You are in the middle of your multiple mini interview, you've just finished a discussion at a station and there are still four minutes left on the clock. You feel confident in your answer and are happy to wait in silence when the evaluator asks you a question relating to the prompt. Wait a minute, this wasn't posted outside of the door, you haven't had any time to prepare and now the evaluator is looking at you expectantly. What do you do?
No, this isn't a MMI practice question, it's a real situation that you'll likely encounter during your interview. So in today's blog, I'll tell you how to answer multiple mini interview follow up questions, discuss their purpose, give you some tips, and we'll even go over an entire MMI sample question with example follow up questions and answers. When you're finished reading this blog, you'll feel calm and confident to tackle any multiple mini interview follow up question you may encounter.
Here's what you'll learn:
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MMI stands for multiple mini interview and is an interview format designed to assess a candidate's soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, and social skills. Created by McMaster University, this standardized test is commonly used around the world as a screening tool by medical, dental, pharmacy and veterinary schools, despite some studies showing that it, along with other popular situational judgment tests, cause bias.
Test-takers rotate between 6-10 different stations that are each focussed around a specific question or scenario which is placed, in the form of a prompt, outside of an interview room. Interviewees have 2 minutes to read through the prompt and prepare their thoughts before they enter the room and begin their discussion. Not all stations are completed alone, students will also encounter MMI collaboration stations and MMI acting stations where they will interact with other students or with an actor. Each station is timed, forcing the interviewee to respond or discuss a prompt within 5-8 minutes, depending on the school. The ring of a bell signals the end of the allowable time, and interviewees must immediately stop their discussion and move to the next station. While the exact test time varies slightly, the MMI takes roughly 1-2 hours to complete. Normally, each station contains a different evaluator, allowing for test-takers to make many different first impressions. Even if a student scores poorly on one station, it's still possible to do well overall as the next evaluator will be new, having no past knowledge of past station performances. Review our blog for some multiple mini interview sample questions and answers.
Check out our video to learn the different type of MMI questions to expect:
Multiple mini interview follow up questions are exactly what they sound like, they're questions that are asked by an evaluator at the end of an interviewee's discussion about a particular prompt. During the MMI, interviewees will be given 5-8 minutes, depending on the school, to discuss or answer a prompt. A common mistake that students run into is talking for too long. They walk into the room and note that they've been given 8 minutes to discuss a specific topic, so they work hard to fill the entire time, even if that means rambling on, changing a potentially good answer to a poor one. It's important to note that just because you are given 8 minutes, that does not mean that you have to or should talk for the entire time. Quality is better than quantity here and because of that, a short, concise, well thought out answer will always beat a long, off-topic, unfocused one. Most importantly, giving a strong, concise answer will allow time at the end for follow up questions, which isn't something to be afraid of. In fact, follow up questions can be extremely helpful to better focus your answer, clarify and explore different options. While you are very likely to encounter follow up questions during your MMI, not all stations will ask these questions. Keep reading below for a strategy to answering MMI follow up questions along with specific example questions and answers.
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As previously mentioned, multiple mini interview follow up questions can be extremely beneficial to both interviewees and evaluators. With that said, students are often confused as to why they were asked any question at all and some feel that if they were asked a question, they must have done something wrong. This is a common misconception. Whether or not you receive a follow-up question has nothing to do with the strength of your initial answer. While it may feel unnerving to be asked a question at the end of your discussion, understanding why there are follow up questions is important when determining the best way to answer them. Follow up questions are utilized for a variety of reasons that we'll discuss below:
This type of follow up question is designed to evaluate consistency. Essentially, the interviewer wants to know, if they change the question slightly, will your argument or discussion remain the same, or will you change your position? Consistency type follow up questions often revolve around the pressing issue of the scenario.
If the prompt was asking what you would do if a group member wanted you to cheat on an assignment, the follow up question could ask “what if this was your friend asking you to cheat on the assignment, what would you say?”
Shift perspective questions are used in order to change the role of the student in a scenario. This is to assess how the student can approach the scenario if it's from a different perspective.
If the prompt asked how you would handle a situation where an employee at your work with didn't want to work with you, to change perspectives they could ask “what if you were the supervisor, what would you say to your employee?”
