell me how your cultural background has influenced your perspective of the medical community. How do you believe it will or will not influence your experience and passion as a member of the healthcare field?
  • A patient with a compromised immune system asks for your thoughts on a recently released vaccine being used to combat a pandemic. They’ve heard it’s incredibly dangerous. How do you advise them?
  • A pediatric patient approaches you privately about considering gender reassignment. They don’t want to share this with their family yet, but ask about hormone replacement therapy to begin this process. What is your response?
  • An unconsicous patient in your ER received a blood transfusion after a car accident. When the family arrives, they inform you blood transfusions are against this patient’s religious beliefs. How do you talk to the family? What do you say to your patient when they wake up?
  • What is your opinion on legalized recreational drugs, such as marijuana? Do you believe this should be expanded to other substances?
  • A long-time patient of your primary care practice discovers they have an aggressive form of cancer. When you recommend an oncologist and suggest they may need to begin treatment immediately, they tell you they are going to wait while trying alternative medicine treatments first. How do you respond?
  • Your father discovers he has a potentially fatal condition. The treatment for this procedure can result in a total cure but has a 25% mortality rate. How do you advise him?
  • Tell me about a time you took a risk and failed spectacularly. How has that experience changed the way you view risk and reward?

How is the MMI scored?

MMIs are scored on a 10-point scale, where 1 is the best potential score. Each station’s interviewer will score the applicant, and the scores are aggregated together for a final interview score. Many schools tend to drop the lowest and highest stations’ scores to get a more accurate evaluation. This frees you from the worry of having one interviewer you really do not click with.

Which Medical Schools Use MMIs In the Application Process?

According to the AAMC, these schools currently use the MMI in their application review (as of spring 2024):

  • Albany Medical College
  • Anne Burnett Marion School of Medicine at TCU
  • Central Michigan University College of Medicine
  • Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine & Science
  • Dalhousie University Faculty of Medicine (Canada)
  • Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell
  • Duke University School of Medicine
  • Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine
  • Max Rady College of Medicine, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Manitoba (Canada)
  • McGill University Faculty of Medicine (Canada)
  • McGovern Medical School at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
  • McMaster University Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine (Canada)
  • Michigan State University College of Human Medicine
  • New York Medical College
  • New York University Grossman School of Medicine
  • New York University Grossman Long Island School of Medicine
  • Nova Southeastern University Dr. Kiran C. Patel College of Allopathic Medicine
  • Oregon Health & Science University School of Medicine
  • Ponce Health Sciences University School of Medicine
  • Queen’s University Faculty of Health Sciences (Canada)
  • Rutgers, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
  • San Juan Bautista School of Medicine (Puerto Rico)
  • Stanford University School of Medicine
  • State University of New York Upstate Medical University
  • Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Paul L. Foster School of Medicine
  • The University of Toledo College of Medicine
  • Universidad Central del Caribe School of Medicine (Puerto Rico)
  • Universite de Montreal Faculty of Medicine (Canada)
  • Universite de Sherbrooke Faculty of Medicine (Canada)
  • University of Alabama School of Medicine
  • University of Arizona College of Medicine
  • University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix
  • University of British Columbia Faculty of Medicine (Canada)
  • University of California, Davis, School of Medicine
  • University of California, Los Angeles, David Geffen School of Medicine (Prime-LA)
  • University of California, Riverside, School of Medicine
  • University of California, San Diego, School of Medicine
  • University of Cincinnati College of Medicine
  • University of Houston College of Medicine
  • University of Illinois College of Medicine
  • University of Massachusetts Medical School
  • University of Michigan Medical School
  • University of Minnesota Medical School
  • University of Mississippi School of Medicine
  • University of Missouri Kansas City School of Medicine
  • University of Nevada, Reno School of Medicine
  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine
  • University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine (Canada)
  • University of South Carolina School of Medicine Greenville
  • University of Texas at Austin Dell Medical School
  • University of Texas Medical Branch School of Medicine
  • University of Vermont College of Medicine
  • Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine
  • Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine
  • Wake Forest School of Medicine of Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center
  • Wayne State University School of Medicine

What Should You Wear to an MMI Interview?

Dress in smart-casual attire for your MMIs, opting for skirts, dresses, dress pants, blazers, etc. Avoid overly casual clothing, such as jeans, tennis shoes, or t-shirts. Ensure that your hair, accessories, and overall physical appearance are clean, modest, and polished.

This is one of the most important interviews you’ll ever have, so be sure to dress your best.

Though many schools do these interviews virtually, it’s best to dress just as you would for an in-person variation of the interview. If you’re planning for a virtual interview, make sure to log on in an uncluttered, quiet area where your face is well-lit.

Why Do Medical Schools Use This Interview Format?

Research shows that the MMI format may provide a more reliable assessment of a candidate and reduces bias, particularly gender bias. That’s why many colleges of medicine, dentistry, and nursing now implement them as a normal part of their admissions process.

During a traditional one-on-one interview process, an applicant interviews with two to three people at most. That means admissions decisions are based on the opinions and biases of only a few people.

The MMI is much more objective, given that applicants meet with 8-12 interviewers assessing applicants in a number of stations. This allows prospective students multiple opportunities to showcase their competencies on interview day.

This gives students an advantage. If you didn’t perform well in one MMI station, you can regroup before starting the next station with an interviewer who didn’t see your mistakes. Traditional panel interviews don’t offer that level of redeeming potential.

However, more comprehensive studies suggest that this format alone is not sufficient for eliminating all bias, particularly for applicants of dramatically different cultural or socioeconomic backgrounds than their interviewers. Later research found that adding normative rating scales to this process may further improve the validation of this interview format.

A qualitative study once found that some interviewers were concerned with systemic bias that occurred within the scenarios themselves. Over time, the MMI format will continue to be improved as the gold standard for bias elimination in medical school interviews.

Want the best chance for success in applying to medical school?

Here’s a quick pro tip: Send thank-you letters to your interviewers after your MMI. This helps you stand out from the crowd!

Learn about how the Physician Advisors at MedSchoolCoach can walk you through the medical school admissions and application process for your best shot at getting into the school of your choice.

Renee Marinelli MD

Renee graduated magna cum laude from California State University San Marcos with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. While attending school, she worked for a neurosurgeon where she led clinical trials. Renee attended the University of California, Irvine School of Medicine where she served on the admissions committee and interviewed many applicants. In medical school, Renee met her future husband, a military scholarship student. After medical school, both Renee and her husband attended family medicine residency in Hawaii where she also served on the residency admissions committee. She has mentored and assisted many students in the medical school admissions process and brings a wealth of experience serving on both medical school and residency admission committees. She is excited to continue to provide guidance to students while spending quality time with her son.

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