The Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) was originally developed by researchers at McMaster University, a Canadian medical school, in 2002. Since then, a growing number of medical schools, including a handful of U.S. schools, have adopted the MMI as their primary interviewing method. Most of these schools have dropped the traditional interview process in favor of the MMI. The traditional interview usually consists of two interviews, approximately 20-45 minutes long, with members of the admissions committee. One interviewer is typically a faculty member, physician or researcher, while the other is a medical student. The accuracy of these traditional interviews have recently been called into question and as a result, the MMI has gained popularly as a potentially more effective interview method to evaluate applicants’ qualities that lie outside academics, accomplishments, and test scores. The following are some of the areas that are assessed:
2. Dealing with stress
3. Problem solving
4. Interpersonal skills
7. Pathway to medicine
Although the MMI varies from school to school, in general, an MMI consists of six to ten timed stations through which all the interviewees rotate. Each station is typically eight to ten minutes. At each station, the applicant must be ready to face various questions, scenarios, and/or tasks. Sometimes the instructions for the station are posted outside the room and the applicant is given some time (usually two minutes) to prepare. Then the applicant goes inside the room to discuss the topic with the interviewer. Other times, the interviewer presents the applicant with 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 the same question to every applicant.
The specific details of each interview station vary tremendously from school to school and year to year. Nevertheless, there are reoccurring types of stations:
1. Role play
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.
How can you prepare?
In preparing for MMI’s, you must remember that you will not be tested on specific knowledge on any given subject. Through the MMI, the admissions committee is trying to assess your ability to apply general knowledge to specific situations. They are trying 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.
The first step for preparation is understanding the format and structure of the MMI discussed above. Second, be ready to be asked questions that you may never have dreamt of. Take time to discuss and debate a wide range of political, social, and ethical issues with friends and family–you must first gain some knowledge about these issues before you discuss them. 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. Third, know yourself very well; How do you determine what is right or wrong? Why do you think in such a way? Dissect yourself intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually and ask others to do the same. Fourth, try to strike up conversations with people who you may not know very well. Get over the awkwardness of meeting multiple people; start and end a conversation firmly and confidently.
Even with preparation mentioned above, ultimately there is no real way to properly prepare for an MMI. In a way, your whole life has been preparation. There is no reason to be stressed because although the interviews are challenging, the MMI offers you a chance to be yourself. 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 Another benefit of the MMI is even if you do poorly on one or two stations, you have many other chances to redeem yourself. Many schools tend to drop the lowest and highest score to get a more accurate evaluation. This frees you from the worry of having one interviewer whom you really do not “click” with. In a way, the MMI removes much of the personal bias that traditional interviews cannot avoid. So do not worry, know yourself, and step confidently into each station.