If you're at a loss for how to prepare for your Multiple Mini Interview (MMI), you have come to the right place. MMI is notoriously difficult to get ready for and greatly affects medical school acceptance rates. You can increase your chances of success by implementing a few tactics I will cover in this blog. You will learn about MMI structure, MMI myths and facts, and get answers to any question you may have about the MMI!
Here’s What We’ll Cover:
The MMI is a situational judgment test comprised of 8-12 stations including 1 or 2 rest stations. It allows different interviewers to assess your reaction to different types of questions and scenarios that reflect real-life situations. Your interviewers may be practicing professionals, faculty members, senior students, administrators, and members of the public. Each station typically lasts 8 minutes and is structured in the following manner:
1. You have about 1 or 2 minutes to read a prompt and formulate your response before you enter the interview room.
2. Once the buzzer goes off you enter the interview room.
3. You will have 4 to 8 minutes to give your response to the interviewer.
4. A buzzer will sound, indicating that it is time to leave the room.
5. Move on to the next station.
It is important to remember that your answer should be clear and concise. So instead of focusing on using all the time that is given to you, try to articulate a well-rounded, quality answer in 4 minutes. Remember, a total of 8 minutes is given to you per station, which includes your introduction, summary of the prompt, and goodbye. You should aim to answer the original prompt in 4 minutes, leaving a couple of minutes for any follow-up questions the interviewer might have.
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How are your Assessed?
The interviewers are instructed to rate your performance relative to all the applicants they see. They will score your communication skills, strength of arguments displayed, and suitability for the profession on a scale from 1 (lowest) to 10 (highest). Other things that influence your score may be your problem-solving skills, ethical and moral values, professionalism, negotiation, cooperation, leadership, integrity, and time management. Although these categories are not included in the score sheet, they create a general impression of your personality and might influence your overall score.
Myth#1: “There are no right or wrong answers when answering interview questions.” This is actually stated on the admissions website at some schools. Although there are no right or wrong answers, when it comes to the various scenarios and questions you may encounter on your interview, there are HOWEVER appropriate and inappropriate answers that you can provide. If this was not the case, then a lot more individuals with fantastic GPA and aptitude scores would be admitted to professional schools. But, of course, we know that’s not the case.
Myth#2: “You can’t really prepare in advance for interviews because no one really knows what type of questions are going to be asked during your interview.” Well, if that were the case, then you wouldn’t be able to prepare for the MCAT, DAT, PCAT, etc. or any of your exams during your undergraduate years. Just like any other tests, there are a number of things you can do in order to prepare in advance.
So now let’s talk about some facts.
Fact#1: Preparing for professional school interviews is like riding a bike! Practice is key! Perhaps you have heard of the saying “practice makes perfect.” Well this is not true and it is not what we mean by practice. In actuality, practice makes permanent, and only PERFECT practice makes perfect. So, if you continue to practice the WRONG way, then you will permanently perform the task in the incorrect manner, no matter what that task may be. This leads us to our next fact!
Fact#2: The best way to practice is using realistic simulations. Just like preparing for the MCAT, for example, the interview requires you to perform numerous simulations in order to ensure you are absolutely prepared on your actual interview date.
Fact#3: MMI sample questions and simulations used for preparation purposes are ineffective and useless without proper professional feedback from an expert. Unless someone can identify your strengths and weakness and give you appropriate feedback on your performance, you will not be able to improve your performance. This is true whether you are an athlete, a student, or a medical candidate about to perform an interview. Professional guidance and feedback will be important in helping you formulate appropriate responses and make changes to your interview behavior.
Check out some sample MMI questions with expert answers and analysis:
Fact#4: Simply reading books, guides, blogs, or attending “interview crash courses” without performing realistic simulations and receiving expert feedback is an ineffective method to prepare for interviews. Again, going back to our example of riding a bike, it is impossible to learn how to ride a bike by reading a book about bikes or attending a seminar on how bikes work! You can certainly review MMI questions and answers, but internalizing strategies is impossible without expert feedback. Check out our MMI tips, sample questions and detailed answers to learn more about this interview format.
Fact#5: You MUST, and I repeat, you MUST have a strategy and a plan of action when encountering MMI Interview questions. Different types of multiple mini interview questions will demand different answer strategies. Of course, you cannot predict what scenarios or policies the interviewers will ask you to consider, or what kind of personal questions you might be asked. To know how to approach each question category, you must have specific strategies. Having answer strategies for each question type guarantees that when you read any given prompt you will identify the question type, structure your answer accordingly, keep your cool and walk into that room knowing exactly what you’re going to say.
Let’s move on to fact#6: Getting yourself familiarized with professional ethics and specifically, Medial, Dental, and Pharmacy ethics. Although the interview is designed to test qualities and characteristics that should have been developed within you over time, based on your life experiences, being aware of ideas important in professional ethics will certainly help.
Some excellent resources for medical candidates are the AAMC Core Competencies, the CanMEDS framework, MedlinePlus, and for other professional candidates it is worth while to review books such as the Textbook on Professional Ethics and Human Values, Meaningful Work: Rethinking Professional Ethics, Reason and Professional Ethics, and lastly Doing Right: A Practical Guide to Ethics for Medical Trainees and Physicians, by Philip C Hebert.
