Student taking notes in notepad on how to prepare for the MMI

How To Prepare For the MMI

July 5, 2021
Part 1. IntroductionPart 2. What is the MMI?Part 3. Why Do Schools use the MMI Format?Part 4. Importance of Preparing for the MMIPart 5. How to Prepare for the MMIPart 6. What to ExpectPart 7. How You’ll Be ScoredPart 8. Practice with Sample QuestionsPart 9. Get Expert FeedbackPart 10. Tips for Acing the MMIPart 11. FAQsPart 12. Conclusion

Introduction

You’re almost there! You’ve made it through the AMCAS Primary Application; you’ve written a solid personal essay and completed secondary applications. You may have even done some soul searching about where you can picture yourself studying and working for the next few years of your career.

Although every medical school has varying interview formats, applicants can generally expect to face the MMI. The MMI (Multiple Mini Interview) is one of the final obstacles you may face before being admitted to your dream program. Although this interview may seem daunting, with proper prep, there’s no need to worry. 

In this article, we’ll help you understand how to prepare for the MMI. Together, we’ll look at the importance of in-depth MMI preparation and the research you’ll need to do. We’ll also ensure you understand the test format and scoring. Keep reading to learn about some of the MMI challenges you may face during the process and how to overcome them!

Keep in mind that if you’ve made it to the MMI stage in the application process, your schools are rooting for you - hoping you will succeed and become a positive addition to their community and contribute as a future alum. It’s time to prove them right.

What is the MMI?

The Multiple Mini Interview is an interview format incorporating six to twelve stations, or sections, each focused around a single question or scenario. Each station is timed, lasting between 5-8 minutes, and are designed to assess a variety of qualities such as professionalism, communication, and readiness for a career in medicine.

The format was originally 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 and has been accepted by the AMCAS as more psychometrically sound than previous methods of interviews for medical school applications.

The MMI will be assessing three things: Your communication skills, your ability to apply general knowledge, and your suitability to your intended profession.

The MMI is designed to give admissions committees the chance to assess applicants from 360 degrees - a full overview of your soft skills, professionalism, values, personality, credentials, background, and goals. The MMI is comparable to the CASPer Test which you may have already experienced earlier in your application process.

The MMI also measures your competency in skills such as oral communication, social and non-verbal skills, and teamwork, among others. These factors are important to assess as they indicate how well you will be able to interact with future patients and colleagues.

The MMI aims to assess your abilities that are not clearly identifiable through your written application or resume.

 

Why Do Schools use the MMI Format?

With an increased number of interactions, this format helps to limit bias within the interview process. The opinions of one interviewer will not be over-emphasized, giving you a better shot at a fair and unbiased assessment. Medical schools will obtain a more well-rounded impression of an applicant than with a singular interview. 

At the same time, you have the opportunity to 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., 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.”

Importance of Preparing for the MMI

You definitely want to avoid showing up to the MMI ill-prepared. Even if you are interviewing with a school that is not your top choice, your goal should still be 100% success. You are being given the 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 invitations for interviews between October and January. This means that you should begin preparing for the MMI as soon as you send your secondary applications - as early as July or August.

You will want to give yourself plenty of time to prepare, research, practice, study, and self-assess your readiness. Schools are not only measuring your ability to succeed in the program, they are looking for the thing that will make you shine; stand out among the sea of 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.”

How to Prepare for the MMI

In preparation for the MMI, you should already have a strong grasp of your desired field of study. You should be in a position to begin narrowing down your choices and therefore be able to tell your interviewers why their program is a perfect fit for you.

You should also conduct efficient research prior to the MMI, have a solid understanding of the test format and what to expect, understand how the interviews are assessed and scored, and practice with sample interview questions.

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 preparing for interviews. Suggestions include:

It would help if you think about aspects of your resume or background that may cause your interviewer to pause. Do you have a poor, looming grade? Has any school taken disciplinary action against you? Make sure to have a rational explanation ready should these past indiscretions be addressed during the MMI.

Research

After doing your research on the top medical schools in the country, commencing the application process, and narrowing down your choices, it’s now time to go through the fine print. 

