How to navigate the different types of MMI stations

During your multiple mini interview (MMI interview), you are going to encounter many different types of MMI questions. Below we'll walk you through 7 common types of MMI questions to help with your MMI prep. If you'd like to learn about the entire 23 possible types of questions including sample difficult questions and answers, click here to grab a copy of our MMI prep book.

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MMI Question Type #1: Scenario Questions

In scenario type questions, you will be given a hypothetical situation and a role and you must discuss how you would act in that situation – what actions you would take, whom you would call on to assist, where you would seek information, etc. Scenarios are generally provided in text format, though video isn’t completely unheard of in these stations. These are questions meant to explore your critical thinking, adaptability, creativity, willingness to collaborate, ethical boundaries, and general knowledge of key ideas in the field (e.g., confidentiality, patient autonomy, etc.). These are the most common types of MMI station, so be sure to check out our sample MMI question and answer!

MMI Question Type #2: Policy Questions

Policy multiple mini interview questions will ask your opinion on important current issues – often, these will be related to your field or discipline, but they can also ask about more general current events. For example, questions about health care coverage are common in medical school interviews and Multiple Mini Interviews, and can also come up in veterinary medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, etc. Larger social questions, such as your opinion on “hot topics” in the news, may require some reflection on your own perspective as well as perspectives of those on the other side, showing nuanced, balance, mature reflection. If, for example, you were asked your opinion on the recent legalization of cannabis in some U.S. states and Canada, it is crucial that you demonstrate an understanding of those who disagree with you and the reasons why they disagree with you, before explaining why you think your own position is the more sound option.

MMI Question Type #3: Acting Questions

Multiple Mini Interview Acting Stations are among the most dreaded, simply because interviewees don’t quite know what to expect. In this kind of station, an actor awaits you in the interview room, and you must interact with them as you would in real life. You are given a role, much like a scenario question, and likely some kind of prompt – for example, “You arrive at your best friend’s house for your regularly scheduled poker night. Enter the room and speak to your best friend, Jim/Jill.” Often, the scenario inside will be a difficult or emotionally-fraught one, and you will need to show genuine compassion, empathy, and willingness to search for actionable ways to move forward. Here are some more tips on Multiple Mini Interview acting stations, and here is a video with some additional insights.

MMI Question Type #4: Personal Questions

If you’ve made it to the Multiple Mini Interview, you’ve likely already had to reflect on some key personal questions – why you want to enter this particular field (e.g., Why do you want to become a doctor? Why do you want to be a veterinarian?), what is your greatest weakness or what is your greatest limitation, have you ever had to confront an authority or resolve a conflict, etc. As such, hopefully you have already reflected on some of these things in your application, but in general, it’s important to reflect honestly and to try to connect what you’ve learned from your life experiences to the profession you want to pursue. These are questions intended to directly ask you who you are at your core, to discover your values and priorities, and to ensure that these align with the mission, vision, and values of the school or program you’re trying to get into.

MMI Question Type #5: Quirky Questions

“Quirky” questions are essentially a subset of personal questions, but they're not well-known and they can be rather tricky, so we’ll give an in-depth analysis of what they are, how they work, and some multiple mini interview sample questions of this type.

Imagine this scene: There you are, ready to go on the day of the MMI. You’re probably a little nervous or feeling a little stressed, and you’re likely in an unfamiliar location. With the right preparation, that anxiousness can be minimized through breathing techniques, de-stressing exercises, and a visit to the interview location the day before to familiarize yourself with the terrain. Still, even with flawless preparation, it’s perfectly normal to feel a bit unsteady on the day of the interview – it’s an inherently stressful situation. So, you’ve arrived on time, with enough room to go to the washroom, greet your fellow interviewees, maybe engage in a little small talk over a morning coffee or muffin, and now, it’s time to enter your first MMI station. You walk up to the door, close your eyes for a second, take a deep breath, repeat some words of encouragement to yourself, and then slowly, solemnly open your eyes again and look at the prompt, feeling ready to take on any ethical dilemma, any engagement with complex social issues, any task or logic puzzle, any high-stakes-high-drama acting station, and you see….. this:

“If you could be any kitchen utensil, which would you be and why?”

Congratulations! You’ve just encountered a “quirky” MMI question!

Quirky questions are questions meant to uncover similar qualities and attributes as the standard personal questions (your strengths, weaknesses, values, etc.), but do so in rather unconventional or unexpected ways. Sometimes, quirky questions may even seem a bit funny or odd, but they have a very specific role and purpose: to determine how you "think on your feet" in critical and creative ways, particularly when you're already under pressure and confronted with something that catches you off-guard. In this post, you’ll learn about two key types of quirky questions, learn how to think of these in the context of how the MMI is evaluated, and see some sample MMI questions in this category. 

Quirky Question Types

There are two primary kinds of quirky question that we've identified: "If you could do/be/go/have X…" questions and quote-based reflections. While these are not the only kinds of quirky questions, they are among the most common, and preparing for these will help you prepare for other kinds of unexpected questions you may get at an MMI station, traditional or panel interviews, or even CASPer.

"If you could do/be/go/have X…" questions often pose an unrealistic hypothetical and ask you to imagine yourself in a situation that would never actually take place. Essentially the opposite of scenario type questions, these require you to make sense of nonsense. For example, “If you could be any kitchen utensil, which would you be and why?” Or, “If you could wake up anywhere tomorrow and do anything, where would you go and what would you do?” Neither of these are realistic scenarios; however, the response that you give will absolutely disclose key information about who you are at your core, what you value, and what your priorities are. If you answer the question, “If you could wake up anywhere tomorrow and do anything, where would you go and what would you do?” by saying that you’d wake up in an island paradise, lay on the beach all day every day, and never work again, the interviewer will likely question whether or not you are intrinsically motivated to pursue the career you’re pursuing.

