In 2004, Canada’s McMaster University published a study that examined how the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) method can be used to more accurately assess candidates for medical school admission. The study found that the traditional interview format was not a reliable admissions tool because too often the interviewer was influencing the quality of the interview. Plus, it was expensive for students to fly to interviews, only to be interviewed by one or two people who may or may not provide them with a fair interview or review. By providing ten different stations, the McMaster MMI allowed students to interact with a wide range of evaluators. The scores and feedback provided by a larger number of people served as a more accurate way to review the performance of applicants. In the U.S., UCLA and UC Davis were the first medical schools to begin using this new interview format. More and more schools are adopting this method.
The basic structure of the MMI in the U.S. includes:
• An average of six to ten different stations
• A time limit at each station, as well as a time limit to prepare
• An evaluator to observe at each station
• Stations that may be held in an open area or small rooms
The stations themselves are broken down into four main types of activities:
1. Traditional Interview Questions
Most schools will have one or two stations with questions about why you want to go into medicine or what you have done to prepare yourself for a career in medicine. You can always expect to encounter these types of questions in any kind of interview.
2. Debate Questions
At the debate stations, you will be given a topic and instructions on whether you will be arguing for or against the topic assigned. Often you will be given some time to prepare and a time limit to present your argument. At the end, you will need to provide feedback on the other student’s response.
3. Team Activities
The types of team activities offered vary widely from campus to campus. Some schools have you draw a picture from verbal instructions only, other schools will have you work with another applicant to take turns building something with blocks and giving instructions. Or you will have to work as a team to create something together using blocks, nails, or even less obvious building materials such as spaghetti or marshmallows.
4. Actors and Fake Scenarios
The actors who participate in the stations will often present you with a fake situation in which you have to respond to their distress, anger, grief, or other strong emotions. The evaluator wants to see how many strategies you have in relating to others and resolving conflicts of any nature. These stations give you a chance to demonstrate how you think on your feet.
While it is difficult to know how to prepare for this type of interview, understanding why it is used and its basic structure will help you begin to strategize. This format will ensure that you are given a fair evaluation. It’s designed to help admissions boards identify the strengths that you will bring to your medical training.
Alicia McNease Nimonkar is an Accepted advisor and editor specializing in healthcare admissions. Prior to joining Accepted, Alicia worked for five years as Student Advisor at UC Davis’ postbac program where she both evaluated applications and advised students applying successfully to med school and related programs. Want Alicia to help you get accepted? Click here to get in touch!