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How to Prepare for a Multiple-Mini Medical School Interview (MMI)

You should first prepare for a multiple-mini interview (MMI) the same way you do any other; by researching the medical school and your application, and preparing answers to current healthcare and bioethics issues being debated publicly.

By completing those tasks, you gain the foundation needed to excel at MMI stations requiring you to analyze ethics scenarios as well as to respond to questions at a short standard-format interview station, which is a part of some MMIs.

Studying up on healthcare issues is valuable as well; doing so gets you thinking about how to approach the task of analyzing a policy or proposal, an important skill for stations that require critical thinking.

Additional steps to take to prepare for a multiple-mini interview (MMI)

Despite the similarities between MMIs and standard-format interviews, your preparation for an MMI also needs to reflect the distinct differences in the formats. Additional actions you should take before an MMI include

  • Practicing under timed conditions: The timing for an MMI is much more stringent than for a traditional interview. A traditional interview has no per-question time limit, whereas during an MMI, each station is strictly timed.

    After two minutes of reading the prompt and thinking, you must be ready to enter the room and tackle the task at hand during the next six to eight minutes. To succeed on an MMI, you need to be able to analyze a prompt and develop a mental outline for your response within the typical two-minute time limit.

    To get used to operating under such parameters, practice under timed conditions, using sample scenarios that are sometimes provided by schools for interviewees or that can be found online. Team up with a partner to practice, and switch off being in the interviewee and rater roles.

    During your practice sessions, make sure you stop the station when the timer sounds, whether you feel you’re done with your answer or not.

  • Developing a strategy for role-playing stations: Although you can’t predict the exact role-playing scenarios you’ll face, you can still fine- tune your communication skills and develop general approaches to use during role-playing scenarios by thinking through some potential situations you may face.

    For example, if you’re given the task of speaking to someone about a problem they’re confronting, you first need to consider how you’d begin the conversation. After that, what questions would you ask to gather information about the situation? How would you convey empathy for the person’s situation or react if he became angry or upset? How would you suggest solutions or next steps to take in resolving the problem?

    Running through a few scenarios helps you understand the challenges you may confront during these stations and how to best overcome them.

During an MMI, you may encounter an interviewer who becomes confrontational or challenges your opinion. Stay calm and use reason rather than emotion to respond the situation; remember, one of the skills that MMIs in particular assess is conflict resolution.

Schools keep their MMI stations under wraps, often requiring interviewees to sign an agreement not to disclose details about the MMI, which makes finding practice stations challenging. However, your focus should primarily be on general approaches to station types rather than on specific scenarios.

Success on an MMI relies more on your ability to communicate, think critically, and problem solve than on your knowledge of the particular topic raised or task to be performed.

Because a good performance during an MMI requires skills and characteristics developed over the long term, this type of interview is generally more difficult to prepare for than a standard-format interview. However, by familiarizing yourself with this format and thinking about how you’d handle different station types you may encounter, you’ll feel more comfortable when the buzzer sounds and the first round begins.

Here are some example MMI stations you can use to practice with.

An example of a role-playing multiple-mini interview (MMI) station

You are a supervisor at your place of employment. You have been informed that two employees in your group, Madeline and Andrew, do not get along, yet they need to work together as part of a team for many projects. You have arranged a meeting with Madeline to discuss the situation. She is waiting inside the room.

An example of a teamwork multiple-mini interview (MMI) station

You and another applicant will be working together to perform a task. You will be provided with a sketch; the other applicant will not have a copy of the sketch. Using verbal communication only, describe to the other applicant how to draw the sketch. During this station, you and the other applicant will be seated so that you are unable to see one another.

An example of an ethical scenario/critical thinking MMI station

You are a physician. An elderly patient under your care has been suffering from weakness, and tests determine that the cause of his symptoms is a progressive neurological disease for which there is no effective treatment and that is ultimately fatal. At the patient’s request, you discuss the outcome of the diagnostic tests with his family first, before you talk to the patient about them.

During your discussion with the family, family members state that they do not want the patient to be told the diagnosis. They say the family has recently emigrated from another country and that in their country of origin, it is common for a serious diagnosis to be withheld from a patient, especially if he is elderly, in order to avoid upsetting him.

  • What ethical issues are raised by this situation?

  • What steps would you take to address this situation?

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