Physicians are required to think on their feet. The multiple mini-interview (MMI) format of medical school admissions interviews requires the same skill.
Though most medical schools still rely on traditional interviews, the MMI format is growing in popularity, with more medical schools screening applicants with a hybrid of traditional interviews and MMIs.
The MMI is a series of six to 10 interviews conducted at different stations over a two-hour time frame. From an institutional vantage point, the goal of the MMI is to remove bias from the interview process and allow for more opinions on applicants.
Jorge Girotti, PhD, is a research assistant professor and the former associate dean for admissions and special curricular programs at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Chicago (UIC). In addition to his work at UIC, which is using the MMI with its 2020 class, he has consulted for institutions that have implemented the MMI.
The aim, he said, is to have each medical school applicant “go through the same stations and be assessed on the same scenarios.”
Here are a few tips about the MMI offered by Girotti and a recent medical student who went through the MMI.
It’s not about being right
In an MMI, questions are going to open a variety of avenues for the applicant to pursue.
“The questions are meant to be open-ended,” Girotti said. “One of the first things we tell interviewers is the scenarios don’t necessarily have a right answer. The purpose is to see how well a person puts an answer together. Is it logical? Does it have a beginning, middle and end?”
Draw on your experiences
You don’t have much time to gather your answers, but the time you do have should be focused on drawing from real-life examples that may apply to the question.
“The way that candidates put their thoughts together in the limited time frame, the notions of genuineness and depth, apply in the MMI setting,” Girotti said. “If you can put together lessons you have learned, that answer will resonate more with those who are evaluating you.”
Clinical knowledge isn’t expected
“Even if you have the most wonderful clinical volunteer exposure, you are coming to medical school to learn to be a clinician,” Girotti said. Taking that into account, MMI questions aren’t going to deal with anatomy or immunology.
Instead, Girotti adds that questions “pertain to issues of teamwork, leadership skills, some relate to day-to-day situations that arise in college.” Ethical challenges and academic dishonesty—that is, cheating—also may be on the docket.
“These are things most college students can relate to,” Girotti said.
Confidence can matter
If you’ve made it to the interview stage of your candidacy, a medical school is expressing interest in you. That should buoy your confidence.
Now pursuing a master’s degree in health care administration before beginning residency, Avani Patel experienced the MMI format when she interviewed for medical schools.
“As a future physician, you need to be confident in yourself, your ability and your training,” said Patel, who will graduate from the University of Mississippi School of Medicine in Jackson this spring. “I believe they were looking for someone who holds strong and who understands that what you would do for yourself is what you would do for somebody else.”
That confidence should also translate to body language such as body position and facial expression.
“Nonverbal is part of human communication,” Girotti said.