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MAR 09, 2020 • 17 min read
You made it to the final step in the gruelling medical school admissions process.
Getting to the interview stage is a huge accomplishment, because it means you’ve achieved a high enough ATAR or GPA and you have aced the entrance exam (be it UCAT or GAMSAT) – both huge accomplishments in themselves!
An interview offer is a definite cause for celebration, but don’t let it go to your head, because you’ve still got a big task in front of you.
On paper, you look great! Now the university admissions officers want to make sure you match this image in person before they accept you.
The way they do this is with an interview. Or in most cases, interviews… of the mini variety.
You know exactly what I’m talking about: Multiple Mini Interviews
Those three words are enough to send chills down any prospective med student’s spine. But fear not, (future) doc. MedView are the MMI masters, and we are here to share our pearls of medical interview wisdom.
Alright then, let’s get you that spot in medical school!
First, a bit of background.
Multiple Mini Interviews, or MMI, is a style of interviewing that is used at The University of Auckland in New Zealand and most Australian medical schools.
It’s pretty self-explanatory, but basically, instead of having one long traditional panel interview, you have lots of little ones with different panels!
Depending on the university, you will rotate around six to 10 timed “stations”.
To succeed, you need to be prepared, and now that you’ve found this blog, you will be.
Not all universities make you sit an interview as part of the admissions process, but the majority do use the MMI system.
Why is the MMI so popular? It’s because it is a fair and reliable way for them to assess your suitability to practice medicine.
Involving more interviewers eliminates bias and gives the university a broader, more holistic evaluation of your non-academic qualities.
The idea of having to sit multiple interviews can be intimidating, but there’s no need to be scared! The MMI has advantages for you, too.
In a traditional panel interview, which used to be the norm, you had just one shot to impress the interviewers, making it almost impossible to recover if you got off on the wrong foot.
In the MMI, however, you are given the opportunity to make multiple fresh starts. One station’s weighting is only a fraction of your total score, so you can still do well if you take any missteps in your stride and focus on acing your remaining interviews.
The following universities are advocates for the MMI:
You’re off the hook if you’re applying to any of the following universities that don’t require an interview for admission into medicine:
And then there are a few universities that use a different style of interviewing to assess applicants:
The MMI assesses you on a range of skills and aptitudes with a mix of interview stations and activity-based stations.
At each station, applicants are presented with a specific question, task or scenario and they are judged on their answers, reactions and skills.
There’s a time limit for each interview station, which ranges from five to 10 minutes, depending on the university.
Usually, two of those minutes are allocated to reading time, where you will be able to read the station’s scenario. The remaining six to eight minutes are dedicated to interview time and when time’s up, you are required to move on.
While the MMI does look holistically at your potential to be a medical professional, it is important to remember that there are also key traits that the stations assess you on.
Don’t worry, you won’t be assessed on all of these traits at once. Every station will have its own set of attributes that the interviewer is looking out for.
For example, interviewers at the station that focuses on your interest in medicine will look for self-awareness, critical thinking, and an insight into your choice of profession.
Now before we get into MMI prep, let’s take a look at the interview subject, which fall into five categories:
Why do you want to be a doctor?
Bet you’ve heard that one before! Medicine is definitely not for the fainthearted (or squeamish!).
So what is it that draws you to this profession? What need does it fulfil? What do you want to achieve in the medical field? Try explaining that in five minutes while sounding genuine, informed, intelligent, and motivated!
You also need to be prepared to back up your statements with follow up questions that will gauge how much you’ve actually thought about this major life decision.
Leadership and teamwork are crucial elements of practice in the medical profession.
As a doctor, you’ll play a key leadership role that involves problem solving, decision making, and coordinating the efforts of others.
You must also be committed to continuous growth and learning to ensure you’re delivering the highest standard of care to your patients, and that’s where self-awareness comes in.
The interviewers are interested in your ability to demonstrate your potential to be a leader and your commitment to personal development.
They’ll probably also ask you about your weaknesses, so it’s important to be able to reflect on your experiences with maturity and critical thinking to identify where you might need some improvement.
