Preparing for a multiple mini interview (MMI)? Read on for tips on how to prepare and practice MMI questions.
Although every medical school has varying interview formats, applicants can generally expect to face the MMI. Although this interview type may seem daunting, with proper prep, there’s no need to worry.
Keep in mind that if you’ve made it to the interview stage, schools are hoping you’ll succeed and become a positive addition to their community and contribute as a future alum. It’s time to prove them right, so read on to learn how to prepare for the MMI interview.
The MMI is an interview format incorporating six to 12 stations, or sections, each focused on a single question or scenario. Each station is timed and lasts between five and eight minutes. These stations assess your various qualities, such as professionalism, communication, and readiness for a medical career.
The format was created by McMaster University in Canada in 2002. McMaster University describes the MMI’s purpose as “to collect information concerning the personal qualities of those applicants selected for an interview.”
It has been modeled from the Objective Structured Clinical Examination (OSCE) commonly used by Health Sciences Programs. The AMCAS accepts it as more psychometrically sound than previous med school interview methods.
The MMI will be assessing three things:
The MMI is designed to allow schools to comprehensively assess applicants; a full overview of your soft skills, professionalism, values, personality, credentials, background, and goals. The MMI is comparable to the CASPer Test.
The MMI also measures your competency in skills like oral communication, social and non-verbal skills, and teamwork, among others. These factors indicate how well you’ll interact with future patients and colleagues. The MMI aims to assess abilities not clearly identifiable through your application.
With increased interactions, this format helps limit bias within the interview process. The opinions of one interviewer aren’t over-emphasized, giving you a better shot at a fair and unbiased assessment. Medical schools receive a well-rounded impression of an applicant than with a singular interview.
At the same time, you can connect with multiple members of your future community. You can look at the MMI as both an opportunity to let yourself shine professionally and a space to create positive first impressions and early networking.
Glen T. Fogerty, Ph.D., the Associate Dean of Admissions & Recruitment at the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix, states: “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.”
The MMI is an opportunity to connect with future colleagues who were once in the exact position you’re in now. After completing your secondary applications, you’ll hopefully begin receiving interview invitations between October and January.
This means you should begin medical school MMI prep as soon as you submit your secondary applications. You’ll want plenty of time to prepare, research, and practice. Schools aren’t only measuring your ability to succeed. They’re looking for what makes you shine and stand out among other applicants.
Gabriel Garcia, MD, Associate Dean for MD Admissions at Stanford University, states:
“At this stage, all of our candidates are academically ready for medical school. What we want to measure next are the more personal traits that aren’t so easy to measure: compassion, ethics, critical thinking, interpersonal skills.”
To prepare for MMI interviews, you should have a strong grasp of the medical profession. You should also conduct efficient research prior to the MMI, know the test format, what to expect, and understand how the interviews are assessed.
It’s also a good idea to work with a medical school admissions expert so you can receive unbiased feedback on your performance. Keep reading for details on how to prepare for the MMI. Harvard University encourages applicants to think outside of the research box when they do their MMI preparation for medical school. Suggestions include the following:
Consider aspects of your resume or background that may cause your interviewer to pause. Do you receive a poor grade in your sophomore year? Has any school taken disciplinary action against you? Make sure to have an explanation ready for anything your interviewer may bring up.
Now is the time to refresh yourself on the big-picture of “WHY” this school? This is an essential part of your multiple mini interview prep. Ensure you’ve researched the medical school’s website, including the mission statement. In which ways do your views and values align with the school’s?
You should also be well-versed in current affairs relevant to the medical field. For example, stay up-to-date with JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association). You should also be knowledgeable in world issues and general politics. Your interviewer will likely ask you to elaborate or share your views, so ensure you have a fully-formed informed opinion!
Be prepared to authentically express the ways you hope to see your education in medicine benefit and better society.
Although the format may vary by school, you can expect a series of short stations based on a specific prompt or question. Each station is timed and typically lasts between five and eight minutes. When the time at each station is up, a buzzer will sound, indicating you must move on to the next station.
