INTERVIEW
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How to Ace an MMI Interview

Published on
May 13, 2024
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The MMI interview is a necessary hurdle in the application process for many GEMSAS medical schools. As is too often the case in medicine, MMI is an acronym - it stands for ‘Multiple Mini Interview.’ The MMI interview format was developed in 2001 at McMaster Medical School in Ontario, Canada. The purpose of the novel MMI format is twofold. Firstly, traditional interviews are poor predictors of academic performance in medical school, and the MMI was developed to address this concern.

In the past, hospitals found that many medical students fell short when it came to interpersonal skills, moral judgment, and professionalism, as these qualities are seldom tested in standard panel interviews. In the subsequent years, following international MMI adoption, it scientifically demonstrated that such an interview format is an excellent predictor of the aforementioned qualities. This is important because taking into account and targeting these key qualities is the secret to MMI interview success.

In this article, we will broadly discuss the nature of an MMI medical interview, such that you encounter no surprises when you are invited to participate in this selection process.

What Are MMI Interviews Like?

As the name suggests, the MMI medical interview consists of short, focused interview stations. Each of the MMI questions is asked in a separate room by a separate examiner. Most GEMSAS medical schools that opt for the MMI format hold the interviews in a long corridor, with many rooms on either side. Groups of hopeful medical candidates are invited to participate in an interview session. This means, if there are eight MMI stations, eight candidates will be invited to a particular MMI session and will simultaneously rotate through the series of question stations. Sometimes, to accommodate larger groups in a single session, an MMI medical interview will include a ‘rest’ station within this rotation.

A candidate does not enter an interview room during a rest station but remains in the corridor while the remaining candidates are interviewed. The interview stations themselves are generally small rooms with a single interviewer. Each MMI station consists of questions associated with a single theme or prompt. For example, one of many possible MMI questions you may encounter is:

 “What is your opinion of the major health challenges facing Australia today?”

Depending on the specificities of your medical MMI, there may be a prompt on the doorway into the interview room that informs you that the station will discuss ‘Healthcare Policy.’ Alternatively, there may be no information attached to the interview doorway, and the interviewer may question you instantly as you enter the interview desk room. Regardless of formatting, the overarching MMI structure is consistent. There are main prompts and subsequent questions that require you to elaborate on the various details associated with the station's theme.

Examples of follow-up questions associated with the aforementioned prompt include:

“If you had $150,000 to spend addressing a major health issue of your choice, how would you invest this money and why?”

“What is the physician's role in addressing one of these major health challenges?”

How Long Are MMI Interviews?

The total number of stations varies between GEMSAS medical schools and the time allocated to each station. The key point to remember for medical school MMI prep is that timing your responses is the most important aspect of the interview. MMI stations are run strictly to time. This means a central invigilator is responsible for informing the candidates when they enter each interview room and when the respective interview station has concluded. The assessor allocated to each station has no capacity to award you extra time. Once the bell signifying the ‘end’ of a particular station time allocation has rung, no further marks will be awarded. 

In terms of the specifics of the MMI timing. The duration of individual stations ranges between 5 to 12 minutes. However, the important note here is that they are short. You have roughly 1 - 2 minutes to answer each of the prompts/questions. Therefore it is imperative to MMI performance that you answer with precision. There is no time for ‘fluff’ to pad out your response.

It would help if you were direct and to the point. There are generally between 5 and 12 stations in a medical MMI. The general rule is that the greater the number of stations, the shorter each station lasts. Ultimately, you should expect the total runtime of your multiple-mini interview to take just over an hour. This, of course, excludes the various delays which are inevitably encountered during such complex admission tests. 

Are MMI Interviews Hard?

The major difference between an MMI and the GAMSAT/GPA is that they require a personal touch. The MMI medical interview is awarded to those that have already demonstrated academic excellence - the test here is to see whether you can engage in the ‘art’ rather than the science of medicine. In straightforward terms, whether you can engage with staff and patients and dissect the complex ethical dilemmas that are regularly encountered in the hospital. The interview is much more than simply formulaic regurgitation of memorized content - it requires the candidate to act personably and communicate engagingly.

This is precisely why students with leadership, public speaking, or even theatre backgrounds perform exceedingly well in MMI interviews. 

Having said this, MMI medical interviews are not difficult to prepare with sufficient practice and professional guidance. Unlike the GAMSAT, the breadth of content is very limited. While you cannot and should never aim to memorize your responses to interview questions in advance, it helps to have a system for addressing each station type. This can include key phrases, as well as formats, that guide you in dissecting scenarios.

In other words, always have a plan for each station type - no matter whether it is an acting station, an ethics station, or a detech station. It also helps greatly to know your own values. Questions that require you to explore your motivations for medicine are often poorly addressed by candidates who attempt to gain the greatest number of marks rather than answering honestly. Understand who you are, and respond as pragmatically as you possibly can in any given situation.

If you are interested in more detailed medical school MMI interview prep, you should read our articles exploring specific station types. It would also be helpful to read the article outlining medical ethics and how they should guide your decision-making process. 

How To Prepare For An MMI Interview (Dentistry or Medicine)

Practice With a Partner

There is no substitute for a trained MMI medical interview partner. The best interview partners are medical staff with a profound understanding of the demands and expectations of the healthcare system. Most of the staff at Fraser’s Interview are senior medical students. Having performed exceeding well in many interviews, they can now help you craft your own responses. The secret recipe to acing an MMI interview is, as with most things, practice. So we strongly advise you to put together a study group and talk through as many possible MMI questions as you can get your hands on.

Practice With a Tutor

Apart from Fraser's tutors and your peers, parents are also a great resource. While most candidates do not have family members with experience in MMI medical interviews, it is important to remember that many MMI assessors are community members. Furthermore, your parents are likely adults who have completed many professional job interviews over their career, and many of the acquired skills are certainly transferable to the MMI. As such, make sure you present MMI practice questions to your relatives to obtain feedback. Having said this, you should consider this feedback selectively, considering carefully which aspects are relevant to medical professionalism and reviewing this with your peers and tutors. 

Simulate Your Uni MMI

Preparing for a medical MMI interview is a two-part process. MMI interview questions should be utilized first as discussion points. Only once you have a clear understanding of what you would like to communicate in response to a given scenario should you attempt to practice under timed conditions. Certainly, towards the end of the preparation cycle, you should aim to complete mock MMI questions with which you are unfamiliar.

However, just as had been the case with the GAMSAT exam, you should aim to slowly dissect and understand questions before adding the pressure of time conditions. Another tip is that you should always make sure to return to questions that you have previously practised. Present these in front of a mirror or a recording webcam so that you can constantly review and improve on your past performance.

How Are MMI Interviews Scored? 

Unlike traditional interviews, MMI medical interviews are designed to eliminate interviewer bias as much as possible. MMI answers are scored on a standardized rubric, with specific points awarded for predetermined criteria.

While the interviewer does have some freedom to marginally elevate or depress any given score based on overall candidate impression, this is unlikely to be a significant factor in determining your medical admission. Having said this, you should still certainly uphold the highest possible standards of professionalism. To ensure that everything on the day of your MMI runs smoothly, read Fraser's Interview article, which outlines the appropriate dress code for medical interviews.

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