Make sure you have thoroughly researched the medical school’s website, including the mission statement. In which ways do your views and values line up with the culture of the school? This is something you most likely contemplated during the early application process - now is the time to refresh yourself on the big-picture of “WHY” this school

You should also be well versed in current affairs relevant to your field of study. For example, stay up to date with the JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association) which covers topics on various medical fields.

You should also be knowledgeable in world issues and general politics related to your career goals. Your interviewer will likely ask you to elaborate or share your views on the topic prompt - so make sure you have done your research and have a fully-formed, informed opinion at hand!

Be prepared to express with authenticity the ways that you hope to see your education in medicine benefit and better society. For more tips, check out our more detailed blog post to learn how to prepare for a medical school interview. 

Understanding the MMI Format

Although the format may vary from school to school, you can expect a series of short stations based on a specific prompt or question. Each station is timed and will last between 5 and 8 minutes. When the time at each station is up, a buzzer will sound, indicating that you must move onto the next station.

Before entering each station, you will have 2 minutes to consider the prompt and prepare your thoughts before you enter the room. Prompts will vary from topics of conversation, quotes, scenarios, and role-play. The entire process should take nearly two hours. 

Tip:

Check your Tech! Some schools have transitioned to a fully virtual interview process using platforms such as Zoom and Google Meet-up. Familiarize yourself with the application used by each school well before your scheduled MMI to avoid technical difficulties or confusion.

The last thing you want is your chat being disconnected mid-interview, or appearing as if you can’t handle a microphone set-up! McMaster University also provides public access to the standard principles of the interview process. This can be reviewed online in the Manual for Interviewers

What to Expect

Your interviewers want to know if you are ready to study medicine. This is assessed, in part, by observing your communication skills (both verbal and non-verbal).

Although you won’t know the questions word for word until arriving at the MMI, you can prepare by going over practice questions, and familiarizing yourself with the various topics and types of questions. Your interview questions can cover a wide range of topics. 

Some topics, themes, and scenarios to potentially expect in the MMI prompts: 

Critical Thinking

During your MMI, you’ll be required to demonstrate analytical and critical thinking skills. You may experience a policy-related question or a statement regarding a controversial topic, where these skills will especially come into play.

Current Events Questions

These questions are designed to test your specific knowledge of current events in the field of medicine. In addition, they will assess your ability to apply general knowledge to current events in society and culture, as well as your clarity of communication.

Acting Scenarios 

During acting stations, you’ll be assigned a role and will be expected to interact with a hired actor, also playing a role. Admissions committees will be assessing your ability to communicate in your future professional role.

Values and Ethics Scenarios

You may encounter questions on social policy implications or ethical dilemmas. Be sure to answer these questions with non-judgemental responses that consider the impact of your decisions on everyone involved. 

Teamwork Activities

This may include working with other applicants, either in-person or virtually, in teamwork-oriented tasks while the interviewer observes your ability to collaborate effectively.

How You’ll Be Scored

Below is an example of a scorecard for the MMI as designed by McMaster University. 

Example MMI scorecard from McMaster University

Applicants are scored with consideration to 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.

Practice with Sample Questions

A good way to help prepare for the MMI is to practice interview questions using the sample questions available through McMaster University’s Interviewer Manual. Here you will find sample questions related to the following topics: ethical decision-making, communication (with an actor), task-oriented collaboration, and personal interview. 

Other top medical schools also offer lists of practice MMI questions. 

Get Expert Feedback

After looking into sample questions and scenarios that you may encounter in the MMI, it’s a good idea to have your practiced responses read by an expert. Expert admissions consultants with years of experience in University Admissions will be able to give you knowledgeable feedback so that you can prepare for the MMI efficiently. 

Medical school interviews aren’t easy! There’s no reason you should have to figure it out on your own. You can schedule a free consultation here

MMI Challenges & Tips for Overcoming Them

What could go wrong!? Well, lots of things! Don’t worry though, 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. 

Knowing What to Expect

While it’s true that you can’t know the exact wording of the question prompts before the MMI, don’t think you can’t invest time in preparation. Using guides provided by the University or an expert admissions consultant, you can prepare by ensuring you understand the format of the questions and topics that are likely to be addressed.