Before entering each station, you’ll have two minutes to consider the prompt and prepare your thoughts. Prompts vary from topics of conversation, quotes, scenarios, and roleplay. The entire process should take nearly two hours.
Some schools have transitioned to a fully virtual interview process using Zoom or Google Meet. Familiarize yourself with the school’s policy before your interview to avoid technical difficulties or confusion.
McMaster University also provides public access to the standard principles of the interview process. You can review this online in the Manual for Interviewers.
Your interviewers want to know if you’re ready to study medicine. This is assessed, in part, by observing your communication skills.
Unfortunately, you won’t know the questions word for word until you arrive at your interview. But you can prepare by reviewing MMI practice questions and familiarizing yourself with the various topics and types of interview questions. Your interview questions can cover a wide range of topics.
Some topics, themes, and scenarios to potentially expect in the MMI prompts:
Below is an example of a scorecard for the MMI as designed by McMaster University.
Applicants are scored based on communication skills, the strength of arguments expressed, and suitability for the medical profession. A score of 10 is ideal. A score of 1 = unsuitable for the medical profession.
An excellent way to prepare for multiple mini interviews is to practice using the sample questions available from McMaster University’s Interviewer Manual. Here, you’ll find MMI resources and sample questions related to the following topics: ethical decision-making, communication (with an actor), task-oriented collaboration, and personal interview.
Other top medical schools offer lists of practice MMI questions:
Practice questions can help you build confidence for the real thing!
After looking at sample questions and scenarios you may encounter in the MMI, it’s a good idea to practice with an expert. Expert admissions consultants with years of experience in medical school admissions can provide knowledgeable feedback to boost your performance and guide your MMI interview prep plan.
Preparing for MMI medical questions isn’t easy, but remember, you don’t have to navigate preparation alone!
We’re here to guide you through this process by ensuring you’re ready for even the most unexpected situations. Here are a few things that can get in the way of reaching your full potential and acing the MMI.
While it’s true you can’t know the exact wording of questions before the MMI, you can still invest time in your MMI prep for medical school. Using guides provided by the university or an expert admissions consultant, you can prepare and understand the format of the questions and topics likely to be addressed.
Many people struggle with timed tests. Timed exams often cause students stress and anxiety that can affect their ability to accurately portray their abilities.
If timed tests aren’t your strength, the best thing you can do is get a good night’s sleep. Don’t leave prep until the night before the MMI test. Deep breathing exercises before and during the test can also greatly reduce anxiety.
During your prep, practice answering potential interview questions while using a timer. This can be done while practicing with mock interviews. Have someone else hold the timer so you’re not distracted by the ticking clock. This prep helps you become accustomed to speaking concisely on a specific topic for a precise amount of time.
Lastly, think of developing these skills of working under pressure as prep for the biggest test of all — your career in medicine.
You’ll be required to speak on the topic at length, and the interviewer may ask you to elaborate on specific points. This may be a challenge for some to think on the spot. Follow-up questions require you to expand or elaborate on the interview section prompt question.
Think of follow-up questions as standard interview questions. Yes, you’re in the hot seat, but you’re well-prepared and knowledgeable about the topic — so there’s nothing to worry about. When the interviewer asks you to elaborate on your answers, think of this as an opportunity to clarify your points or add details to your answer.
Being asked to elaborate doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to backtrack.
Here are some MMI tips to help you present your best self!
A common mistake in interviews is showing how nervous you are. Avoid fidgeting and speaking in circles, and friendly eye contact with your interviewer and smile when appropriate. Don’t forget about posture. This will all be part of nonverbal communication. The best way to avoid freezing up during the MMI is to be well-prepared.
Have you ever jumped into a conversation not fully understanding the topic, only to realize halfway through your sentence that you’re talking about something entirely different?
That may be something to laugh about at a party, but at the MMI, be sure you FULLY understand the topic prompts for each section. You can take a few extra seconds to reread it if necessary. If you don’t understand, you can always ask the interviewer to clarify.
Remember that prompts may be vague but aren’t trying to trick you. The goal is to showcase your analytical and communication skills. Worry less about coming up with the “right” answer and more about practicing strategies for giving the interviewer a full understanding of your communication abilities.
