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01 Jul

Something to ponder: Does personality style affect success on the multiple mini interview (MMI)?

Applicant and interviewer begin the MMI station

There can be no doubt that the best physicians out there have personality styles of all types. This leads to an interesting question, do applicants with one particular personality style tend to fare better than others on the MMI?

Introverted versus Extroverted

It is one of the parts of the application process that students fear most – the multiple mini interview. Over the years there have been rumors among applicants that the MMI seems to favor some types of students over others, but exactly what is likely to make a student fare better is subject to debate. It's hard to quantify exactly what is meant by the exclamation "I'm sure that guy would do great on the interview." With that said, a paper published in Academic Medicine in September 2012 by researchers from UC Davis School of Medicine investigated how introverted versus extroverted personality styles did on the the MMI. What they found was the students with an extroverted personality style were statistically more likely to have significantly higher MMI scores. This begs the question as to whether or not more extroverted students would necessarily develop into better doctors. If not, the authors warn, then perhaps the MMI interview is restricting diversity in terms of what sorts of folks get into medical school.

This is a rather alarming sentiment, does this mean we should throw the MMI out the window? Probably not. There are other research papers that demonstrate the effectiveness of the MMI as a selection modality. Also published in Academic Medicine, in 2004, researchers investigated the feasibility, acceptability and reliability of the multiple mini interview. They found that it was significantly more effective at predicting preclerkship performance relative to traditional methods of assessment. So, it would appear that the MMI may slightly favor those who are the outgoing social types, but ultimately the MMI also seems to be a good tool for selecting applicants. It is an interesting question as to whether or not the quiet types are really at a disadvantage. And if they are, whether it is a justifiable disadvantage. Really, it depends on what characteristics make the best doctor. It seems reasonable that people might prefer either an extroverted or introverted doctor. And perhaps that doctor's specialty is better matched to a certain personality style. Clearly, this is an interesting debate to consider in a time where the MMI is becoming more and more popular.

References

1. Does Applicant Personality Influence Multiple Mini-Interview Performance and Medical School Acceptance Offers?. Academic Medicine. 87(9):1250-1259, September 2012. Jerant, Anthony MD; Griffin, Erin PhD; Rainwater, Julie PhD; Henderson, Mark MD; Sousa, Francis MD; Bertakis, Klea D. MD, MPH; Fenton, Joshua J. MD, MPH; Franks, Peter MD.

2. The Ability of the Multiple Mini-Interview to Predict Preclerkship Performance in Medical School. Academic Medicine. Research in Medical Education Proceedings of the Forty-Third Annual Conference November 7-10, 2004. 79(10) (Supplement):S40-S42, October 2004. Eva, Kevin W.; Reiter, Harold I.; Rosenfeld, Jack; Norman, Geoffrey R.