Some MMI follow up questions are designed to encourage the interviewee to explore the topic or explore the discussion further. These type of questions often provide another piece of information that wasn't given in the initial prompt. They can make a current scenario more difficult by adding an obstacle to further assess a student's conflict resolution skills. Alternatively, they could ask a thought-provoking question to further dive into a discussion and have the interviewee explain a position more in-depth.
If the initial prompt asked what you would do if you found out your colleague forgot to include an essential result in a scientific report, a follow-up question could ask “What if you discovered that your colleague was intentionally withholding information from your manager regarding the project?”
Personal follow up questions are a way for the evaluator to learn about a student's unique experience with the topic while assessing if they can communicate effectively and provide evidence to support their experiences.
If the initial prompt asked what you would do if you heard yelling and saw your neighbor run out of their apartment crying, a follow-up question might ask “Can you tell me about a time where you had to help a stranger in need?”
Think on your feet
Students often struggle with the think on your feet follow up question because this type of question is designed to be unexpected. These questions often change the topic completely by asking a personal or policy type question to allow test evaluators to observe what your approach will be and how you'll be able to answer a question that you didn't see coming.
If the prompt is a scenario (cheating classmate) and once you finish, the interviewer asks"OK, so why do you want to pursue a career medicine?" or "So what do you think about the legalization of marijuana?"
Check out our video for some top tips for acing the MMI:
You've just finished writing your university organic chemistry exam and as you get up to hand in your paper, you see a student beside you referring to a piece of paper filled with written information that they are trying to hide in their lap. What do you do?
In this situation, I understand that I've finished my exam and as I walk past, I notice a student hiding and referring to a piece of paper with written information.
While I'm unsure of what is going on with this student, I'm faced with an ethical dilemma of whether or not I should report the student if I determine they are cheating. It's important for me to maintain academic integrity and honesty, as well as fairness to every student. Firstly, I would need to gather more information by determining whether or not this particular exam is open or closed book. If it's an open book exam, the student could simply be referring to notes that they are allowed to refer to, and perhaps they want to hide the notes in their lap because they fear that other students around them may try to use their notes. When I hand in my test, I could ask the professor or test evaluator if the exam is open book or not and if students are allowed to bring in notes. In some situations, an exam may not be open book, but students may be allowed to bring in one piece of paper, such as a formula sheet, or a document with their own notes. If the professor informs me that the exam is not open-book and that having any notes is strictly prohibited, I would still not want to jump to conclusions without being able to collect more information from the student. Perhaps the student has obtained permission to bring in a piece a paper for accessibility reasons or even for a medical condition. Although, if there is no justifiable reason for bringing in a piece a paper with notes on it, I would have to explore the possibility that the student was using the paper to cheat on the test.
Exams are very stressful, especially if you've had a hard time with the subject matter or didn't have enough time to prepare. Perhaps the student wasn't able to study long enough for the test or maybe they struggled to grasp the subject material. There could also be external issues that are affecting the student, maybe there are issues at home that prevented them from preparing appropriately. The student could be struggling with mental health issues such as depression or substance abuse that are interfering with their ability to study or prepare. It's possible that the student has never cheated before and has been under intense stress or pressure which led them to their decision. I know that reporting the student would get them into trouble and would have serious consequences which could result in them failing the class, being expelled from university or potentially being permanently banned from all universities. These are life-altering consequences I would have to consider. On the other hand, if I don't report the student, I'm essentially participating in cheating and would not fulfill my moral duty to stop or report something that is wrong, dishonest, and against the school's code of conduct. Without consequence, the student may become a dishonest individual in their future career; lacking professional skills and trustworthy behaviors which could negatively impact their co-workers, clients or patients. While I feel for the student's potential struggles, I have a moral and professional responsibility to report their behavior.
Upon handing in my exam papers, I would wait for the student outside of the exam to try and have a conversation with them and give them the opportunity to explain what I observed. I would tell them what I saw and ask them if they obtained permission to bring paperwork into the exam or if the document was used to help them on the test without permission. If they did not have permission, I would show them compassion and demonstrate understanding by telling them that I'm not aware of their situation, but maybe they are under a lot of stress and pressure which led them to bring in notes with them. I would inform them of the consequences of academic dishonesty and would tell them that their actions have to be reported to the professor. I would tell them I'd like to allow them the opportunity to tell the professor instead of me, and right their wrong themselves. I would tell them that perhaps the ramifications would be lessened if they come forward and are honest now, as opposed to it coming from another student. I would hope that through conversation, I could convince them to tell the professor. If however, the student refused to inform the professor, while I would feel bad for the student, I would have no choice but to tell the professor immediately.