Fact#7: You must have a strategy to manage your stress. Be sure to read the FAQ section to learn some long- and short-term stress management tactics.
Fact#8: Interview skills take a long time to develop. Therefore, you must dedicate several weeks and sometimes even months to prepare for your MMI interview in advance. Also note that some medical schools provide a short notice of only a week or two in advance, which is insufficient time to fully prepare for your interview.
1. How can I prepare for the MMI?
The MMI format is not like any other interview structure. The best prep tactic is to use full-length mock MMIs and go over MMI questions. It’s best to practice with realistic simulations and get expert feedback. If you don’t get feedback from a medical school advisor, you will not know how to improve your interview taking strategies.
2. What kind of questions will I encounter during my MMI interview?
Most MMI questions will fall into the following categories:
Make sure to review our related blogs for details on each question type. Additionally, learn how to answer medical school policy interview questions and how to ace the MMI acting stations or scenarios. You can also review our blog on how to answer MMI interview follow up questions.
3. Do I really need to know the different question types?
Yes, there is really no way to prepare for all the possible questions that could come up in your interview. You need to know the different question types because you need to have a strategy that will allow you to approach any question that you will encounter. Having an answer strategy for every question type will allow you to formulate an effective answer no matter which prompt you receive.
4. Can I just read about the MMI online to get ready? Do I really need to practice with sample questions and simulations?
You must practice. Passive prep strategies will not work. It’s important to recreate the experience, so realistic simulations are key - they should be timed, replicate actual interview conditions and you should dress appropriately.
5. What kind of content should I review before my interview?
You should read up on some of the hottest topics in the field of medicine and healthcare. Familiarize yourself with current political, social, educational, and economic issues, as these can become the basis of policy questions.
6. Are there right and wrong answers for MMI questions?
Although it is common to hear that MMI questions have no right or wrong answers, it is not entirely true. There are appropriate and inappropriate answers that you can provide that have a great influence on your chances of acceptance. If this were not the case, there would be no value to MMI testing.
7. Are there stations where I will need to counsel a simulated patient or demonstrate my medical knowledge in any way?
No, the MMI is not designed to test your expertise in the medical field. You might be asked to recreate a scenario in which a patient is involved, but you will be tested on your professional skills like compassion, empathy, ethical and moral values, etc.
8. How can I prepare for the MMI if I do not know what scenarios or policies to expect?
The key is to identify what type of question you are being asked and being able to apply an answering strategy to each question type.
9. Should I use up all 8 minutes to answer a prompt? Wouldn’t it be better if my answer is longer?
No, length does not guarantee quality. 4 minutes should be plenty of time for you to present an appropriate answer in most cases. You should not talk for the entire 8 minutes that are provided to you. The interviewer may lose their interest if you speak for too long. Remember, within your designated time slot you must enter the room, greet the interviewer, respond to the prompt, leave time for follow-up questions and say goodbye. Your ability to articulate a quality answer in 4 minutes will not go unnoticed by the interviewer.
10. Do all programs include questions from these the six categories you listed? I heard that my school only uses acting questions in the MMI.
Although your program may have used strictly acting questions in their MMI last year, there are no guarantees that they will have the same system this year. It is best to be prepared for any possible type of question, so that you are not stressed encountering an unknown question type in your actual interview.
11. How should I manage stress?
Long-term Stress Management
1. Practice with mock interviews and expert feedback. Remember, to optimize your chances of success it is best to have a professional assess and tell you how you are doing in your preparation. A medical school advisor will help you tackle the most difficult questions and give you expert feedback on what you do well and what you can improve in your answers.
2. Take a tour of the school to which you have been invited to be at ease with your environment and talk to current students to provide you with insight into the school, the program, and the interview.
3. If the program has optional activities planned for the day before, or the day of your interview, take advantage of the opportunity to speak with staff, faculty, and students. Remember, as soon as you are on campus, you may be evaluated, indirectly or directly. Put your best foot forward.
4. Avoid dealing with stress by smoking, drinking, or bingeing on unhealthy food.
5. Do not withdraw from your friends and family. Take time to relax with them.
6. Do not forget to exercise and keep a healthy diet.
Short-term Stress Management
1. The day before your exam go to bed early and eat healthy meals. Do not stay up cramming for your interview.
2. Think positively as soon as you wake up.
3. Arrive at your interview destination at least 30 mins early.
4. Release neurotransmitters that pit you in a positive state of mind. For example, bite on a pencil or pen with your back molars for 3-5 minutes or sit back in a chair with your arms behind your head and feet up.
5. Activate your parasympathetic nervous system and decrease your sympathetic nervous system by doing breathing exercises with prolonged exhalations.
Remember, the interview begins as soon as you step into campus grounds. Make sure you’re in a good mood and looking excited to be there. Don’t forget to be polite and pleasant with everyone you meet. When you meet other applicants, make sure you demonstrate your people skills and spirit of comradery. Do not let other applicants make you feel nervous or question yourself.
Ideally, you should have from 8 to 10 weeks to prepare for the MMI.
Want a quick recap? Check out this video:
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To your success,
Your friends at BeMo