Medical MMI Interview: The Definitive Guide

The complete guide to Multiple-Mini Interviews (MMIs). We cover, what are MMIs? Why are MMIs used? What is the format of an MMI? How should you prepare for your MMI? and our top tips. Read on to start improving your MMI confidence.

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Hello and welcome to the 6med Multiple-Mini-Interview (MMI) guide.

The focus of this article is on the final challenge that certain medical schools will pose: Multiple-Mini Interviews. We cover, what are MMIs? Why are MMIs used? What is the format of an MMI? How should you prepare for your MMI? and our top tips.

Let’s get started. 

What are Multiple-Mini-Interviews (MMIs)?

The Multiple-Mini Interview can be a stressful process for some students. However, after you read this, we hope you will prepare appropriately and feel excited rather than anxious on the day. If you google ‘what is a Multiple-Mini Interview?’, you will probably get an answer like this:

MMI Definition

‘A Multiple-Mini Interview (MMI) is when a prospective medical student is faced with multiple stations lasting approximately 5-8 minutes. These will contain their own interviewer (and sometimes actor/medical student) and aim for you to demonstrate particular skills that show you are suited for medical school and life afterwards.’

The process is quite intimidating, but with the right preparation and mindset, MMIs are very manageable and you will be a hit.

SUMMARY CHECK

  • MMI = multiple 5-8 minute stations.
  • Each station will represent a particular skill(s) for you to demonstrate.
  • Each station will have one interviewer at the very least.
  • Often there is no right or wrong answer, it is how you demonstrate your thinking and how you convey the message.

Why are MMIs used?

Many moons ago, we took a broader look at this process; we searched for the reasons MMIs were introduced.

It was shown that traditional interviews were not accurate at predicting student outcomes at medical school and that most patient complaints were a result of “soft” skills such as communication, professionalism, ethical and moral judgements.

As a prospective medical student, it is vital to display your interest and passion to pursue Medicine. Your grades, admissions test and personal statement will be the indicator of whether you have the aptitude to process the quantity of information medical school will throw at you.

The interview is to assess YOU AS A PERSON; each interviewer wants to see how you react under pressure rather than what information you know. We cannot stress this enough!

As a prospective medical student, it is vital to display your interest and passion to pursue Medicine. Your grades, admissions test and personal statement will be the indicator of whether you have the aptitude to process the quantity of information medical school will throw at you.

SUMMARY CHECK

  • MMIs were brought in as a way of reducing patient complaints by identifying students that have the right attitude and skills.
  • To get to the interview stage, the university already likes your grades and Personal Statement; now it is time to showcase who you are as a person.

What is the format of an MMI interview?

The format is fast-paced and the MMI process typically takes around two hours (trust us, you don’t notice this time, it soars by). To understand a typical circuit, we want you to visualise the following pathway:

You are ushered into a room with 11 other candidates and allocated a vignette on a chair (or it may be stuck up on the outside of a makeshift cubicle). As you walk up to the vignette, you are focussing on diaphragmatic breathing at a slow controlled rate, your thoughts are calm – but your heart is racing. A voice calls out:

  • You have two minutes to read the vignette
  • When you hear the bell, step inside the cubicle
  • When you hear the next bell, you have two minutes remaining
  • The final bell will be rung and a voice says move to the next station.

This process will repeat itself as you move through each station, and before you know it, the day is finished. You are filled with relief as you realise it was not that bad because you prepared as best as you could (and you read this blog too).

MMIs vs Panel Interviews 

MMIs differ to traditional panel interviews. Those you might experience applying to universities like Oxford or Cambridge. The panel interview does what it says on the tin: you enter a room with a table separating you from some people who want to know more about you.

There are similarities between these two formats.

  • They can both ask similar questions to find out what makes you tick, for example; “why do you want to do Medicine?”; “What work experience do you have?”; “What personality traits do you have which you think will make you a good doctor?”.
  • They’ll also ask about ethical, current affairs, or NHS-related questions.

MMIs can test more practical skills through Role Playing, Data Analysis (it is not as scary as it sounds, we promise), group discussions, or Critical Thinking just to name a few. You will have many stations to move through to get to the finish line. These stations do not link in any way. If you leave one scenario and think, ‘well that sucked’, that is perfectly okay! We are only human and sometimes we slip up. The previous station has no influence on your next one.