It’s inevitable that you’ll face some moral grey areas as a doctor, and when you do, you’ll likely have to make a tough decision and deal with the consequences – good or bad.
A key skill is the ability to form a strong opinion before making a measured decision – and most universities will have a station or two to test just that!
These stations present you with an ethical scenario and ask you what you would do in that situation. The scenario may specify that you are a doctor, a medical student, or just yourself, and the situation can be as simple as a friend in need or perhaps a doctor/patient interaction.
Being culturally sensitive is of utmost importance to doctors. These stations test your understanding of the significance of ethnicity in a health context.
In Australia, questions will focus on Indigenous or rural health, while at The University of Auckland, at least one question will have an ethnicity and/or Maori focus.
Assessors are looking to see that you understand the background, cultural practices, and significance of ethnic groups in your country, as well as your ability to empathise.
These stations are also designed to test your understanding of public health issues in Australia or New Zealand.
You’re expected to demonstrate insight into the issues and this is impossible without some background knowledge. So get reading and keep up with the news!
Some universities will have a station dedicated to practical exercises.
You’re not a doctor yet, so you won’t be asked to act out medical diagnoses or treatment of medical problems. Instead, you will be asked to carry out somewhat trivial practical tasks which are used to assess skills such as verbal communication, manual dexterity, problem solving, and most of all… patience!
Often this will involve giving instructions to the interviewers and having them complete a task, such as origami folding, rope tying, or arranging blocks.
You won’t necessarily be judged on the outcome. They just want to see how your mind works and how you reach solutions.
This might sound silly, but if you come across one of these stations unexpectedly it can be seriously intimidating!
Without a doubt, preparing for the MMI is a considerable undertaking.
Then again, nothing about getting into medical school is easy.
The good news is that, like the UCAT and GAMSAT, there’s an effective and systematic way to prepare for the MMI using some tried and tested techniques, worked examples, and practice questions.
The structured nature of the MMI makes it easier to prepare for than an open-ended interview.
There are three strategies that will set you up for success in the MMI:
The best way to prepare for the MMI is by answering practice questions.
However, it is important that you don’t memorise word for word your answers to questions. The interviewers do not want to hear recited, clichéd responses – and you will probably struggle to make any prepared responses “fit”.
The best way to use practice questions is with cue cards.
For every question you come across, think of two or three key points that you want to talk about. For each of these main points, have some topics and examples ready to explain or support that point.
Question: “What problems do you foresee being a doctor?”
A couple of prompts you could write on your cue cards include:
Then, practise elaborating on these points in timed conditions until you feel comfortable with your delivery. By not writing your answers out word for word, you won’t come across as too rehearsed.
A broad vocabulary will add weight to your answers and ensure you sound impressive.
Write down a list of words and practise using them daily. Include positive action words as well as some basic medical lingo.
Some “buzzwords” that will score you points in your interviews include:
You also want to practise using some “action” words, such as:
The best way to build confidence in any area is to practise, practise, practise!
If you’re subject to a bit of stage fright, you will need to work on building skills in this area. The last thing you want is nerves ruining all your hard work.
The good news is that confidence is developed, not inherited! But you will need to put some time into it.
To prepare yourself for the MMI, practice under timed conditions so there are no surprises on interview day. You can read our top tips and tricks and even practice in MMI conditions, check out our MMI prep offerings for the most up to date information.
Make sure you practise with friends and family, too, as they will offer you honest feedback and (hopefully!) encouragement. Bonus points if you do it under timed MMI-style conditions!
Practise and preparation are key. Give yourself the chance at success by following these steps. Get in touch with an Academic Advisor to learn more about how MedView can help, or check out our latest MMI offerings here.
Make use of this preparation guide to carefully prepare for each different category of interview station, and you can’t go wrong.
Just remember that you have only got a small window of time in each interview, so you can’t afford to waffle or go off on tangents. Your answers need to be direct and concise, and that’s something you can master with practice.
You’ve made it this far, now get ready to smash the MMI and achieve that medical school dream!