When you leave each interview, remember to politely thank your interviewer and say goodbye. You may also wish to follow up with a thank you note after the meeting. However, the most important thing to leave behind is a positive impression.
These are the most common types of MMI questions you’ll be asked in your interview.
Medical school interviewers want to understand a candidate’s personality and interest in the medical field. So, expect questions about your:
Be honest with the interviewer, and you’ll breeze through these questions.
This is the most common type of interview station you’ll encounter during an MMI. Medical schools want to see you’re compassionate, empathetic, and able to view dilemmas from multiple perspectives. Acing the ethical decision-making questions requires you to outline the situation from every point of view before explaining how you would navigate the scenario.
You want to demonstrate your ability to think on your feet while taking time to consider each angle before making your final decision.
Medical schools can include a station that requires you or an actor to roleplay as a med student or physician. Then, they may ask you to enact a scenario like delivering bad news to a patient.
MMI roleplay scenarios gauge your bedside manner and how you communicate with others. So, don’t let the pressure get to you; take a deep breath and relax. If you buy into the scenario and fully commit yourself, you’ll be more natural in your responses.
Most MMIs will have a station that requires you and another candidate to complete a challenge. This can be difficult, as some applicants will approach these scenarios with a competitive mentality. However, this isn’t what medical schools are looking for.
Medical schools set up these teamwork exercises to analyze how you work in a team. As Bilal Naved, the Co-founder and CEO of a Chicago-based consumer health platform, notes, “Admissions committees are looking for people that work well together and in teams.”
Knowing how to practice for the MMI is tricky, as there are many things you need to know to perform your best on interview day. We’ll review two answers to common MMI questions and provide a list you can use to direct your preparation.
Let’s take a look at two MMI practice questions and answers.
Why did you apply to this school?
Answer: “I am impressed by this school's commitment to excellence and its stellar reputation in the medical community. I have a lot of respect for the school's faculty, and I am particularly interested in learning from Professor Smith. I think earning my medical degree from this institution will provide me with the skills I need to be an effective doctor and give me a head start in my career.”
The key to answering this type of question is research; determine the unique aspects of your desired medical school that set it apart from others. Use these details in your response to convey your desire to attend that institution. Ensure you’re as detailed and specific as possible.
This response is concise, detailed, and shows why the applicant wants to attend the medical school in question.
What would you say to a family member if they requested you to share a patient’s private information?
Answer: “If sharing the information they are asking for would violate the doctor/patient confidentiality agreement, I would politely tell them that I am not at liberty to discuss that topic in detail. If they are upset or confused, I would explain the nature of patient confidentiality and I would offer them any non-confidential information that I have concerning the patient.”
This question is designed to test your understanding of medical ethics and policies. This clear response and shows the interviewee is aware of the basic principles of patient confidentiality.
We’ve compiled a list of MMI sample questions and question types to help you ace your interviews.
These MMI questions are courtesy of the University of British Columbia:
“1. A 14 year old patient requests birth control pills from you and asks that you not tell her parents. What would you do?
2. A member of your family decides to depend solely on alternative medicine for treatment of his or her significant illness. What would you do?
3. If you have the choice of giving a transplant to a successful elderly member of the community and a 20 year old drug addict – how do you choose?
4. An eighteen year-old female arrives in the emergency room with a profound nose bleed. You are the physician, and you have stopped the bleeding. She is now in a coma from blood loss and will die without a transfusion. A nurse finds a recent signed card from Jehovah's Witnesses Church in the patient's purse refusing blood transfusions under any circumstance. What would you do?
5. The Canadian Pediatric Association has recommended that circumcisions 'not be routinely performed'. They base this recommendation on their determination that 'the benefits have not been shown to clearly outweigh the risks and costs'. Doctors have no obligation to refer for, or provide, a circumcision, but many do, even when they are clearly not medically necessary. BC Medicare no longer pays for unnecessary circumcisions. Consider the ethical problems that exist in this case. Discuss these issues with the interviewer.
