Everyone knows the process for getting into medical school is challenging and rigorous. The journey begins by taking the required coursework during your undergraduate studies. Then, you fill out your primary application(s): AMCAS, TMDSAS and/or AACOMAS. You cross your fingers for secondary applications. And then you hope on hope that you’ll get an interview.
There are two different kinds of medical school interviews: the traditional interview and the Multiple Mini Interview, more commonly known as the MMI. You can read all about the traditional interview format here. In this article, we’ll be discussing the MMI interview and some of the MMI questions that you can anticipate.
The Multiple Mini Interview format has revolutionized the interview process. It’s nothing like the traditional interview. You aren’t blindly answering questions one after another with no time to think.
The Format of the MMI Interview
Instead, the multiple mini interview consists of a series of “stations.” There are at least six stations, but no more than 10. At each station, you’ll be asked a question. Then, you’ll have two minutes to think about your answer to the question. Finally, the interviewer will join you and discuss your answer to the question. You’ll talk with the interviewer for eight minutes. The full interview will last up to an hour.
You’ll be asked a variety of questions, designed to test you in the following areas:
- Critical thinking
To evaluate you in those areas, you’ll be asked questions in the following categories:
- Ethical scenarios
- Character development
When you enter each interview room, you’ll be faced with one of two scenarios: acting vs. non-acting. A non-acting interview is where your interviewer is acting as the interviewer. You’re having a discussion with them about the question. In an acting interview, you’ll be talking to an interviewer who is pretending to be the patient who is the focus of the question.
Here’s an example.
Roger has dementia. Before he got sick, his wife asked him whether he wanted to sign a DNR. Roger said no. He wanted to live for as long as possible to see his grandchildren grow up. Roger now has leukemia on top of dementia. He is miserable and in pain and wants to die. He now insists that he wants a DNR. One of his doctors thinks he has the cognitive function to make this decision, while the other doesn’t. You’re the doctor who breaks the tie. Is he cognitively capable of making this decision for himself? Or should Roger be denied his DNR and be kept alive by artificial means if necessary?
If the interview is the non-acting kind, then you’ll simply discuss your answer with the interviewer. If the interview is acting, then you’ll talk with the interviewer as if they were Roger. Instead of talking about his case, you’ll talk to him. You’ll try to assess whether he has the cognitive function to sign a DNR.
Both interview formats work. They require different thought processes and techniques. You can expect to answer at least one question with each format. In other words, it’s highly unlikely that you would be asked all non-acting or all acting questions.
Ethical scenarios are tough to face. You can deal with conflicting moral dilemmas and extremely stressful situations. The good news is that your interviewer cares far more about how you respond than what your response is. The interviewer will consider your answer through the following lenses:
- Do your answers show thoughtfulness and consideration?
- Did you ask questions? Did you consider hypothetical situations?
- Are you calm or are you high-strung? Nervous or poised?
- Were you all over the place, or did you have a method for how you answered the questions?
Before you enter the interview room, analyze the question with the following questions:
- What are the most important parts of the question?
- What is the problem that needs to be solved?
Then, once you’re in the room with your interviewer, focus on the most important parts of the question and on solving the problem contained in the question. There isn’t a “perfect” way to interview, but this method will help you successfully get through that mini interview.
Character Development Questions
These questions will feel more familiar because they’re asked in traditional interviews as well. You’ll be asked questions like, “Tell us about a time when you made a mistake and what you learned from it.” “How do you handle confrontation?” “What is your biggest strength?” and “What is your biggest weakness?”
You have two full minutes to think about your answer. That’s enough time to draw on a real-life experience that you’ve been through. Anyone can give a generic answer. The admissions committee is looking for something deeper.
Working as a team is a crucial part of being a doctor. You’ll have PAs, CNAs, nurses and other staff to work with in a medical setting. For everything to run smoothly, everyone needs to work together.
The teamwork section of the MMI interview is a bit different from the ethical and character development sections. Instead of the usual MMI questions, you’ll complete a task. And while the other questions will be just you and the interviewer, you’ll either be alone or working with another interviewee for this part.
The task you’re given to complete will be an ordinary one, but with a twist. For instance, you could have a Jenga game to play, but the rules could be different. It might be your job to help the other interviewee instead of being the winner.
Or, you might be given a photo to recreate. But there’s a twist. Only one of you can see the photo. The other person must follow your verbal instructions to recreate what’s in the photo.
