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

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The Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) is designed to assess communication skills, specifically verbal and nonverbal skills that cannot be measured by standardized exams or transcripts.

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What is a Multiple Mini Interview or MMI?

The Multiple Mini Interview (MMI), developed by McMaster University, is an interview format that consists of a series of 6-10 interview stations, each focused on a different question or scenario. The MMI is designed to measure competencies like oral communication, social and non-verbal skills, and teamwork that are important indicators of how an applicant will interact with patients and colleagues as a physician. In addition to admissions officers, interviewers may include community members, professors, and physicians practicing in the local area.

“An MMI feels less like an interrogation and more like a series of short networking sessions where you get the chance to show your true self,” says Daniel Macias, a second-year medical student at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix. “It is not uncommon for an MMI to simply become an interesting conversation between you and the interviewer.” In addition, he adds, “the best thing about MMIs is that even if you feel like you did bad in one interview, you can take a breather and start a new interview fresh and ready to go. My best advice is to just be yourself, and trust that giving your true opinions and responses will always be better than giving a cookie cutter answer.” 

Why do some admissions committees use 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 several opportunities to showcase their skills throughout the interview, unlike a traditional one-on-one interview. “We appreciate the process is grounded in theory, supported through research, and has continually allowed us to support our goal of having true community involvement in our admission decisions,” says Glen T. Fogerty, PhD, Associate Dean of Admissions & Student Services at the University of Arizona College of Medicine- Phoenix. An MMI-style interview can also give applicants additional opportunities to assess if a medical school is right for them, as they meet many members of that medical school’s community.

Daniel Macias says, “
In comparison to traditional interviews, the MMI provides a more robust opportunity to gauge your compatibility with a medical school and its faculty, even though you have a much shorter period of time with individual committee members. Schools will tailor their MMI questions to address important aspects related to their mission statements and goals. As a result, I left some MMIs feeling like I had more in common with a school than I originally thought. Similarly, I left other MMIs questioning if I really wanted to attend a particular school or not. The MMI let me understand what an institution stands for and what it wants from its students. Although the gauntlet of MMIs left me feeling exhausted, I finished the interview period feeling confident I made a more impactful impression and more certain about my feelings for each school.”

What is the format? How long does it take?

Typically, interviews are 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 is a showcase of attributes that align with our institution’s mission. After the MMI, students have shared with us they felt their ‘fit’ was best aligned with our school of medicine as a result of their interview experience. We choose questions, for example, that assess empathy. The characteristics we discuss with students during the MMI are the foundations of our curriculum. By the end of the MMI process, students respond to a diverse range of topics and leave behind different reflections of themselves,” says Christina Cormier, MS, Director of Admission and Outreach at Anne Burnett Marion School of Medicine at Texas Christian University.

Many medical schools are now conducting MMIs virtually. “If you participate in a virtual interview process, make sure you cover the basics,” says Glen Fogerty. “For example, ensure you have a stable connection, find a quiet area to conduct your interview, use a professional background, test how you will be seen online, and record yourself practicing a few questions to see how you come across. These few extra steps can make a significant difference during the real interview,” Glen adds.
For the most updated information on each school’s interview format, you can refer to the Medical School Admission Requirements™ (MSAR®) Interview Policies Report.

What kind of topics are covered in the MMI?

As with any interview, the MMI is designed to evaluate verbal and non-verbal communication skills as well as provide additional information that is helpful in gauging a student’s readiness for medicine.

Glen T. Fogerty, PhD, adds, “Topics covered are wide-ranging and individualized toward each medical school’s end goal. Some schools seek out critical thinking skills, some ask about current events, others put an emphasis on role playing, and some may just open it up and see where the conversation goes. No matter the topic or the conversation, all medical schools are seeking strong cultural fits so do your homework before walking in that door!” 

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 demonstrate their interpersonal and critical thinking skills. The best way to prepare is to practice expressing yourself articulately and logically in a timed environment.

I prepared for my MMI sessions the same way I prepared for one-on one interviews. I reviewed each program website and made note of aspects of the curriculum, mission statement or themes that really resonated with me,” says Shannon Alsobrooks, a second-year medical student at the University of Arizona College of Medicine – Phoenix. She continues, “Then during the MMI, I would find ways to work those aspects into my discussion with the interviewer. I also reflected on my personal experiences and motivations, so that when applicable, I could loop those into the conversation as well.”

Daniel Macias says, “The best way to prepare is to look up and practice answering old MMI questions from various medical schools; bonus points if they are from the schools you will interview at. The point of this is not to have a rehearsed answer ready to go, but to practice thinking about a challenging concept and responding in a thoughtful, organized way.” Daniel adds, “Find someone you can practice answering questions with and ask them for feedback; they will be able to tell you if you sound awkward and will point out where you can improve. Finally, remember that others can tell when you believe what you are saying. Giving a passionate response that shows what you believe will leave a more memorable impact.”

If during the MMI you encounter a particularly challenging question that you are not sure how to respond to, you can start by sharing your thought process with the interviewer. This will give you time to collect your thoughts. Also, “oftentimes interviewers are more interested in the way you think about a prompt than the actual final answer you give,” says Daniel Macias.

Common virtual MMI interview stations/topics:

  • Traditional one-on-one interviews with various admissions officers or faculty
  • An ethical scenario station involving questions about social and policy implications.

In-person MMI interviews may also include the following interview stations/topics:

  • A station focused on scenarios involving interactions with an actor or a medical school’s standardized patient.
  • An essay writing station; this station may take longer than the others.
  • A teamwork station where candidates must work together to complete a task.
  • A “rest” station to help students catch their breath and relax between stations.

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