The Multiple Mini-Interview (MMI): Interviewing the Speed-Dating Way

by Mia Carpiniello, Associate Director

If you’re considering applying to medical or dental schools, you’ve probably heard of the Multiple Mini-Interview (MMI). As an increasing number of schools adopt the MMI format this year, it’s important to understand the new format and be prepared if you are invited to an MMI interview.

What is the MMI?

The MMI is a health professions school interview format that originated at McMaster University’s medical school in Canada over ten years ago, and aims to more accurately predict an applicant’s future clinical performance as a physician (as compared to a traditional interview format). In the MMI format applicants respond to a series of scripted questions at timed interview stations. If you have an MMI interview, expect to rotate between 8 to 10 stations. At each station you will be given a set amount of time – usually 2 minutes – to read a passage and formulate a response. Then, you’ll be given an additional amount of time – usually 8 to 10 minutes – to respond before moving on to the next station. At each station you will encounter a different interviewer who will score you based on your response at that station.

Interviewers may be physicians, medical residents, lawyers, nurses, hospital administrators, or even patients – reflecting the interdisciplinary nature of health care teams in today’s world. The questions are designed to address specific skills, such as problem-solving, cultural competency, teamwork, empathy, professionalism, interpersonal skills, ethics, and stress management – not necessarily scientific and/or medical knowledge. Because most of the questions ask you to respond to a situation or an issue, the MMI format provides fewer opportunities for you to talk about your own application and experiences. Although, one station may be devoted to a traditional interview question, such as “why do you want to be a physician?”

For more descriptions of the MMI format and why medical schools are adopting it, take a look at this New York Times article and this article from Stanford School of Medicine.

How can I prepare?

MMI questions aim to assess applicants’ personal attributes, such as their ability to think on their feet, communicate ideas, critically appraise information, and demonstrate thoughtfulness on issues important to the medical profession.

Here are five things that you can do to prepare for an MMI interview:

  1. Practice your timing. There is a rhythm and intensity to the timed stations. Find sample MMI questions online and practice responding to several questions in a row in timed blocks to get comfortable with moving from one question to the next.
  2. Practice tackling complex scenario-type questions. Explain your reasoning for every course of action you suggest and state alternative perspectives. You want to convey that you appreciate that the scenarios pose competing interests requiring thoughtful analysis. Similarly, it is perfectly acceptable (and reasonable) to acknowledge the limitations of your own skills and knowledge. Where appropriate, acknowledge that you would need to seek advice from others – such as colleagues, legal counsel, medical ethics boards, and supervisors – as physicians often do in real practice.
  3. Read up on bioethics issues and current events in health care. You can’t predict which issues you’ll be asked about, but it will help to be well-read on hot topics in health care. Read the health and science sections of a major, national newspaper on a regular basis.
  4. Refamiliarize yourself with your application materials. You never know if you’ll also be asked a traditional interview question about your own accomplishments, ambitions and experiences.
  5. Attend a one-hour MMI Workshop.  If you have been invited to an MMI interview, this is a great opportunity to practice answering MMI interview questions in a small group setting. Alternatively, if you’d prefer an individual appointment, schedule a 30-minute one-on-one mock MMI with myself or one of our other pre-health advisors.

Most importantly, take a deep breath and try to embrace the new MMI format……even if speed-dating isn’t your thing! Many of our applicants find it fun, energizing, and thought-provoking.