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Variety of doors representing the rooms you enter during the MMI for medical school

MMI for Medical School: A Comprehensive Guide

July 12, 2022
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What Is The Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) For Medical School?Purpose Of The MMIMMI FormatMMI Teamwork/Collaborative (Scenarios And Questions) MMI Acting (Scenarios And Questions) How Is The MMI Used In The Admissions Process? MMI FAQs

”Rohan

Reviewed by:

Rohan Jotwani

Former Chief Resident in Anesthesiology, Weill Cornell Medicine, & Admissions Officer, Columbia University

Reviewed: 7/12/22

Are you preparing for your med school and wondering how MMI interviews work? Read on to learn more about multiple medical schools interviews and what you need to do to ace yours. 

The MMI for medical school is known as one of the most difficult interview formats. We've got insight to guide you through your journey. This post will cover everything regarding the MMI for medical school, its purpose, format, use in the admissions process, and frequently asked questions.

Medical school interviews come in many different forms. You can go through more traditional interviews, where you're asked about your academic, volunteer-based, and professional background. Going through an MMI interview for medical school is a completely different beast – one we want you to be prepared for.

Don't sweat the small stuff. Study the subjects that this post covers, and you'll be sure to ace your interviews. Alright, let's get into the MMI format guide.

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What is the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) for Medical School?

The Multiple Mini Interview for medical school, commonly abbreviated as "MMI," was developed by McMaster University and is known to be a daunting interview process. It consists of 3-12 interview stations (depending on the medical school you applied to), all individually focused on a different scenario or question. 

The different stations in a med school MMI assess your skills in some of the following areas: 

The Multiple Mini Interview will also measure your teamwork and oral communication skills. 

The MMI test for medical school is challenging because of the fear that surrounds it. The questions posed are less predictable and more complex than in traditional or panel-type interviews. This is why applicants are fearful and sometimes even freeze up during these mini-interviews. 

The MMI interview format is distinctive because you have a chance to display your values and skills to several admission committee members. Think of it as having the opportunity to create various lasting first impressions. If you feel like you didn't perform as well in one session, you will have more opportunities to do better in the next round. 

It is important to note that MMIs are constantly changing. It is a great idea to contact your school's faculty. A majority of medical schools are doing their MMI interviews remotely. Therefore, the format of your MMI test is likely to vary, and the experience could be modified. 

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Purpose of the MMI

What is the Multiple Mini Interview? Before we go through the MMI interview format and how to prepare for it, let's go over why this format has increased in popularity:

  1. Multiple people are interviewing you. Therefore there is less subjectivity or bias. Rather than basing decisions on one interview, the assessment is reliable due to the number of interactions. 
  2. The MMI allows applicants to showcase their skills throughout the process. This interview process was created by the medical school community. Therefore, it is a more grounded theory.
  3. Having multiple interviews tests your stress levels and if you're capable of handling pressure. You must learn to manage your stress before heading into your MMI. A common reason students fail their MMI is because of their inability to control stress levels. 

Admissions committees are using the MMI to assess if you have the skills necessary to be a future practicing professional. For example,  they want to feel assured that you have strong communication skills, are an ethical individual, and can react well under pressure.                          

Multiple Mini Interview Format 

Typically, the format is a series of 8-12 interviews over 2 hours with a 2-minute prep time per interview. After this prep time, you have 5-8 minutes to discuss the prompt with your assessor. The cycle then repeats, and you’re off to your next station, repeating the rotation until the interview process is complete. 

Circles howing length and number of interviews in a typical med school MMI

To begin with, you'll wait outside of the examination room and read the prompt posted on the outside of the door or wall. There will be a description of the task to be completed, questions to be answered, or scenarios to address. 

The prompt is posted on the outside of the room but is usually also posted on the inside so you can refer to it in case you get lost. However, please keep in mind that every school has a different procedure here. 

Some schools will not provide you with a copy of the prompt inside the room, so you’ll have to memorize the prompt. If you’re unsure, check with your school’s admissions office before your interview. If you can’t verify this information, be sure you’re prepared for either scenario. 

A bell will ring, which signals that the interviewer is ready to go. Med schools will sometimes provide applicants with a clipboard, paper, and pencil so they can take notes throughout the process. However, be sure to bring your own supplies just in case. 

The interviewers will not partake in discussions about the MMI test process or how the individual is performing during the interview. Keep your ears open at all times because new information can be introduced at any time. 