The stations vary from university to university in terms of length, number, and people present. We would advise finding out how many stations there are at the medical schools you want to apply to (some do tell you in the interview letter).

Each station assesses a different skill/quality that the medical school wants its students to show. These can be broadly categorised into:

Let’s take a look at some example MMI scenarios. 

Common MMI Scenarios

Communication Scenarios

We’ve made this a broad category because, ultimately, a lot of what these medical schools are testing boils down to having strong communication skills. MMIs are notorious for having students do role-plays where you have to interact with an actor. This is standard stuff – you’ll do plenty more of it when you get to medical school.

Candidates are evaluated on their ability to show tact, empathy, compassion, self-awareness, and an ability to listen. The kinds of scenarios that demand good communication are wide-ranging: from breaking bad news to a family or telling somebody they have cancer, to explaining the UK laws on euthanasia to a care home manager.

Ethical Reasoning and Professionalism

You’ll probably know that you’ll be expected to have a decent grasp on the common medical ethics themes – this will be tested in various ways in an MMI and most likely as a role-play or an explanation of an ethical situation to an interviewer. You’ll be expected to show you understand all sides of an issue, as well as make decisions whilst examining issues from multiple perspectives. 

Similar to the situational judgment test for the UCAT, you should be able to distinguish the most appropriate course of action in certain situations, especially in the clinical environment – for example, you may be put with an actor who plays a stranger who claims he needs the details of a patient in hospital, and you’ll have to decide whether to give him the details or not and explain why. You’re going to be expected to act in accordance with professional codes of conduct, so being aware of these is important.

Heath care knowledge, role of the doctor and current affairs

 The NHS is something of a national treasure for some, and a breeding ground for hostility in others. Either way, interviewers expect you have a good grasp of the future organization you’ll be working for: what the NHS does; how it’s structured; its history; and the issues that it has met in the past, as well as current concerns. Alongside this, you’re expected to understand the role of the doctor – especially, the key qualities and duties of a doctor

You should also be up to date with key health news – for example, the COVID-19 pandemic, or the researcher who used olfactory bulb stem cells in the spinal cord to restore some movement to a patient, and through encouraging regeneration in the CNS.

Critical thinking and data interpretation

Some medical schools want to test how well you can work under pressure and will do this by giving you a problem-solving task. You could be presented with a piece of writing and be asked to evaluate it – you must be able to articulate all sides of an issue and think critically, identifying all the implications and people involved. 

Data interpretations tasks are usually relatively simple, and if you need to do maths for anything, it should only be a level expected for the UCAT. Brush up on basic data interpretation and GCSE maths if you find this is to be one of your weaker areas.

Standard interview questions

These are the kind of questions most candidates are expecting when they think of a medical school interview, and you can potentially be asked any of the questions you’ll get for a semi-structured interview. Surprisingly though, these don’t always come up and it really depends on the interviewer or medical school. You should always have a good response for questions such as, ‘Why do you want to be a doctor?’, ‘Why apply to this medical school?’ or ‘What can you bring to this medical school?’. 

For common questions like these that are related to the medical school, it’s important your answer to the question is linked to the goals of the medical school. Often, medical schools don’t want to just produce doctors for the NHS, they want to produce ‘critical scientific thinkers’ or ‘adaptable professionals’ or something like that. You need to demonstrate that you want to be an outstanding doctor, who will be a lifelong learner and a great innovator. You can achieve this by connecting what you’ve accomplished in the past (e.g. fantastic grades and passion for your subjects) to what you’re aiming for in the future.

How do they score you?

This is the bit that every medical student all over the world wants to know!

  • Do they write down every little detail of my answer on the mark sheet afterwards?
  • Do they only write down the things they think you said that were dumb?
  • Oh my goodness, what if the interview did not like your tie, would he write that down?

These were some of the thoughts we had when we were preparing for our MMIs. So, let us bust these myths for you now. After speaking with several examiners, a few things became clear.

Firstly, after about 10 students (this was a mean, some said less) examiners say they switched off once they know the student is on the right track within the interview.

