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.

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How Penn Prepared Me for Life at IBM

by Miriam, CAS ’11

Graduating from Penn, I was sure that postgraduate life at IBM would greatly differ than my college life. While I was not flying on planes twice a week and accumulating hotel points at Penn, many aspects of my daily life at Penn helped to prepare me for IBM.

Work Hard, Play Hard
First, the “work hard play hard” Penn motto is definitely applicable to IBM. Consultants’ lives are often dependent on client demands which can mean long hours of hard work.  As Penn students, we are required to develop time management and multitasking skills. These abilities will help you manage the sometimes hectic consulting environment. While the work is demanding, the IBM culture also encourages a positive lifestyle. My team achieves this through arranging team outings ranging from dinners, to baseball games, to excursions to Cirque Du Soleil. I found Penn prepared me to be concentrated and serious when the situation called for it, and to be appropriately relaxed during social events which allows for team bonding and relationship building. This is an important aspect in building your network, and finding mentors throughout your time at IBM.

Prepared for the Unpredictable
Additionally, Penn helps to prepare you for the Consulting by Degrees (CBD) program by placing you in an atmosphere that is not always predictable. Going into a new course, you have to be willing to adapt to the teacher’s methodology, and you will similarly work to complement your project manager and team’s working style. Each professor expects you to quickly adapt to the working environment, and pick up on new skills at a rapid pace. Additionally, within every course, you are required to utilize several skills such as researching and synthesizing information and producing a work product from your analysis. These capabilities are critical in consulting. Most importantly, Penn provides you with the confidence that you have the intelligence and ability to gain skills that will allow you to develop a structured solution for a complex business problem.

How to Stand Out
While Penn provides you with an excellent background for the CBD program, there are several things you can do to stand out as a candidate. First, speak to as many IBM consultants as possible. The more you learn, the better you will know if IBM is a good fit for you. Second, practice case studies with your friends and Career Services. Excelling in the case is a great way to show that you can approach complex problems in a structured, logical manner. Third, IBM is a company that thrives on strong leadership and collaboration, so it is very important that you can demonstrate your leadership abilities. Finally, in the interview relax and be yourself, you want the interviewer to want you on their next project!

Don’t take career advice from Michael Bay

Dr. Joseph Barber

It has been a busy spring semester so far, but I have had a few evenings to relax of late now that I have completed some of my little side projects. It is also spring break at Hunter College (CUNY), where I teach a course as an adjunct assistant professor, and this has provided me with some additional free time. As I was finishing up the last of the egg-shaped chocolate around my house, I decided to catch up on one of the many films I have failed to see over the last few years. Unfortunately, I chose to watch “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen”. This is not a good film. I don’t think it even comes close to being a good film. Let me give you a brief synopsis in case you haven’t watched it, or have tried to forget watching it:

  • Boom
  • Unintelligible robots talking – not quite sure if they are good or bad
  • BOOM
  • People talking about the last big BOOM
  • Tiny piece of dialogue that might help convey meaning about what is going on – immediately interrupted by over-the-top comedic sketch (think inappropriate dog behaviour, mother getting high surrounded by students, more inappropriate robot behaviour)
  • Romantic interlude swiftly followed by – yes you guessed it
  • Clip I watched several times to glean any meaning because it seemed to be important, without understanding any of it
  • Random robots fighting – could be good or bad, I don’t think it actually matters

Don’t let Michael Bay, the director of this film, give you career advice. If he did, he might suggest filling your resume with everything you have ever done (boom, boom, boom), and would probably suggest removing some of the bullet points illustrating your skills in action because they were actually too meaningful, and would get in the way of more random information shoved it to make the resume look impressive.

If Michael Bay gave you career advice, he might suggest sending out 100 resumes in quick succession instead of really spending the time on a fewer number of resumes that are specifically tailored to the jobs you are interested in. Wait, I change my mind. Sending 100 resumes doesn’t seem extreme enough – Michael Bay would want you to send out 5000 resumes (Boooooooom!).

If Michael Bay gave you career advice, he might also advise you to answer the “tell me about yourself question” often asked in interviews in a somewhat random, unstructured, non-narrative fashion. He might add that this would keep the interviewers on their toes, preventing them from becoming bored or from focusing too much on what you were actually trying to say – you know, the plot.

Don’t listen to Michael Bay. Instead, set up an appointment at Career Services with an advisor who can give you proper advice. Yes, there are fewer booms, but that is not really a bad thing at all.

Apparently, there was also a third Transformers film (Booooooooooooooooom!). I must have missed that one. And Michael Bay has also announced that he will be directing the fourth film. I have managed to find a teaser for this new film. Are you ready for it? Here it is:


Fun in an Interview Suit

Yesterday as I walked down Locust Walk past a student group promoting an upcoming concert, one of them shouted to another passing student, “Hey! You in the suit! Come to this concert tonight. It’s more fun than OCR!” I laughed out loud at this creative sales pitch.

OCR (On-Campus Recruiting) is one of those things that “adults” would probably say is good for you. Perhaps no one would define it as “fun.” But it might actually help you get what you want. Same thing goes for wearing a suit.

How could dressing up in a suit and interviewing be more fun? We asked David Letterman for suggestions (not really), and the resulting top-ten list is as follows. (Please note, that as an “adult” I must refer you to our online interview resources and tell you that the following is not to be taken seriously!)

The Top Ten Ways to Have Fun in an Interview Suit
10. Dress up like Ben Franklin (except for the hair).
9. Select final-round candidates based on how long they can keep jumping in a moon bounce.
8. Challenge other candidates to arm wrestling to determine who gets the final second-round interview.
7. Wear a zoot suit.
6. Make every Tuesday costume day and make internship/job offers to candidates who show up in the best costume.
5. Bring your cat to the interview with you. Consider wearing matching outfits.
4. Forget that the tie you borrowed from your dad is a light-up birthday tie.
3. “Accio!” Use the summoning charm from Harry Potter to bring a job offer directly to you.
2. Wear different colored socks. Or don’t wear socks but color your ankles with markers.
And the #1 way to make interviewing more fun: Have John Cleese as your interviewer!

It’s Not What You Say, But How You Say It

If you find yourself in the throes of interview preparation….if your suit, bright smile and great handshake are in heavy rotation….as you consider full-time positions, internships, research roles, graduate or professional schools, or other opportunities…..I encourage you to take your interview prep just one step further than the standard and think not just about what you plan to say, but about HOW you will say it.

A steady pitch, pace, modulation and volume to your voice helps you to be perceived as well prepared and poised.  Working to eliminate um, uh, like, and other such filler words, while sometimes hard to completely remove, will undoubtedly help you to sound more articulate, mature and thoughtful.  Avoiding words of ambivalence, such as perhaps, maybe, and sort of, will ensure that you sound confident in your skills, your experience, and yourself.   And lastly, eradicating “uptalk” (the rising inflection at the end of a sentence, that makes statements sound like questions?), will lend a great sense of credibility to the words you are saying.

Listen carefully, and you’ll be sure to hear these little speech pitfalls all around you -especially that last one!   And if you are guilty of one of the above in your own speech, don’t despair.  It will take a little time and effort to apply these strategies to improving your own communication style, and the staff of Career Services is more than happy to help; schedule a mock interview with your career counselor, where we can give you feedback on all aspects of your self-presentation, or use our InterviewStream software to listen to and observe yourself.  Recognizing your own speech patterns, and practicing how you speak, will surely provide you with one more key to interviewing success.