What if the student told you their Mom just passed away and they were too upset to study, what would you say?
I would offer my condolences by telling the student I was so sorry for their loss. I would want them to understand that I could relate to their difficult time by telling them that I understand that they were unable to study and if I were in their situation, I wouldn't have been able to study either. I couldn't imagine what the student must be going through, and trying to study for an exam in the middle of a devastating time would be near impossible. If the student had contacted the professor before the exam, they may have been able to write the exam at a later date, or potentially the professor could have made other arrangements to accommodate their loss. Under such grief, the student may not have been able to consider the best option which unfortunately resulted in them making a poor decision. I would still tell them that it was important for them to tell the professor themselves and would try to convince them that their situation would likely be taken into consideration when consequences were being determined. As I mentioned before, while I empathize with the student's particular struggle, if they refuse to tell the professor, I would still have to report their behavior myself.
What if you tell the professor and they say “that student has had a hard year, let's just forget about it.” What would you do?
I would first need to gather more information from the professor to try and find out what the professor meant by saying forget about it. The professor may not be concerned with what I said because perhaps they had already given the student permission to bring in paperwork. The professor may be aware of a certain situation affecting the student and may not feel it is appropriate to share this information with me to protect the student's privacy. If on the other hand, the professor did not give the student permission to bring in paperwork, perhaps they feel bad for the student and don't want to report them. If that was the case, I would explain to the professor that I too feel sorry for the student and I understand why they are considering not reporting the behavior. However, I would try to explain to the professor that it would be against the school's code of conduct to not report cheating and would also be unfair to the other students who worked hard preparing and didn't bring in paperwork to help them. I would hope that through discussion, the professor would change their mind and decide to report the student. If I couldn't convince the professor to change their mind, I would have to speak to the appropriate authority above the professor, such as the dean or the head of the department to report the situation.
1. Leave time at the end.
You know the saying “if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all?” Well, the same goes for the MMI, but in this case, if you don't have anything worthwhile to say, stop while you're ahead! How can an interviewer ask you a follow-up question if your discussion takes the entire 8 minutes? Now, that's not to say that there is no situation where it's acceptable to talk for the entire time. If you have a really well thought out answer that focusses on different perspectives and requires most of the time to explain, this is OK, but keep in mind that in general, you should practice answering most questions in less time which ensures your argument stays strong and you don't get off-topic. Acting stations are another example of a station which will likely take the entire time. Follow up questions are an opportunity to maintain or improve a strong performance. It can even help you improve a poor performance. A follow up question can help you explore your discussion further or think about it differently, so if you were struggling to expand your initial discussion, this can be very helpful. Keep in mind that even if you leave time at the end, the interviewer may not necessarily have any follow up questions for you. This is OK too, take the time to thank the interviewer, relax, and clear your mind so you're prepared for the next station. Check out our blog for some great MMI prep tips to help you succeed.
2. Don't panic.
Don't let being asked a question throw you off, even though it can seem scary being asked something you're not expecting. Take a moment, take a deep breath and then begin. It's OK to spend a few moments thinking about how to structure your answer, it's better to do that than to talk incoherently as this can hurt your initial response. Think of a follow up question as a way to build rapport with the interviewer, to show them that your answers remain consistent or that you can adapt to different or changing scenarios. Most of all, remember that with a traditional interview, you also don't know the questions you'll be given and you definitely are not given two minutes to gather your thoughts. Just relax and know that you've got this!
3. Follow the same approach.
Some students are intimidated by follow up questions and feel that they don't know how to answer them. It's important to realize that a follow-up question is very similar to an initial prompt, except that it comes afterward. You still have to follow the same steps during your discussion. Once you've identified what type of question it is, and what the pressing issue is, you'll be able to follow the approach in our challenging types of MMI questions blog. Make sure you set aside enough time to prepare in advance for the MMI, check out our blog to find out how long it takes to prepare for the MMI. Here at BeMo, we have techniques and strategies that are proven to work to help you prepare for the MMI and improve your score by 27%.
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