6. A Vancouver biotech company was hired by the US Military to develop a cure for Ebola. They successfully developed a vaccine to treat the symptoms of the virus and lowered the mortality rate for infected patients. Discuss the implications of this on a global scale.
7. Your mother calls you and asks you to help with a major family decision. Your maternal grandfather is 70 years old and has been diagnosed with a condition that will kill him some time in the next five years. He can have a procedure that will correct the disease and not leave him with any long-term problems, but the procedure has a 10% mortality rate. He wants to have the procedure, but your mother does not want him to. How would you help mediate this issue?
8. You are a genetic counselor. One of your clients, Linda, had a boy with a genetic defect that may have a high recurrence risk, meaning her subsequent pregnancies have a high chance of being affected by the same defect. You offered genetic testing of Linda, her husband, and their son to find out more about their disease, to which everyone agreed. The result showed that neither Linda nor her husband carry the mutation, while the boy inherited the mutation on a paternal chromosome that did not come from Linda's husband. In other words, the boy's biological father is someone else, who is unaware that he carries the mutation. You suspect that Linda nor her husband are aware of this non-paternity.
How would you disclose the results of this genetic analysis to Linda and her family? What principles and who do you have to take into consideration in this case?
9. A woman enters the emergency room with stomach pain. She undergoes a CT scan and is diagnosed with an abdominal aortic aneurysm. The physicians inform her that the only way to fix the problem is surgically, and that the chances of survival are about 50/50. They also inform her that time is of the essence, and that should the aneurysm burst, she would be dead in a few short minutes. The woman is an exotic dancer; she worries that the surgery will leave a scar that will negatively affect her work; therefore, she refuses any surgical treatment. Even after much pressuring from the physicians, she adamantly refuses surgery. Feeling that the woman is not in her correct state of mind and knowing that time is of the essence, the surgeons decide to perform the procedure without consent. They anesthetize her and surgically repair the aneurysm. She survives, and sues the hospital for millions of dollars. Do you believe that the physician's actions can be justified in any way? Is it ever right to take away someone's autonomy?
10. You are a general practitioner and a mother comes into your office with her child who is complaining of flu-like symptoms. Upon entering the room, you ask the boy to remove his shirt and you notice a pattern of bruises on the boy's torso. You ask the mother where the bruises came from, and she tells you that they are from a procedure she performed on him known as "cao gio," which is also known as "coining." The procedure involves rubbing warm oils or gels on a person's skin with a coin or other flat metal object. The mother explains that cao gio is used to raise out bad blood, and improve circulation and healing. When you touch the boy's back with your stethoscope, he winces in pain from the bruises. You debate whether or not you should call Child Protective Services and report the mother. When should a physician step in to stop a cultural practice? Should the physician be concerned about alienating the mother and other people of her ethnicity from modern medicine?
11. A patient with Downs Syndrome became pregnant. The patient does not want an abortion. Her mother and husband want the patient to have an abortion. What should a physician do in this situation?
12. A 12-year old boy is diagnosed with a terminal illness (e.g., malignancy). He asked the doctor about his prognosis. His parents requested the doctor not to tell him the bad news. What should the doctor do in this situation?
13. A couple has decided to have a child through artificial insemination. They asked the physician for sex selection of the child. What should a physician advise in this situation?
14. A physician became sexually involved with a current patient who initiated or consented to the contact. Is it ethical for a physician to become sexually involved?
15. A 17-year old boy lives independently. He is married and has one child. He wants to participate in a medical research study. Does he need his parents’ permission?
16. A physician went on vacation for 2 weeks. He did not find another physician to cover him. One of his patients with hypertension developed a severe headache. The patient has an appointment with the doctor as soon as he comes back from vacation. The patient did not look for another physician and decided to wait. The patient suddenly collapses and was diagnosed to have intracranial hemorrhage. Is the physician responsible for this patient?
17. A 40-year old schizophrenic patient needs hernia repair. Surgeon discussed the procedure with the patient who understood the procedure. Can the patient give consent?
