In this blog, I’ll draw on my own experiences on both sides of the MMI interview, helping you understand the MMI and providing key tips for performing effectively during your own MMI interview. As well, you’ll see sample MMI questions and expert responses, to help you think through your own approach to this challenging interview format.
Note: If you would like to navigate to specific sections of the article, click "Article Contents" above (on mobile) or on the right (desktop) to see an overview of the content.
I was pathetically nervous for my first multiple mini interview. It was 2007. I was interviewing at a med school. They asked me a question about breast-feeding. I do not know what the question was. I do not recall my answer. I do, however, recall the intense corporeal anxiety associated with me fumbling for an answer to the question. I was so focused on figuring out the correct answer that I did not spend any time telling that interviewer about my relationship to the topic, how I think, the way I problem-solve, or who I am. I did poorly on that interview. I was not accepted that year.
Since 2007, I have participated in three MMI interviews as a candidate and two more as an evaluator at McMaster med school. Of the dozens of MMI questions I have encountered since my first MMI experience, I only felt very well prepared – substance wise – for a handful. I only had pre-designed answers for those questions that had to do with me and my life.
There is no use trying to pre-design your answers for the majority of MMI questions because it's not possible for anyone to predict them in advance. Instead it's way better to learn strategies for identifying and answering different . There is a also lot of value in MMI prep that allows you to reflect on the various experiences that you’ve had that lead you to the moment of the interview. In addition, there's value in reflecting on your own opinions, your moral persuasions, your own biases, and your own view of the major issues facing our public today.
Before I tell you more, if you like us to help you with your MMI and learn how to identify and ace different types of MMI questions, click the button below to learn more about our MMI prep programs. You'll have the option of unlimited prep with mock MMIs until we're confident you are 100% ready. And we put our money where our mouth is. Everything comes with our 100% satisfaction guarantee and a couple of our programs even come with our Get In Or Your Money Back guarantee. We do this because were were students just like you and we only create programs we believe in ourselves and willing to offer our own family and friends at full prices. Click the button below to enroll now to schedule a free initial consultation to learn more.
Overview of what you will learn about preparing for the MMI Interview in this blog:
MMI Interview: Understanding the System
If we could, we would try out potential doctors in the clinic and in the hospital to test their suitability for the profession. We would try out potential lawyers in a courtroom. We would "test run" aspiring candidates in their chosen field, seeing how they actually conduct themselves in professional circumstances. But this is completely unrealistic. All we can do is leverage a system that is designed to have each candidate paint us a picture of who they may be as a physician, lawyer, nurse, pharmacist, veterinarian, and so on. We can then map our impression of each candidate onto the clinical or professional setting based on their responses to how they would behave or respond in a variety of stressful, ethically-nebulous situations.
What is the system that has been designed to show evaluators who each candidate may be as a future practicing professional? It is the MMI. This unique, and now popular, interview format began in 2002 at McMaster University as part of a research project aimed at understanding how to select for the kinds of medical students that would eventually become humane, and competent doctors (though, it must be noted, the MMI is not used only for medical school today – many programs in veterinary medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, nursing, and others now utilize the MMI). McMaster was hyper-aware that medical schools across Canada & the United States were graduating future-doctors about which patients frequently complained.
The Official Interviewer Manual is in the public domain and it explains how McMaster uses the MMI to select for specific traits in their student body. Much like , preparing for the Multiple Mini Interview – or MMI – begins by understanding it as a (SJT) claimed to help interviewers identify soft skills, such as communication, professionalism, and adherence to ethics, and to more accurately predict medical school performance based on such an evaluation. If you have made it to the MMI interview stage, it is because you have achieved solid academic accomplishments, put together a compelling application, scored well on the MCAT or other standardized tests, performed well on a CASPer test, or some combination of these. So, congratulations on getting this far! But, the MMI is a significant hurdle, but getting through it simply requires understanding it, ensuring you’re practicing effectively, and getting expert feedback on your MMI prep.
Here's a brief video explaining the present and future of situational judgment tests (SJTs)!
MMI Interview: Understanding the Interview Structure
At a Multiple Mini Interview, each candidate is asked to participate in a variety of short, problem-based stations. Traditionally, these stations last for 10 minutes each and there are 12 stations in each interview. However, there are many variations on these details. There are many , and each station involves something new: a new patient or client to engage (i.e., an actor), a new issue to problem-solve around, a debate on which to opine, a team-building exercise to complete collaboratively.
Multiple Mini Interviews can vary in length, but the fundamental components are the same. Prior to meeting with the interviewer at each station, you will be given a prompt – this could be a direct question, a scenario, a role for you to play, a quote to ponder, etc. – and you will be given a short amount of time to consider the prompt, usually 2 minutes. The prompt is usually provided in text format, but video format is possible, as well (for the details of the MMI you will take, please review the website of the individual institution, or contact them directly). Note that the prompts at each station are often vague or have the potential to be interpreted in several different ways; this is completely intentional and is meant to determine how you will navigate such ambiguity.
