Medical School Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) Interview

About the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI)

Medical School Interviews
The Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) or Carousel Interview is a new style of interview, validated by peer-reviewed research that evaluates applicants by having them spend a short period of time (e.g. 6 to 12 minutes) with various different interviewers. The MMI was originally developed at McMaster University starting at around 2001 and is now commonly used across the United States and canada. At each “station”, the applicant will be faced with a different question that they will answer for in front of a new interviewer. Typically, the questions relate to topics that are relevant in the field of medicine, such as medical ethics or health care administration. The interviewers individually score each applicant, providing a sufficiently large to evaluate the applicant without significant bias. In this sense, the interview is “multiple” in that there are many interviewers and prompts and “mini” in that the interview only lasts for a few minutes with each interviewer. The interviewers may be from a wide variety of academic disciplines.

Preparation Tips and Strategies for the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI)

There are a wide variety of MMI questions. Some are quite personal, some may involve role play and others may relate to ethical conundrums or how the applicant might react in a difficult, unsolvable quagmire. Often, questions are designed so that they are almost impossible to prepare for. For example, a question may ask you about a specific event in your past and how it affected you in some way. With that said, many MMI questions will integrate predictable material and can therefore be prepared for. Let’s discuss approaches for these two broad types of MMI questions.

For the personal MMI questions, we would recommend that applicant be completely honest on the interview and give their true beliefs. If you are arguing a point you don’t believe, you won’t be convincing and you will appear shallow. With that said, if your beliefs are controversial, it may be help to use soft language when you describe them so that you are not offensive to others. There is one preparation strategy that can be followed to facilitate this process, namely to familiarize yourself with your own beliefs. What do we mean by this? Well, for any MMI question, you will naturally be inclined to answer a question in a certain direction (e.g. Are you for or against abortion?). If you have thought about the motivations for your own belief system beforehand, then you will be well-prepared to justify the conclusions you make in a particular MMI question (e.g. If you are against, abortion then what is your personal reason for this belief?). This will help you appear to be well-spoken in addition to being honest and forthright in your answers.

Other MMI questions are much less personal and are more a test of one’s intellectual meddle and critical thinking ability. These questions include ethical dilemmas, and health care policy questions, for example. These types of questions are amenable to a structured answer and we will give you an approach for answering such questions. The approach provided is a common way of looking at an MMI question and it is a good place to start. However, we recommend that you develop your own personalized approach to tackling MMI questions. In addition to using an approach to navigate an MMI question, it also helps if you are well-read and up-to-date on current events, because such material may be broached on the MMI and familiarity is to your advantage, even though most MMI interviews do not specifically require and knowledge. Below is a good list of useful topics that are commonly asked about on MMI interviews.

An Approach for Multiple-Mini Interview (MMI) Ethical Questions

You are confronted with a hypothetical ethical situation and asked what you would do. Let’s attack the problem using an approach for ethical MMI questions:

  • Identify the core issues at play in the MMI question
    • (Note: there may be multiple issues, but you not try to address more than you have time for, so it is acceptable to just address one primary component of the question, especially if that is what guides your actions in the hypothetical situation)
  • Identify the relevant ethical concepts
    • (e.g. beneficence, non-maleficience, autonomy)
  • Applying the ethical concepts to the core issues of the question
    • (i.e. specifically state the pertinence and consequence of a particular ethical maxim as it relates to a component of an MMI question)
    • (e.g. ”abortion should be allowed because a woman has autonomy over her own body”)
  • Using the ethical concepts, reach a conclusion
    • How you formulate your final answer is up to you, but generally you will motivate your conclusion by explaining which ethical principles you think are the most important under the circumstances, and why you think so.
  • Motivate your conclusion and explain why you chose it over alternatives
    • To begin with, be sure you have considered all the implications of your conclusion, making sure that you haven’t overlooked something important or contradicted yourself. Then explain why you chose to do what you did, what motivated your actions? To show your foresight, be sure to explicitly outline any alternative pathways of action and describe why you did not choose them.
  • Be prepared to answer any questions about your answer
    • In general, if your answer is well-reasoned, there should be no reason to backtrack or change your mind, but do be prepared to answer any questions. Appearing uncertain after having just carefully motivated the reasoning for your answer will probably not go over well. However, if the interviewer asks you a question that alters the circumstances or reveals new information, it is certainly acceptable to revise your answer.

Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) Topics for Study

  • Ethical principles
    • Beneficence
    • Non-maleficence
    • Autonomy
    • Confidentiality
    • Informed consent
    • Paternalism
  • Health Care Systems
    • Obamacare
    • Medicare
    • Medicaid
    • Canadian Healthcare System
    • Socialized Healthcare
    • Role of Insurance Companies in Healthcare
  • Controversial Medical Topics
    • Abortion
    • Deception (e.g. placebos)
    • Medical marijuana
    • Harm reduction (e.g. safe injection sites)
    • Fetal pregnancy reduction
    • Male circumcision
    • Female genital mutilation (FGM)
    • Sterilization
  • Other Controversial Topics
    • Preferential admissions
  • Role-playing
    • Providing comfort
    • Conflict resolution

Desirable Characteristics and Attributes

Let’s discuss some of the characteristics and attributes that interviewers are looking for:

  • Showing a developed sense of empathy by considering the emotions and needs of other people
  • A demonstrated depth of understanding of complex problems
  • An ability to be fair by balancing conflicting interests
  • Being well-spoken by answering questions clearly and unambiguously and communicating ideas concisely
  • Being diplomatic by using appropriate language (e.g. softening words) where applicable and appearing open-minded
  • Being cool and collected (as opposed to overtly anxious)
  • Showing professional behavior such as an affinity for teamwork
  • Showing knowledge, understanding and respect for ethics
  • Appearing confident and content (A smile doesn’t hurt, but smugness will, so be careful)
  • Demonstrating integrity, responsibility in answers

With this said, it is fair to say that the real question that interviewers are asking themselves when during any sort of medical interview is: “Can I see this person as a physician?” It helps to conduct yourself in a way that promotes your being viewed as such.