A Med School Applicant’s Guide to Multiple Mini Interviews
- Nov 06, 2023
- MCAT Blog, Med School Admissions
- Reviewed By: Liz Flagge
Let’s set the stage for your medical school application cycle. MCAT score? Check! Primaries? Check! CASPer and AAMC PREview assessments? Check and check! Secondaries? Check! Now that you’ve completed these essential tasks, you begin to hear back from medical schools. You receive your first interview invite – Congratulations! Then, your second, then third. You’re excited, but you notice the invite says that the interview will be MMI style.
You pause for a moment and think to yourself, “Did they mean MMA? Will I…need to fight someone in a ring?” Of course not!
Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs) is a type of medical school admissions interview that is much more interactive and engaging than a typical interview you might be used to. But don’t panic – we’re here to help!
In this article, we’ll dive into Multiple Mini Interviews, strategies on how to approach them, common questions MMI questions, and how to avoid pitfalls/mistakes.
What are Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs)?
A medical school Multiple Mini Interview consists of six to ten short, structured interview stations used to assess non-cognitive qualities including, but not limited to, cultural sensitivity, maturity, teamwork, empathy, reliability, and communication skills. Each station is focused on a different question or scenario.
MMIs, like other medical school admissions interviews, were traditionally held in person. However, after the pandemic, many schools adopted hybrid MMIs or even 100% virtual MMIs.
Why Do Medical Schools Use MMIs?
Although MMIs are definitely a departure from a standard 1:1 interview, according to the AAMC, medical schools believe it produces a more reliable assessment of a candidate and limits interview biases due to the multiple interactions. Because students interact with more interviewers in various assessments throughout the MMI, the opinions of a single interviewer are not over-emphasized and you get more opportunities to let your personality shine.
In addition to admissions officers, interviewers may include community members, professors, and physicians practicing in the local area. The diversity of interviewers is especially important because medical schools are trying to assess how an applicant will interact with patients and colleagues as a physician.
When I interviewed applicants during MMIs, I paid close attention to how they approached the responses, rather than solely focusing on what the responses were.
Each MMI assessment focuses on an applicant’s decision-making, critical thinking, and communication skills as they relate to healthcare and social issues. Interviewers are evaluating their thought process and ability to improvise. MMIs can provide schools with a more holistic review of their applicants by setting up scenarios to see if the responses align with their mission.
MMI questions are generally broken down into buckets such as:
- Non-cognitive Skills: Conscientiousness, Perseverance, Teamwork, etc.
- Attributes: Communication, Empathy, Ethics, Social Justice, etc.
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Structure of MMIs
The format of MMIs will vary depending on the medical school, but we’ll use NYU Grossman School of Medicine’s virtual MMI as an example.
Per NYU Grossman Office of Admissions (2023), there are a total of eight online interviews or eight “stations.” Two of these stations are “rest” stations. Before an interview rotation begins, applicants receive a scenario with an open-ended question and have roughly two minutes to prepare an answer. They then enter the virtual interview room, where they engage in a brief conversation with an interviewer (approximately five minutes).
This process will continue as applicants move from station to station until they reach the open station. That open-station is more like a traditional one-on-one interview and lasts 12 minutes.
Most medical schools have a similar approach to their MMIs. Expect to be in the interview for about two hours total, including a two-minute prep period before engaging in a conversation that lasts between five to eight minutes.
Preparing for MMIs
When it comes to medical school admissions interviews, one of the first reminders I give my students is that navigating the process comes down to comfort level and confidence. To secure any interview, reviewers have already learned a ton of information about you. They’ve dissected each portion of your application in a variety of different ways. You have made it to this point because they are interested in you! Your med school interview is your opportunity to take that interest to the next level and solidify that.
Do not let the interview structure stop you from sharing who you are and why you want to become a doctor.
MMIs are very similar to taking the CASPer and AAMC PREview assessments. They are situational and behavioral, not clinically or scientifically based. Interviewers will expect to see that you are honest and transparent in your approach.