After the time allocated to reviewing the prompt has concluded, a buzzer will sound, and you will enter the interview space with the interviewer (and/or the actors or other interviewees with whom you will interact at the station, in acting and collaborative stations). At that point, you will have a limited amount of time to discuss your answer, generally anywhere from 6 to 10 minutes. Often, though not always, the prompt will be available inside the interview space, so you don’t have to memorize it, but you should contact the school to find out if this is the case (you can also ask about the duration of each station, whether you’re allowed a pen and paper to take notes, etc.). During the interview time, if you’ve concluded your answer before the time expires, the interviewer may ask you a follow-up question about your response, which you must also attempt to answer within the allotted time; if there is no follow-up question, you will simply remain in the room with the interview until it is time to move on. Review our blog to learn
After the answer time is up, another buzzer will sound, and you will move to the next station. You must stop your answer when this time is up – even if you haven’t finished your sentence. The interviewers are instructed not to let the answer go over the time limit, under any circumstances. This pattern continues until you have completed all stations.
MMI Interview: Understanding How the MMI is Evaluated
The MMI is not intended to test your pre-existing knowledge within the field you’re pursuing. Rather, it is a test of your analytic and communications skills, your ability to problem-solve in a social context, and your overall suitability for the profession. Interviewers do not necessarily have a background in the program or profession; they could be practicing professionals, or they could be professors, students, or even people from the general community.
Interviewers are instructed to evaluate each interviewee’s performance relative to all other interviewees that day. Your performance is evaluated via a Likert scale from 1-10, where 1 is “Unsuitable for the profession”, and 10 is “Outstanding”. You will not receive feedback from the interviewers at any point.
Learn more about how the Multiple Mini Interview is scored:
It’s important to note that all aspects of your presentation for the day are under scrutiny for professionalism and suitability for the profession. That includes things like your physical presentation, so be sure to review our blog (with tips that are pretty universal, in terms of profession). Check out this link for tips on .
Here is a video exploring a frequently-overlooked aspect of MMI performance evaluation -- your behavior in between stations:
MMI Interview: Does this System Actually Work?
1. Is the MMI at least as good as a traditional panel interview in predicting future performance on medical licensing exams?
2. Is the MMI at least as good as a traditional panel interview in predicting professionalism in practice?
The systematic review found that the answer to the first question is: Yes.
The answer to the second question? Not sure, more research is required.
The findings persist for assessment of MMI performance as a valid predictor of licensing performance for international medical graduates (IMGs) (). In their 2009 study of MMI validity for licensing exam performance predictions, Eva et al write "although a complementary predictive relationship has consistently been observed between grade point average and MMI results, the extent to which cognitive and non-cognitive qualities are distinct appears to depend on the scope of practice within which the two classes of qualities are assessed" (). That is, in some practice settings, there are professional skills that matter but have nothing to do with the cognitive assets employed on the licensing exam. Conversely, there are practice settings for which the professional skills required match the cognitive and non-cognitive skills assessed in the licensing exam perfectly. So, when it comes to figuring out if the MMI will predict things like possible future complaints from regulatory bodies, the verdict is still out.
Though it was originally designed as a vehicle for assessing personal traits and professional acumen in medical students, it is claimed that the MMI is actually a great predictor of cognitive performance as assessed by the licensing exams. Licensing exams do, however, have sections dedicated to the legal and ethical issues of medical practice but do not test their deployment in a simulated clinical setting.
First and foremost, as you may already know, and as shows, you must practice with realistic, timed simulations and get expert feedback for your responses to learn from your mistakes. I’ll talk more about that shortly, but there are some other important tips to review first.
MMI Interview Tip #1
Relax: Examiners and actors want you to be at ease so they can get to see the real you. It is common for students to anticipate an audience who wants to see them mess up, who wants to call them out on some failing. But let me tell you a secret: You audience wants to see you succeed. No one wants this to be stressful – including your interviewer! No one is out to watch you fail. Everyone present wants to have an interesting conversation with you. They want to see you at your best, so they can give you a fair evaluation. Remember, they’re not necessarily looking for reasons to exclude you, to strike you off the list of candidates; they’re also looking for reasons to keep you.
MMI Interview Tip #2
Thoughtful Quality: Take your time to say a few things of substance rather than rushing into a topic with a bunch of clichéd phrases while you buy yourself time to think up something good. Just take a second. Take a deep breath. Square your shoulders. Smile warmly. You already have something of substance to say because you’ve been practicing and reading widely. In your MMI preparations, review to see this thoughtfulness in action (more on this in Section III).
You can even look for inspiration in the headlines and the world around you as you prepare for your MMI. Here’s an example of an ethical dilemma in the news:
MMI Interview Tip #3
Show Empathy: When situations call upon you to be in relationship with another person, situate all your actions and positions from an “If I was in their shoes, what would this be like?” perspective. This shows intellectual adaptability and humane situational analysis skills. And it’s what is asked of professionals every day, all day, particularly in medicine, nursing, law, dentistry, veterinary medicine, teaching/scholarship, or any career that allows you to serve others or has others relying on you for advice, guidance, and instruction.