If you fully understand what the test is trying to learn about YOU, then you should have no problem acing your interviews.

Time Limits

Many people struggle with timed tests. In fact, the American Test Anxieties Association has determined that timed exams actually cause students stress and anxiety that can affect their ability to accurately portray their abilities.

If timed tests are not 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.

Deep breathing exercises before and during the test can also greatly help reduce anxiety. If working under pressure is not your usual strength, focus on training your skills. During your MMI prep, practice answering potential interview questions while using a timer. This can be done while practicing with mock interviews.

Have your advisor or consultation expert hold the timer, so you’re not distracted by the ticking clock. This prep will allow you to become accustomed to speaking intelligently and 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 the field of medicine.

Follow-Up Questions

Keep in mind that the interview’s 8 minutes will not be wasted. You will be required to speak on the topic at length and the interviewer may also ask you to elaborate on specific points.

This may be a challenge for some as you will be required to think on the spot. Follow-up questions are likely to 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 either clarify your points, or add details to your answer. Being asked to elaborate does not necessarily mean that you need to backtrack - trust your prep and that you’re on the right track!

How to prepare for the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI)

Tips for Acing the MMI

Stress and Body Language

A common mistake in interviews is showing how nervous you are. Avoid fidgeting, speaking in circles and be sure to make friendly eye-contact with your interviewer and smile when appropriate. Don’t forget about posture. This will all be part of your assessment of non-verbal communication. 

The best way to avoid freezing up during the MMI is to be well prepared. 

Misreading or Misunderstanding Topic Prompts

Have you ever jumped into a conversation not fully understanding the topic, only to realize half-way 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 re-read it, twice if necessary. If you don’t understand, you can always ask the interviewer to clarify. 

Remember that prompts may be vague but they 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 abilities being assessed. 

Manners

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 following the meeting. The most important thing to leave behind is, however, a positive impression.

FAQs

1. What topics will be covered in the interviews?

The topics covered in the MMI will vary with a wide range of potential questions covering topics such as current issues in the medical field, real-life scenarios, collaboration, and topics to assess your critical thinking and analytical skills, as well as your adherence to the ethics and values of the medical profession.

You will not be scored on the accuracy of your answers as much as on your ability to apply general knowledge to the task or issue being discussed. Your interviewers will also be scoring your communications skills (both verbal and non-verbal) and clarity.

2. Should I follow up with my interviewers?

According to the previously mentioned student guide by Harvard, you may choose to send a “Thank you” to the student guide. Harvard University also suggests sending a hand-written 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. 

*Letter of Intent:

This is the cherry on top of your application process. It won’t guarantee entrance into your preferred school, but it will let the team know that you are as committed to them as they are (hopefully) to you!

3. How long is each mini-interview?

Mini-interviews should be no longer than 8 minutes. Depending on the school, you may be permitted to take longer than the allotted 2 minutes between interview stations to consider the topic prompt, however, any extra time will cut into your maximum discussion time per station. 

4. Will I have time to prepare between interviews?

Yes, you will have two minutes between interview sections during which you will receive a card with the topics of discussion or scenario for that section. The prompt may also be written on a piece of paper attached to the door of the interview room, or when you enter.

With proper preparation prior to the MMI, this will be sufficient time to prepare your thoughts. A buzzer will sound when it’s time to move on to the next interview.

5. Can I ask the interviewer questions?

The interviewer will be allowed to provide clarifications on terms, wording, and station instructions. They will not, however, elaborate on the scoring procedure or MMI protocols.

6. Will I receive feedback after my interviews?

No, there is no feedback at this stage of the interview process either during or after the MMI.

Conclusion

For those preparing for the MMI (or in the early stages of med school applications) save this post for later - trust us, you’ll need it! The Multiple Mini-Interview 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 carefully through the above guide on how to prepare for the MMI, and be sure to have an understanding of what will be expected of you. Although the format of the testing is standard, some details may vary from school to school.

Use the links above to view actual practice questions from top medical schools and opt for expert consultation and feedback. 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.

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