18. A physician picked up a car accident victim from the street and brought him to the ER in his car. He did not want to wait for an ambulance because the patient’s condition was critical. Physical examination in the ER reveals quadriplegia. Is the physician liable for this consequence?
19. As a physician at a local hospital you notice that there is a man with an alcohol dependency who keeps on consuming the hand sanitizer offered at the hand sanitizer stands throughout the hospital. He is not a patient at the hospital at present but has been many times in the past. Consequently, there is often no hand sanitizer for public use. What do you do? Do you remove/change the location of hand sanitizer stands? Do you approach him?
20. A 18-year old man is diagnosed to have suspected bacterial meningitis. He refuses therapy and returns to the college dormitory. What should a physician do in this situation?
21. Is it ethical for doctors to strike? If so, under what conditions?
22. There is an outbreak of an incredibly contagious life-threatening disease. The disease is spreading across the country at a rapid rate and the survival rate is less than 50%. You are a senior healthcare administrator, and when the vaccine is developed, you have priority to receive the drug. Do you take the vaccine yourself or give it to another person? Why or why not?
23. You are a health researcher at an academic institution. You have been asked to work on a top-secret vaccine that would treat biomedical weapons or other communicable diseases. Before your break through, you are instructed by the government to stop all research and turn over all materials and copies of your work to be destroyed. You know you are very close to finding a cure. What do you do?
24. A patient requests needles and syringes at his/her local pharmacy. They do not present with a prescription, and based on the records you can access, they are not receiving treatment for diabetes. Do you sell the syringes or not?
25. Dr. Blair recommends homeopathic medicines to his patients. There is no scientific evidence or widely accepted theory to suggest that homeopathic medicines work, and Dr. Blair doesn't believe them to. He recommends homeopathic medicine to people with mild and non-specific symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and muscle aches, because he believes that it will do no harm, but will give them reassurance. Consider the ethical problems that Dr. Blair’s behavior might pose. Discuss.”
These questions are courtesy of the University of Toronto:
Not every medical school uses MMI interviews. So, to help you with your medical school MMI prep, we’ve outlined which schools use MMIs by region:
The medical school MMI is full of challenges. But we’ve put together several questions and answers to help you overcome them.
The topics covered in the MMI include current issues in the medical field, real-life scenarios, collaboration, topics to assess your critical thinking and analytical skills, and your adherence to the ethics and values of the medical profession.
You may send a “thank you” note after your interview. Harvard University also suggests sending a handwritten note to interviewers following the MMI unless the school indicates otherwise.
After the MMI, you can proceed to the final steps of your application. This may include sending a letter of intent to your number one school to show your continued and committed interest in the program.
Mini interviews should be no longer than eight minutes. Depending on the school, you may be permitted to take longer than the allotted two minutes between stations to consider the prompt; however, any extra time will cut into your maximum discussion time per station.
Yes, you’ll have two minutes between interviews to read the topic or scenario for that section.
You may also write the prompt on a piece of paper attached to the door of the interview room or when you enter. A buzzer will sound when it’s time to move on to the next interview.
The interviewer can clarify terms, wording, and station instructions. They will not elaborate on the scoring procedure or MMI protocols.
No, there’s no feedback at this stage of the interview process, either during or after the MMI.
How long it takes to prepare for your MMIs depends on how prepared you feel and how proficient you are at interviewing. However, we recommend preparing for your interviews as early as possible – you may not receive much notice from schools before your interview date.
The best way to prepare for an MMI is to research the school, review practice questions, and practice one-on-one with someone who can give you expert feedback on how to improve your performance. The more questions you practice with, the more prepared you’ll feel!
The best way to minimize nervousness is to feel prepared for the interview, take deep breaths, and remember to smile and try your best.
You should show up to your interview early, eat a healthy breakfast, and ensure your equipment works if you’re participating in a virtual interview.
The MMI format is a tried and trusted method of assessing your candidacy for medical school. However, it’s not without its challenges. Before going into the MMI, do your research, read this guide carefully, and ensure you understand what’s expected of you.
Finally, RELAX! The best way to avoid freezing up during your interview is to stay calm, cool, and collected. Take a deep breath — you’ve got this.