What it’s Like to Participate in Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs)

The MMI is designed to assess communication skills, specifically verbal and nonverbal skills that cannot be measured by standardized exams or transcripts. The MMI typically consists of six to 10 very short interviews that revolve around a specific scenario.

What is a Multiple Mini Interview or MMI?

The Multiple Mini Interview (MMI), developed by McMaster University, is an interview format that gauges an applicant’s potential to successfully interact with patients and colleagues. The MMI is designed to measure communication skills, specifically verbal and nonverbal skills that cannot be measured using standardized written exams or by reviewing coursework transcripts. The MMI typically consists of six to 10 very short interviews that revolve around a specific scenario.

Why are admissions committees moving towards this format?

Based on the research, schools using the MMI format believe it produces a more reliable assessment of a candidate and limits interview biases due to the number of interactions. Because students interact with multiple interviewers in multiple assessments over the course of the MMI, opinions of a single interviewer are not over-emphasized. The MMI allows applicants multiple opportunities to showcase their skills throughout the interview, unlike the traditional one-on-one interview.

What is the format? How long does it take?

Typically, a series of six to 10 “mini” interviews is conducted over a period of nearly two hours. Each mini interview includes a two-minute prep period before engaging in a conversation that lasts between five to eight minutes.

“The MMI benefits students in many ways that perhaps other formats do not. Not only does the student know the topic that will be discussed, but also has time to prepare a response before walking into the room, unlike other formats wherein questions can be asked on the spot from any subject area. Additionally, the student has the unique opportunity to make multiple first-time impressions. If one question is tough and the student does not feel he/she performed well, the next room is a new chance to do better without any previous bias,“ says Tara K. Cunningham, Ed.D., assistant dean of admissions and recruitment at the University of Arizona (UA) College of Medicine – Phoenix.

An applicant who completed the MMI at the College of Medicine echoed Dr. Cunningham’s belief saying, “I can definitely see the benefit of this format, as I feel some of my stations went very well and others did not, and it was nice to get a fresh start at each station.”

What kind of topics are covered in the MMI?

As with any interview, the MMI is designed to assess communication skills as well as provide additional information that is helpful in assessing a student’s readiness for medicine.

According to Stephen Manual, Ph.D., assistant dean of admissions at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, “The MMI scenarios also are developed to assess a candidate’s skill and proficiency in areas such as problem solving, logical thinking, interpersonal skills, and ethical judgment. For example, one scenario may ask a candidate to describe what they would do if they learned that a physician was giving patients placebos instead of actual medications. There are also scenarios that involve teamwork and assess the ability to work with a partner to solve a problem. Communication skills also can be assessed through scenarios where actors pose as patients.”

An applicant at the UA College of Medicine – Phoenix said, “I felt like the MMI allowed me to act for the first time in an interview as a genuine person. Not only does this format allow for such a wide range of skills to be assessed (communication, problem solving, etc.), it does it in such a way to make the entire process informal enough to personally interact with the interviewers. It gave me a chance to work with other applicants to solve ridiculous tasks. I truly enjoyed myself because I know that I was able to give every interviewer a glimpse of my personality as to the type of doctor I will be.”

What is the best way to prepare for the MMI?

The MMI does not test specific knowledge. The format is designed to allow candidates to showcase their communication, interpersonal, and critical thinking skills. The best way to prepare is to practice expressing yourself articulately and logically in a timed environment.

According to an applicant who completed the MMI during the 2013 admissions season at UA College of Medicine, “I felt like the MMI allowed the interviewers to get responses that couldn’t be so easily prepared for in advance, thus giving them a very realistic picture of the applicant and enabling them to make better decisions. I felt prepared to show who I am in everyday life!”

Possible interview scenarios:

  • Scenarios involving interactions with an actor
  • An essay writing station; this station may be take longer than the others
  •  A standard interview station
  • A teamwork station where candidates must work together to complete a task
  • An ethical scenario involving questions about social and policy implications
  • A “rest” station to help students catch their breath and relax

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