It is important to manage your stress levels before entering these interviews. You want to come off as confident, collected, and communicate your answers clearly. You also must prepare for follow-up questions. These questions can be asked after your initial prompt. 

Some students freeze up when these sorts of questions are asked. A follow-up question is very similar to the initial prompt. You still must follow the same steps as before, so take your time. If you don’t have an answer to the question right away, don’t panic. Stay calm, cool, and collected until you’re ready to speak. 

Remember that MMI formatting may vary, and it is important to contact the faculty or admissions office if you’re unclear about anything. 

How Is The MMI Scored?

So, how is the MMI scored? You are graded on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being the best possible score you can achieve. Applicants are given an aggregate interview score once the interviews are finished. These scores are based on how well the individual performed at each unique station. 

Circle showing interview grading scale from 1-10

The MMI uses a variety of short assessments that are timed to obtain an aggregate score of an individual's soft skills. Soft skills are a combination of personality traits that are related to a person's relationship with a particular social environment. These kinds of skills include: 

There are a variety of different subjects that will be brought up during your interview. The MMI is designed to assess non-verbal communication skills alongside assessing a student’s readiness to enter the field of medical practice as a professional.

It isn't too scary if you think about it, you’ll know about the topic before you have to discuss it. This is unlike any other format where you'd be asked on the spot, so the MMI provides you with an advantage. 

There are multiple different types of questions that can show up on the MMI. The question types and topics include: 

In the next sections, we’ll go over how to answer MMI questions. We will go over a few MMI example questions and answers, possible scenarios, and types of questions that may arise. 

MMI Teamwork/Collaborative (Scenarios and Questions) 

Let’s talk about how to answer different types of MMI questions in the multiple mini teamwork or collaboration stations. 

MMI teamwork questions are some of the most common MMI questions, and are designed to assess how you would behave in a team environment. This is done to show admission committee members how you would get along with members of a clinical team. 

Once you’re a physician, you’ll rarely be working alone. Therefore you must understand that admission committees are always on the lookout for team players. 

Common MMI teamwork questions, depending on the school, ask the examinee to be responsible for completing a task. For example, you could be required to assemble Legos — perhaps alone or with a partner. 

You could also be put in a scenario where you have the instructions to build said Lego structure, but your partner does not. Therefore, you're responsible for using your words to explain how to build the structure. The roles can also be reversed. 

Tips for the Teamwork Portion of the MMI

No matter what role you're in during the teamwork portion of the MMI questions, be sure to follow these tips: 

  1. Use a clear tone of voice and speak slowly when giving instructions to your peers. Make sure that the directions you are giving aren't overly complex. Use your best judgment to ensure that you aren't leading your partner in multiple directions.
  2. Check in with your partner regularly. No matter what role you're in (performer/instructor), make sure that lines of communication are open at all times. Use "we" statements while working with your partner instead of "I." 

Despite what you might think, the project you’re working on with your teammates doesn't need to be completed. Admissions committees are interested in viewing your teamwork and communication skills first-hand. They aren't checking to see how fast you complete the assigned project.

Most candidates make the mistake of thinking they need to rush to complete all the tasks. This is not the case. It’s more important to demonstrate your ability to communicate clearly and effectively than to complete the task.

MMI Acting (Scenarios and Questions)

Admissions committees want to see how you go about daily life and what your personality is like outside of the field, which you should consider during your multiple mini interview preparation. 

In an example of an MMI acting scenario, you may be asked to stage and act out a problem that is going on between you and your best friend. There will be an actor who is assigned another role. The purpose of the scenario is to resolve the issue at hand. 

The best way to prepare yourself for this situation is to use your two minutes to think about when you've had to make tough decisions in your life. 

These acting questions tend to be some of the hardest MMI questions because the scenario puts you in difficult positions. For example, you could be faced with dealing with a situation such as this MMI acting scenario example:


  1. You are faced with an actor playing a 70-year-old woman who just got diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease. She is coming to gain valuable information about her diagnosis when she suddenly starts to panic and breaks into tears. How do you deal with the situation at hand? 

This acting question is putting you in a situation to test your empathy with future patients. It's important to treat the woman with as much empathy as possible while teaching her about her condition. Spend as much time proving comfort and act as if she was a close family member.  

Assessors essentially want to see your core values as an individual. These types of hard MMI questions and scenarios will give a good picture of how you have behaved in past situations. The bonus to these types of questions is that they should be easier since there is a high likelihood that you've faced a similar experience in real life. 