So, make that your first interaction count!

Have a good structure that introduces the topic, give your big picture answer before they put you on mute and then focus on the details of the station.

Speak at a good pace so they can follow and, if they interact with you in the station, make sure you have practised those active listening skills too.

Two, their marking scheme is extremely vague.

It varies across different medical schools but, as a rule of thumb, it will have a list of four to five skills and behaviours that you are meant to perform in the station with the ratings of excellent (4), good (3), satisfactory (2) and un-satisfactory (1) – this limits the amount of detail interviewers can give and shows that it is not about the nitty-gritty points in your answer.

The interviewers use the short gap between stations to fill this sheet out and that prevents them from going into detail even more.

All of this works in your favour!

The examiners are trying to get an impression of you, there are multiple stations to see how that impression adds up and if this global score gives you the go-ahead to enter medical school. If you have the balance of good communication skills and a structure, even if you say something incorrect (there are often no right or wrong answers), you will score highly!

SUMMARY CHECK

  • Practice your first impression. For example, you could practice how to say hello with a warm smile.
  • The marking scheme is vague and broad, it balances your communication skills with the content you provide.

How should you prepare for your MMIs?

Little and often is usually a good preparation mantra and definitely holds up when preparing for MMIs. This process would begin by mapping out all the station categories and scope out each topic using Google to find common questions.

Of course, we’ve also got a ton of content for you on 6med if you’d prefer to get straight to the point. Once you’ve created your question bank, you can get into the practice.

Spend 30 minutes a day targeting two different stations. You can either practice in front of your computer and record yourself, or ask a family member to simulate an interviewer and time your answers.

After receiving an interview letter (and having a little celebratory pizza for getting an interview because you should celebrate these things, it is an amazing achievement that they want to meet you to make sure they can take you on board!) you should increase this to an hour a day.

Remember it is about being efficient with your time, each station will be between 5-8 minutes so you can get through a lot of content in 30 minutes to an hour. Get your school (or friends if you know others applying) to help with your practice and organise lunchtime or after school mock MMIs.

The more circuits you do the more comfortable you will be on the day.

SUMMARY CHECK

  • Practice short but often once you have built a question bank.
  • Organise mock MMI circuits, get a routine and feel comfortable.
  • Book yourself onto the 6med MMI crash course for the final touches.

MMI Top Tips

1

Have a game plan

  1. Make your question bank.
  2. Note down what you would look for as an interviewer.
  3. Make answer structures that are flexible and are in your own words.

2

Build rapport

Remember their marking sheets are broad and focus on their interaction with you, as well as your answer.

3

Be well-read

  1. Know your personal statement backwards and make sure you can talk about everything you mentioned within it!
  2. The medical school do not want to be catfished!
  3. Current affairs and the NHS are very topical in these situations. You do not need to know the nuts and bolts of everything, have a broad overview of things that interest you and be able to discuss them.

4

Practice circuits

  1. Make a routine that you can use which can calm nerves (do what works for you – for us it was deep diaphragmatic breathing, getting a perspective of the bigger picture and making a good first impression).
  2. Make sure your communication skills are tip-top (it is not rocket science we promise, be your lovely self).
  3. This will keep you sharp and ready for game day so make sure you practice to time.

5

THEY WANT YOU TO GO TO THE MEDICAL SCHOOL!

You have received the chance to take part in the interview process because the medical school believe on paper you are a potential candidate! They want you to excel at the interview stage and are looking for reasons to make it official! Follow the signs and go with the flow!

6

Try and have fun!

You think we’re crazy for saying this… but they are good fun. If you prepare similarly to how we have described, there is a greater chance of you being a superstar in the interview.

We hope this has given you an idea of what areas may come up during your MMIs. As MMIs are very different from the traditional panel interview, preparation is key to help you understand what might come up and how to perform well at each station. 

Our MMI preparation makes sure you are among the best and most memorable candidates.

Our Interview Bundle gives you access to everything 6MED have to offer to help you with your Medical interview. You’ll get access to the most effective courses available for standard interviews (more about technique) and MMI (all about the practice with mock interviews!). You will also have a place on our Interview Online Course, as well as receive our highly rated Interview workbook. Click the button below to become an interview pro.

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