Students often ask us, “how long does it take to prepare for the multiple mini interview?, or how long should I spend preparing for the multiple mini interview?” The short answer? As long as it takes to ensure your success, but how long does that take? Well, that depends on a lot of factors that I'll discuss in this blog. Ultimately, when you're finished reading, you will have a better understanding of the MMI and will be able to determine the most effective way to prepare for the multiple mini interview including how much time you should set aside to do so.
You will learn:
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Let's start with the basics, in order to understand how long it takes to prepare for the MMI interview, you need to first learn about the MMI. The MMI stands for multiple mini interview and is an interview format where interviewees rotate between 6-10 stations and partake in short, timed, 4-8 minute interviews. Once the time runs out at a station, you are forced to stop your discussion and move to the next station. Each station is comprised of a prompt placed outside of the interview room. Students are given two minutes to read this prompt, gather their thoughts, and prepare their arguments or discussion. Students must then enter the room and are required to either answer, address, participate in, or discuss the prompt, depending on what is required. Most schools may also provide the prompt inside the room so students are not expected to memorize it and can refer to it, but in some cases, this is not provided. Be sure you contact the school you are interviewing at to find out how they place the prompt, and if you can't determine this information, you'll need to practice for both scenarios. While there are 23 different types of MMI questions, in another blog, we discuss 7 different types of MMI questions you need to know.
Although it was initially created by McMaster University as part of a research project to select humane, competent, future doctors, in addition to medicine, it has now been adopted by a wide variety of professional programs such as veterinary medicine, pharmacy, dentistry and nursing across the United States, Canada, UK, Australia, Europe and Hong Kong. Its creators claim that this interview format is better however, studies have indicated otherwise. Additionally, some studies have indicated that the MMI causes bias.
Students often wonder what the evaluators are like and what they can expect from them during the MMI. Evaluators come in different forms, they can be professors, practicing professional, students or any other individual and do not necessarily have a background in your anticipated field of study. Once inside the interview room, evaluators may directly ask questions to the interviewee, or they simply may observe how a student interacts with others, or how they interact with an actor. Be sure to review our blog to learn how to answer multiple mini interview follow up questions as you will likely be asked questions from the evaluator. While interviewees will rotate across stations, an evaluator often remains at their station in order to assess candidates relatively. As the performance from an individual can vary across stations, this allows a more comprehensive evaluation process. For example, even if a student performs poorly at one station, they have the opportunity to recover with an excellent performance at another. Each evaluator at each station is unique with no past knowledge of a student's performance prior to arriving at their station.
Check out our video below to find out how the MMI is scored:
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Despite what some students may think, while there are no right or wrong answers to questions during the MMI, there are, however, strong and weak answers. Interviewees will be scored via a Likert scale from 1-10, where 1 is designated as unsuitable, and 10 is considered outstanding. Performance is relative to the pool of all applicants that are being rated. Each station will contain a different evaluator, allowing students to receive an average overall score, as opposed to a single score from a single individual or group of individuals during a traditional, conversational or panel interview. Contrary to popular belief, students will not be judged on their specific knowledge of any profession. Instead, the MMI requires students to apply their problem-solving skills in a social context and is therefore judged according to three key components. Communication skills, strength of the argument expressed, and the applicant's suitability for the specific profession.
Evaluators will be assessing how well students can communicate their thoughts in general and how well they communicate and interact with others during collaboration and acting stations. Have you first listened to others and identified the problem? Are you working to make a decision together or to accomplish a task with others? Were you too busy talking over everyone and trying to get your point across? Communication is essential during the MMI because it is essential in whichever profession you're striving for. You have to demonstrate your ability to listen, show empathy and compassion - all while working to solve a problem once all factors have been considered. Other less obvious communication skills such as tone, pace, body language, introduction, etc. will also be taken into account.
Strength of the argument expressed
To determine whether or not the argument a student presents is strong, interviewers will be noting if students identified the problem, considered the problem from multiple perspectives, including all groups that will be affected by your decision, and finally, if your solution is strong and fair, accounting for any ethical, moral and professional obligations. Scenario type questions are a great way to assess this evaluation category.
Suitability for the profession
Suitability for the profession can be assessed through personal type questions such as “why medicine?”, “tell me about yourself” , and “why do you want to be a doctor?” The evaluators want to learn about an interviewee's experiences that demonstrate qualities such as leadership, teamwork and communication.They'll also be looking for evidence to establish a student's true passions and motivations for continuing their specific career choice.
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While a small percentage of students decide to “wing” the MMI, a large proportion would not, could not, and do not. Those that do wing it usually ends up disappointed with a rejection letter and a huge waste of their time, money, and energy. Did you prepare for any standardized test? Did you study for your exams at school? Did you prepare for a presentation? So, should you be preparing for the MMI? Absolutely. Check out our blog to get more tips on how to prepare for your med school interview. It's important to remember that at each station, you are scored relative to the performance of others. Just because you may think you did a good job at each station, if the other candidates were prepared and therefore did an excellent job, you will score poorly in comparison. Students who do not prepare underestimate the stress involved with the MMI. Let's not forget that it is a fast-paced, timed interview. If your stress levels are through the roof, it will be very difficult to come across directly and effectively. Nervousness often causes fidgeting, stammering, loss of thought, and talking in circles. All of these factors will negatively impact your score because it prevents you from sharing your thoughts and ideas in a clear, easy to understand, well thought out manner.
Other than stress, students who don't prepare have a hard time mastering the pacing required for their responses. As the stations are strictly timed, if you talk for too long and exceed the maximum allowed time, you will be cut off and will have to move to the next station without having had the chance to fully express or finish what you were trying to say. In fact, in our MMI prep programs, we spend a lot of time making sure our students can deliver a coherent response concisely. The bottom line is, it will be very evident to the interviewers if you did not prepare. They will identify discussions that are not well communicated, those that are missing evidence, in-depth consideration, and knowledge, and those that do not highlight the desired skills necessary to convey candidate suitability. Practice and preparation are required in order to gain a skill, in this case, being able to ace ANY MMI questions, and have that skill stick, develop and improve. It is, however, important to note that not all practice is good practice so it's important to have a strategy that will allow you to answer or discuss ANY prompt you may receive.
Watch our video for a quick recap:
You should prepare effectively and efficiently until you have mastered the ability to answer or discuss ANY prompt concisely. The timing is different for everyone. Most of our successful students take anywhere between 8 to 10 weeks to prepare for the MMI. In fact, on average our students improve their MMI scores by 27% after 8-10 weeks of practice. Some require more time, some require less time. Since the MMI measures your behaviors, some may have developed the specific behaviors naturally through their life experiences, and some may not. The best way to find out is to start preparing well in advance so that you can figure out how much preparation you need. How do you do that? Participate in a realistic mock interview and get expert feedback and scoring. If you score high, then great. If not, you must practice until your score has improved significantly. There's no magic formula or specific amount of time. The only "secret" ingredient is advance preparation.
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To your success,
Your friends at BeMo