You must be sure that you are respecting others' values while holding high moral standards yourself. Make sure your ethics are up to date before heading into an MMI. This brings us to the last type of question set that will be presented. 

Personal Questions

You will probably be familiar with some of these personal-type questions from previous job interviews. However, these questions are still different because they will be presented to you in MMI contexts. 

You will be given two minutes to prepare your answer outside of the room and up to 8 minutes (depending on the school) to answer the question. Admissions will be looking to see if you possess personal qualities such as altruism, compassion, integrity, and empathy. 

Here are some examples of personal MMI questions: 

"Tell me about your biggest accomplishment in life?” 
“What makes it so important?” 
"What is your greatest weakness and why?" 

In your two-minute brainstorming phase, you should reflect on your skills and experiences and draw from personal experience to form your MMI interview answer structure. 

For tough questions such as "What is your greatest weakness and why?", make sure you're answering as honestly and openly as possible. Always admit that you have a weakness (everyone does) and be as vulnerable as possible. 

However, don't offer a weakness that might be a key part of your future role. Don't say "I'm always late" or "I don't perform well under pressure”. Be sure to go through how you are also taking the necessary steps to correct the weakness. 

Other MMI example questions you may be asked are policy-based and “other” (quirky questions). An example of a policy-based question could be: “The current COVID-19 vaccinations are not recommended for pregnant women. Discuss whether you disagree or agree with the government's decision”. 

To answer this type of question, you’d have to be up to date with your current knowledge of the vaccine. You would also need to keep the public in mind while answering. 

It is important to look at this situation from all angles and answer reasonably. For example, if the mother was about to pass from COVID and the vaccine was readily available to save her life - that is one scenario. If the mother just wanted to get vaccinated without showing any symptoms of COVID, your answer could change. 

The final type of question we will be going over is “Other” (quirky question) types. These questions can spring up unexpectedly and leave you confused. An example quirky question could be: “What was the most recent movie you’ve seen or book you’ve read?”. 

When answering these questions, think strategically about how you can link your answers to medicine. These types of questions are designed to throw you off a little. Remain calm and answer intelligently. You will probably have a chance to show your humor off with these types of questions. 

How Is The MMI Used In The Admissions Process? 

The MMI is used in the admissions process to evaluate your communication skills, professionalism, and ethical decision-making, among the other traits you possess. 

Admissions committees use the MMI as an admission tool to aid the process because it is generally seen as more reliable than other interview formats. Evidence shows that the MMI is a less-biased and more feasible way to gain valuable information on candidates. It highlights how they would act in real-life situations and contexts. 

The individual who is taking the MMI has the chance to impress multiple admission committee members. There is also less room for subjectivity because of the number of mini-interviews you must go through. 

The MMI format is used in the admissions process to your advantage. You have many people working together to formulate ideas and opinions on who you are as a candidate. This may sound daunting, but it's more beneficial for you than traditional types of interviews. 

MMI’s are becoming increasingly popular and being used in the selection process for admissions. For example, Harvard University states that: 

“it may help to think about why medical schools interview applicants. They hope to evaluate your personality, professionalism, and maturity; to hear your motivation to pursue medicine in your own spoken words; to hear how you have tested and confirmed your desire to become a clinician; to learn if you have realistic expectations of life as a physician; and to decide if you are going to be a great colleague and peer”.

This interview format was initially a research project aimed at understanding how to select medical students that would grow into ethical and competent doctors. When preparing for the MMI, it is important that you understand it as a situational judgment test (SJT). 

MMI FAQs

Here are our answers to some frequently asked questions about MMIs for medical school.

1. How should I prepare myself for the MMI?

Blackboard with "failing to prepare = prepare to fail" written on it

The MMI format is designed to test your people and critical thinking skills. Therefore, the best way to prepare is by expressing scenarios you've been through in your life - to yourself. The more practice and repetition of the scenarios you go through, the better performance you will have during the live interviews. 

You must analyze the information and develop a synthesis statement when answering questions. Students who start by answering questions with a restatement of the question do not demonstrate that they understood the question thoroughly. 

If you’re asked, “why do you want to be a doctor?” and you reply with “hmm, well… I don’t know”, that will not come off too great. You will want to know your exact reasoning for wanting to be a doctor. Ensure you have thoroughly thought your answer through before heading into the MMI.