Quote-based reflections are exactly what they sound like: prompts which provide a quotation and ask you to interpret the quote and explain what it means to you. Often, the quote will be from a notable historical figure, and the quote is likely to be one with many possible interpretations. It’s important to note that the point of these prompts is not for you to come up with the "correct" interpretation of the quote - what the author "really" meant when these words were spoken or written. What matters most is how you interpret the words, apply them to your own life, and think creatively about their applicability in your chosen area of education and work. If you’re not familiar with the quote or the individual being quoted, that’s okay! What you do with the words is far more important than what you know about the person who spoke or wrote them.

Strategies for Responding to Quirky Questions

As a sub-set of personal type questions (e.g., “What is your greatest weakness/limitation?”), the same general logic informs the answers to quirky-type questions. First, offer some honest reflection on what the prompt means to you. What ideas, emotions, or connections does it inspire? What memories or associations does it conjure up? Set the stage by speaking broadly about the theme that comes to mind, and then make it personal through reflection or even anecdote, if appropriate/applicable. Next, consider ways to connect such contemplation to key qualities sought in candidates for your program, and discuss how you understand these qualities in the context of the prompt. Then, demonstrate how your interpretation and these qualities intersect in meaningful ways, with regard to your discipline. If the question or quote has given you a new, novel, or unique perspective that you’ll carry with you after this experience, you can discuss this, as well.

Here are some examples of the kinds of questions you might find in a station of this sort:

  • “If you could wake up anywhere tomorrow and do anything, where would you go and what would you do?”
  • “If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?”
  • “If you could have dinner with anyone, alive or dead, from all of history, who would it be and why?”
  • “If you could be any kitchen utensil, which would you be and why?”
  • “If you could be any animal, which animal would you be and why?”
  • “If you could create a ‘bucket list’ of three things you want to do in your life, what activities would be on that list and why would you choose those activities?”
  • “If you could travel 1,000 years into the past or 1,000 years into the future, which would you choose and why?”

Here are some examples of the kinds of quotes you might find in a station of this sort:

  • "My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together." - Desmond Tutu
  • "Our profession [medicine] is the only one which works unceasingly to annihilate itself." - Martin H. Fischer
  • "Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else." - Margaret Mead
  • "Washing one's hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless means to side with the powerful, not to be neutral." - Paulo Freire
  • "The only thing that makes life possible is permanent, intolerable uncertainty; not knowing what comes next." - Ursula Le Guin
  • "Education has failed in a very serious way to convey the most important lesson science can teach: skepticism." - David Suzuki
  • "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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MMI Question Type #6: Writing Questions

Most MMI stations will have you responding verbally to an interviewer, based on a prompt. However, there are times when you will be instructed to type your answer, instead. The strategies for this are no different than the verbal stations, but just be aware that this is a possibility, so it doesn’t surprise you on the day of your Multiple Mini Interview.

MMI Question Type #7: Collaborative Questions

Along with acting stations, multiple mini interview collaborative stations (also referred to as teamwork stations, drawing stations, or building stations) often cause students a good deal of stress and worry. These questions require you to work with others – an interviewer, another interviewee, or a small group – to solve a problem, copy a picture or structure, or resolve a situation.

For example, you may be given an image and asked to help the other person draw the image without seeing it. These are usually geometric images, and using an XY system (Cartesian coordinates) to plot points and then connect the dots is the easiest way to tackle this. Before you begin, however, there are important steps that must be taken. This kind of station is meant to evaluate your attention to detail, your ability to instruct someone unfamiliar with a task, your communication skills, etc., so care must be taken in every step of the process. This is a station where the process is as valuable as the result. So, for instance, if I’m given a geometric image with two different colored lines (black and blue), and my partner has to draw this based on my instruction, the first thing I’m going to do is ask my partner if they have a standard 8.5”x11” piece of paper, a black pen, and a blue pen. Ensuring the materials needed are present demonstrates great attention to detail, and – in the event that they had, say, a black pen and a red pen – you can show your adaptability by substituting blue for red.

Next, you’ll want to walk them through setting up the X, Y graph, and you must do so as if this person hasn’t taken any math classes in a very long time. Remember, interviewers can be anyone, even people from the community, so you can’t assume that they’ll know what you’re talking about if you say, “Okay, go ahead and set up the basic graph for a Cartesian coordinate system.” It’s entirely likely that they’ll have no idea what you’re talking about, so you need to break this process down into steps (“First, start by using your black pen to create a large capital-L on your paper, in portrait orientation, starting vertically about an inch from the top to an inch from the bottom, and horizontally beginning about an inch from the left across to an inch from the right. Do you have a capital-L on your paper now? Good! Now, in approximately 1 centimeter increments, please divide each line into 10 points – so, starting where the two lines touch [point 0, 0], move 1cm to the right and put a little mark and number this ‘1’, move another centimeter to the right and label this ‘2’. Do the same, moving to the right up through ‘10’, and then do this vertically, again starting where the two lines touch and moving toward the top of the page.”). In your future profession, you’ll have to explain complicated ideas and materials to non-specialists all the time, so demonstrating this ability is crucial.

Here is a discussion of some other kinds of MMI collaborative questions.

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