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 our tips for MMI interviews can help you 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, so read on to learn how to prepare for the MMI interview.
The Multiple Mini Interview is an interview format incorporating six to 12 stations, or sections, each focussed around a single question or scenario. Each station is timed and lasts between five and eight minutes. These stations 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. The AMCAS accepts it as more psychometrically sound than previous methods of interviews for medical school applications.
The MMI will be assessing three things:
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 like oral communication, social and non-verbal skills, and teamwork, among others. These factors are important to assess because 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.
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., 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.”
Not every medical school uses MMI interviews. So, to help you with your medical school MMI prep, we’ve outlined which schools do use MMIs by region:
Please note that all medical schools with a “*” use a hybrid interview format.
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 percent 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 you should begin your medical school MMI prep 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 what will make you shine and 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.”
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, and understand how the interviews are assessed and scored. If you find preparing for medical MMIs difficult, look at MMI practice 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 they do their MMI prep for medical school. Suggestions include the following:
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.
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.
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. 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?
You should also be well versed in current affairs relevant to your field of study. For example, stay up to date with 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.
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 five and eight 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 two minutes to consider the prompt and prepare your thoughts before you enter the room. Prompts will 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 platforms such as Zoom and Google Meet. Familiarize yourself with the application each school uses 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 setup.
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 are ready to study medicine. This is assessed, in part, by observing your communication skills (both verbal and nonverbal).
Unfortunately, you won’t know the questions word for word until you arrive at the MMI. But you can prepare by going over 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 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.
A good way to help with your multiple mini interview prep is to practice interview questions using the sample questions available through McMaster University’s Interviewer Manual. Here, you will 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.
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 you can prepare for the MMI efficiently.
Preparing for MMI medical questions isn’t easy. But there’s no reason you should have to figure it out on your own. If you require MMI interview help, you can schedule a free consultation here.
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, 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 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.
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 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 test. Deep breathing exercises before and during the test can also greatly reduce anxiety. If working under pressure is not your usual strength, focus on developing 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.
Keep in mind that the interview’s eight minutes will not be wasted. You will 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, 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.
A common mistake in interviews is showing how nervous you are. Avoid fidgeting and 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 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, 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 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. The most important thing to leave behind is, however, a positive impression.
Knowing how to practice for the MMI is tricky, as there are many things you need to know. However, we’ve compiled a list of MMI sample questions and question types to help you ace your interviews.
Medical school interviewers want to get to know a candidate’s personality and interest in the medical field. So, expect questions about you, your hobbies, extracurricular activities, clinical experience, research, and ambitions. 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. So, you must practice for the MMI ethical decision-making questions.
Medical schools want to see that 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 and why you would deal with it.
You want to demonstrate your ability to think on your feet. But take your time to consider each angle before making your final decision.
Medical schools can include a station that requires you or an actor to role play as a med student or physician. Then, they may ask you to enact a scenario like delivering bad news to a patient.
MMI role play scenarios are used to 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 is not what medical schools want to see.
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.”
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; figure out the unique aspects of your desired medical school that set it apart from others. Then, use this in your responses to convey your desire to attend that institution. Ensure you are as detailed and specific as possible in your answers.
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 response is clear and shows the interviewee is aware of the basic principles of patient confidentiality.
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, and topics to assess your critical thinking and analytical skills, as well as your adherence to the ethics and values of the medical profession.
Medical schools will not score you 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 nonverbal) and clarity.
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 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.
*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!
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 interview stations to consider the topic prompt; however, any extra time will cut into your maximum discussion time per station.
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.
You may also write the prompt 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.
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.
No, there is no feedback at this stage of the interview process either during or after the MMI.
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.