Some of the MMI questions may be designed to come across as jarring to see if they throw you off of your game or take you out of your comfort zone. Others will be purposely long and drawn out, to see if you’re able to quickly process information or scenarios, break them down, and work through them.
Much like preparing for other medical school interviews, the best way to test your readiness is by practicing a variety of scenarios. Work your way through each area, then zero in on areas that tend to give you trouble.
For example, some applicants are strong in displaying empathy but stress when asked to lead a conversation with a patient addressing potential ethical dilemmas—in fact, you’ve probably seen this exact scenario play out on Grey’s Anatomy or any other medical tv show.
I conduct a series of virtual mock interviews with my medical school admissions consulting students where I post the MMI prompts on the screen, give them about a minute and a half to think through their approach before answering, and then I provide feedback after each answer.
You can also do a form of this yourself, working through scenarios and recording yourself answering them. You could also share information on how to properly assess MMIs with a friend and have them take notes on your responses.
Common MMI Questions and Scenarios
Here are a few common examples of MMI questions and scenarios. Pay close attention to the difference between a question that would generally be asked in more of a one-on-one interview setting versus what may be asked in an in-person interview station scenario. In parentheses are the subject areas the interviewer may be seeking from the response:
- Station 1 (Critical Thinking, Communication, Reflection): What are some transferable skills you think you need to work on? How do you anticipate working on them?
- Station 2 (Critical Thinking, Leadership, Communication Skills): Tell me about a time when you worked on an effective team.
- Station 3 (Empathy, Ethical Decision Making, Character Development): Your patient who is well known to you, presented in the Emergency Room with a life-threatening infection requiring hospitalization. She has many chronic diseases. The morning after her admission, she left the hospital against medical advice. You visit her at her home, where she lives alone. She has no family. Your discussion with her demonstrates she clearly understands the threat to her life if she refuses readmission. She explains that it is her fervent wish to avoid a prolonged, miserable death from any of her other health problems. Based on your assessment, you believe she is mentally competent. She is completely at peace with the life she has lived, and with her choice to refuse treatment. Explore the issues confronting the patient and the physician.
- Station 4 (Ethical Decision Making, Controversial Topics, Opinion, Character Development): A physician who gave up convincing patients to change lifestyle and sticks to prescribing pills. What are your thoughts on it?
- Station 5 (Ethics, Controversial Topics): What do you think is a big ethical issue facing people today?
It is always best to approach each prompt in a relaxed, open state of mind. Some prompts will be one quick sentence, while others will be at least a paragraph long. If the prompt is longer, or there are several questions embedded within, try to break them down to ensure you remember to address each part. When you begin your answer, provide a quick summary of each section you are going to address, then go straight into hitting on each point. This also helps avoid repeating yourself.
Show a multitude of different traits, but most importantly, be yourself! Your interviewers invited you there because they want to meet you and know who you are!
Mistakes to Avoid in MMIs
The good news is everyone makes mistakes during their medical school interview. And that’s ok. The key is to confidently navigate through your mistakes. Here are some common interview mistakes to avoid:
- If a question throws you off, regain your composure; you can also be upfront with the interviewer and say “That’s a great question, could I take a moment to think about it?”
- Confidence is important. Overconfidence is a trap. Prepare yourself. Read up on the school you are interviewing with. Practice and do your best to work through a variety of different scenarios. Be humble in your approach.
- Practice for longer lengths of time to reduce interview fatigue.
- Do your best not to veer off of your prepared path. Changing the script on yourself could potentially lead to freezing up, being thrown off, or an overall weaker performance. Trust yourself and your practice.
Don’t be afraid of MMIs just because they seem like a bigger beat to tackle than 1:1 interviews. Use them to your advantage. MMIs can serve as an important step in your opportunity to showcase what you will bring to the medical schools you are applying to. Understanding their purpose and being ready for this style of interview is equally vital to your success.
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