Make sure you’re also demonstrating empathy in most, if not all, of your answers (if applicable). It is important to put yourself in the shoes of everyone involved in the scenario. 

For example, if you’re working with a partner, you can check-in and ask, “What are your views on this situation? Share with me how you see it”. One major perspective people often miss during MMI’s is the public's perception. Always make sure you have their best interest in mind. 

In addition, you should practice with practice tests and questions before heading into your MMI. Going over questions is important because it will prepare you for the MMI. Practicing with an expert MMI admissions consultant can enhance your confidence, improve your answers, understand the MMI structure and overcome your MMI anxieties. 

Practice Questions: 

  1. You are working for a clinic that deals with poor communities. A 15-year-old girl comes in to seek pain medication. After a thorough physical examination and looking through her medical history, you reach the conclusion that she doesn’t need the medication. She states she will go find another doctor to prescribe them if you don’t. What would you do?
  2. Discuss an experience in your life that allowed you to learn something important about yourself. How did this experience help you in your career? 
  3. A close colleague of yours tells you he’s thinking about dropping out of school because his dad developed lung cancer. He is feeling overwhelmed by his studies and wants to be there for his father. How do you counsel your friend? 

2. When should I start preparing for multiple med school interviews? 

On average, medical students tend to start preparing for their MMI two months before their interview. However, this varies from person to person. We recommend practicing as much as possible until you feel 100% confident in your ability to answer any question type well.

Realistically, you have been preparing for the MMI your entire life based on your accumulated life experiences. The more diverse and well-rounded your life is, the easier it may be for you. This doesn’t dismiss the fact that there is a lot to practice for when it comes to the MMI. Timing also has a crucial role to play, and you must be mentally prepared before entering your MMI. 

Building up your confidence and practicing beforehand is essential to your success. Even the most outgoing people overthink and can come across without confidence. Talk to your peers about how their MMI’s went and gain valuable tips and insights from those who have already been through the process. 

We recommend finding solutions to manage your stress before your MMI. Staying calm during the process is important. Your evaluator wants to see that your tone and body language is relaxed and professional. Routinely check in with yourself to ensure that small amounts of stress aren’t building up. 

4. How long does the interview process take? 

You’ll have between 4-8 minutes to respond to the prompt at most MMI interview stations before moving on to the next station. You will likely participate in 8-12 stations, depending on your school. Overall, it usually takes 1.5-2 hours to complete the process. 

5. Are MMI interviews hard? 

They are usually only as difficult as you perceive them to be. Applicants tend to stress about the entire process, leading them to further difficulty. If you take the time to relax and plan, you will do great! Be sure to prepare well in advance. 

6. What should I wear to my interview? 

You will want to dress and appear as professional as possible. Your  MMI is an opportunity to start a career. Therefore you should dress your best. It is also important to make sure that you are dressed comfortably in order to remain calm and collected.

7. How Long Should MMI Answers Be?

Depending on the complexity of the question, your answers can be anywhere between 45 seconds to two minutes in length. Most MMI stations are 8-10 minutes long, which should be taken into consideration during your practices. 

8. What Is An MMI Thank You Letter? 

After your MMI interview, you should send a thank you letter to your interviewer(s). Sending an MMI thank you letter will express gratitude and speak to your character as a candidate and create an opportunity further to express your interest in the medical school program. 

Thank you letters are a standard part of the medical school interviewing process. You should send your MMI thank you letter within 24 hours of your interview, and be sure to include your name and the time of your interview to remind the interviewer(s) who you are. 

MMI for Med School: Preparation Is Key

The MMI process can come off as complex and frightening, so multiple mini interview preparation is key. As long as you study and practice mock-up scenarios regularly, you will do a great job. 

It is important to go over the different types of scenarios and questions presented in this post. Practicing, staging, and going over answers to questions with a friend or spouse could greatly benefit you during preparation. 

Make sure to also manage your stress levels before entering an MMI, as this is the top reason why students make mistakes. Again, think of the process as something that is working with you rather than against you. Scholars have created this process to ensure validity and transparency. We hope this post helps you out on your MMI journey! Best of luck. 

Additional Resources: 

Harvard University: Interview Preparation & Sample Questions

Wiley Online Library: Multiple mini‐interviews: same concept, different approaches

Taylor & Francis Online: Multiple Mini-Interviews in the Age of the Internet: Does Preparation Help Applicants to Medical School?

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