MMI Interview Tip #4
Ethical Acumen: Know your ethical principles and the legal framework for controversial issues. If you’re an aspiring medical student, read Doing Right, by Philip Herbert, and be prepared to draw upon the terminology in framing your responses. Whatever your desired discipline, review the ethical standards of the profession prior to the MMI interview. You don’t need to know the ethical code inside and out, but you do need to show that you understand the kinds of ethical responsibilities you’ll be expected to take on, and that you’re willing to invest yourself – even at this early stage – to beginning the process of internalizing these ethical principles.
MMI Interview Tip #5
Don’t force the story, but try to tell it: Often, you will see no direct parallel between the MMI question and your own life. That’s ok. Don’t try to worm in a story about your time on the volleyball team when they’re asking you about end-of-life care. But if the question is about handling conflict, for example, you can definitely share some insight into your life and particular situations where you have experienced something similar.
MMI Interview Tip #6
Learn the different types of MMI questions: There are many different types of MMI Interview questions, including scenarios, policy questions, acting stations, collaborative or teamwork tasks, personal questions, and more. We’ve addressed the most common MMI question types elsewhere, so follow this link for a rundown of the seven most .
Here's a detailed video discussing MMI acting stations:
MMI Interview Tip #7
Review MMI sample questions and expert responses: This will help you understand what a polished, well-thought-out, and reflective answer looks like, and how such answers convey key qualities and core competencies sought by MMI interview evaluators. Remember, this isn’t necessarily about having a robust background knowledge of the intimate details of each situation, and your own unique answers may vary considerably from these, because your answer should be yours, and not something scripted out by someone else in advance. You can think about the content of the answers and your opinions of this content, but you should pay just as much attention to how these ideas are conveyed. These answers show thoughtfulness, reflectiveness, compassion, critical thinking, and effective communication skills. This should be your goal, as well. You can see some at this link, and we'll have even more for you in Section III of this guide!
MMI Interview Tip #8
Learn strategies for how to prepare for MMIs in advance and get expert feedback: While there are no “correct” answers to Multiple Mini Interview prompts, there are absolutely more and less effective strategies for approaching them. Your communication, professionalism, and suitability for the profession are determined in a number of ways. The interviewers are looking to determine how many of the key ideas in the prompt you have identified, and whether you have effectively prioritized those ideas (focusing on the most pressing issue, and dealing lower priority issues later), and whether you have isolated the key pressing issue(s) and addressed this maturely and professionally.
They also need to determine whether you are objective, non-judgmental, professional, mindful, compassionate, and diplomatic, and whether you’ve carried over any assumptions from the prompt (or, better, whether you have questioned such assumptions and applied critical thinking skills in exploring the scenario). Your ability to avoid a biased, one-sided response and to consider multiple perspectives will highlight your critical thinking skills and your maturity.
It's important to demonstrate consistent ethics and the ability to maintain your ethics under pressure, and when presented with conflict, you want to pursue productive, positive resolutions, focusing on maximizing the well-being of all involved.
A response that manages to do all of these things will likely receive a strong evaluation.
While sample MMI questions and expert responses are very useful, such MMI Interview prep is only effective if you have expert feedback. Even good responses can benefit from additional consideration to make them truly outstanding, and our , one-on-one programs give you the opportunity to work with experts, who will give you the most realistic mock MMI possible, and individual, customized feedback to determine exactly what is best about your responses, and what still needs additional work. We’ll also ensure you have the information to continue improving, while helping to build your confidence, giving you pointers on every aspect of your presentation and professionalism, and additional resources to keep practicing. Without expert feedback, there is no way to know if you are unintentionally making unconscious mistakes, missing key concepts, or carrying over assumptions from the prompt. Are you wondering Check out our blog for the answer.
Check out our top tips for acing your MMI:
If you’ve followed our advice above, you’ve reviewed (and if you haven’t, there’s the link again!), which means you understand the difference between things like “scenario” questions, “policy” questions, “quirky” questions, and “quote-based” questions. Here is an example of each of these question types, with expert responses for each.
Sample MMI Interview Scenario Question with Expert Response
Here's a video with guidance in thinking through MMI ethical dilemma scenarios:
Sample MMI Interview Policy Question with Expert Response
Sample Quirky MMI Interview Question and Expert Response
Sample MMI Interview Quote Prompt and Expert Response
MMI Interview Prep: Conclusion
Facing the MMI interview can be intimidating, but understanding why the MMI was created, what evaluators are looking for, and what constitutes a strong answer helps make the task more manageable. Remember, they are looking to see if you are a mature, reflective, ethical person who is well-suited to the profession. They want to understand who you are at your core, whether you've looked into the key qualities of those in the field, and how you respond to ethically-challenging situations. Reflect on who you are, what you value, and the kind of person you want to be as a practicing professional. Review and look at the answers given by experts, and then consider your own position. When it's time to enter the MMI interview room, take a deep breath, open the door, and show them the thoughtful, empathetic, interesting aspiring professional you are!
To your success,
Your friends at BeMo