Whatever task you’re given will be a challenge, but it won’t be anything unreasonable or unrealistic. Don’t panic if you feel like you’re running out of time. The point is to work together as a team to complete the project. Your teamwork is more important than the finished product.
It might be easier to complete the project by yourself while your teammate stands by idly, watching you. Don’t fall into that trap! You will have entirely missed the point, and that won’t look good to the admissions committee.
After you’ve worked with your teammate, the interviewer will ask you questions about how you and your teammate worked together. It’s important to take responsibility for your actions and positively speak about your experience together. If there were any mistakes, take responsibility for it, even if it was the other person’s fault. Doing so demonstrates your ability to work well with others and “take one for the team” if you ever need to — which you likely will at some point in your medical career.
MMI vs. Traditional Interview
So, now that you understand how the MMI interview process and MMI questions work, let’s compare it to the traditional interview. Why use the MMI interview when the traditional interview has successfully worked for many years? Duke University and UTA Dell Medical School are among the schools that utilize the MMI interview and MMI questions format, and there are several reasons for it.
- You’ll have a different interviewer for each question. When the admissions committee decides whether to accept you, it will be based on the thoughts and impressions of all the interviewers, not just one.
- You won’t have to rely on having good chemistry with the interviewer. Every medical school candidate gets nervous that they won’t get in because their interviewer might not like them.
- The traditional medical school interviewer can go in any direction. Kansas University School of Medicine student Mekinzee Elliott spent a good part of her interview talking about her experiences working as a Shift Lead at Smoothie King. As cool as that is, that conversation wouldn’t last for more than a few minutes during an MMI interview.
- The MMI interview and MMI questions examine how you respond to situations. The traditional interview only focuses on what your response is.
Pros of the MMI Interview Process
Here are some of the reasons why you should look forward to your MMI interview if this is the format with which you’re being interviewed.
- You’ll have the opportunity to make a good “first impression” with each interviewer. If you stutter or stumble with one interviewer, you can take a deep breath because you have at least five other interviewers.
- You get to breathe for a few minutes between each interview. It’s okay to shake off your nerves!
- If you make a good impression with every interviewer, then you have a really good chance of getting accepted!
Cons of the MMI Interview Process
Here are a few things to keep in mind for your MMI interview. Knowing these cons will help you avoid the “worst-case scenario” types of interview moments.
- The MMI interview is very fast paced. You have a few minutes to think about each answer before discussing it with the interviewer. But you move quickly from station to station.
- The MMI interview isn’t a conversation. You can’t flow from one topic to another. Each person with whom you speak will be like the beginning of every interview. Your nerves might not have a chance to die down because you can’t get comfortable.
- You could make a bad impression with every single interviewer, which would blow your chance of getting into that school.
Preparing for Your MMI Interview
Preparing for your MMI interview will be different from preparing for a traditional interview. You can’t just sit down with a friend and pretend that they’re interviewing you.
But it’s still very possible to prepare for and succeed at an MMI interview. How? You might ask. There are two ways. The first is to set up a mock interview with friends, family, or fellow undergrad students. The second way is through med school admissions consulting with IMA.
We prepare medical school candidates for both MMI and traditional interviews. We’ll provide you with feedback throughout the mock interview process to help prepare you for the real deal. Check out this page for more information on our med school admissions consulting.
Good luck in applying to medical school. We have firsthand experience, so we know how challenging of a time this can be. But it is worth the challenge. Medical school will help you grow and learn in ways you don’t anticipate, and being a doctor will be a special, rewarding experience. Remember that IMA is here to help you through our med school admissions consulting should you need help at any point along the way.
Now, go rock those interviews!
Not sure where to apply to medical school? There are a ton of medical schools out there. Check out our growing list of schools that we’ve covered as part of our definitive series to getting into medical school.
- The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley School of Medicine
- UNT Texas College of Osteopathic Medicine
- University of Houston College of Medicine
- Texas A&M College of Medicine
- Johns Hopkins Medical School
- Baylor College of Medicine
- George Washington University School of Medicine
- Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
- St. George’s University School of Medicine
- Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (in Pennsylvania)
- Sidney Kimmel Medical College at Thomas Jefferson University
- Wake Forest University School of Medicine
- Western University of Health Sciences (in California)
- Drexel University College of Medicine
- Stritch School of Medicine at Loyola University Chicago
- Georgetown University School of Medicine
- Yale School of Medicine
- Perelman School of Medicine
- UCLA Medical School
- NYU Medical School
- Washington University School of Medicine
- Brown Medical School