5 MMI Mistakes to Avoid
01 August, 2021
Medical school interviews are right around the corner! Most of the GAMSAT Consortium universities (these are University of Queensland, Griffith University, University of Melbourne, Deakin University, University of Notre Dame (Fremantle/Sydney), University of Western Australia, Australian National University, Macquarie University, and University of Wollongong) typically conduct interviews in late September and early October, with other medical schools (such as University of Sydney and Flinders University) often being slightly earlier. After making it through the GAMSAT, the interview is your next big hurdle. It is not a hurdle to be taken lightly, as your interview performance will generally count for around 33-50% of your final combined score to get into medicine!
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The most common medical school interview format is the Multiple Mini Interview, or MMI for short. The exact details vary between medical schools, but the general format is that you will have between 5 – 8 MMI stations on the day, which might run between 5 – 10 minutes each. At each scenario, you will be presented with a scenario or set of instructions (though every medical school is different, so do your research for your institution!). Generally, each station is within an individual room, and these will be set out in a circuit so that you will progress from room-to-room (possibly with short breaks in between). Usually, you will have a chance to read a short passage on what you are expected to do in the station before you enter the room. This will usually be secured to the outside of the door.
As the intricacies of the MMI have been covered elsewhere on this blog site, the main purpose of this piece will be to give you five quick ‘DO NOTs’ of the MMI! I will look to outline and emphasise the top things that you should NOT do at your upcoming MMI. MMI’s are the most widely used interview style at medical schools, and it is very likely that you will be going through this format yourself! Hopefully, avoiding these common pitfalls will help you to perform at your best on interview day.
With this in mind, here are my top 5 DO NOTs for the MMI! Enjoy!
1. DO NOT pre-design your answers for the MMI questions
This point has been covered in other blog posts, but it’s worth repeating again here. The whole point of the MMI is that it is a conversational format where you can demonstrate who you are as a person; you will NOT achieve this if you walk in with pre-designed answers. It will be very, very obvious to your examiner. Because there is a good range of example MMI stations on the internet, many students fall into the trap of attempting to prepare fixed answers for every possible question. There are many, many reasons why this is a bad idea, but most immediately interviewers will find out very quickly that you are not an open communicator who can adapt to varying situations (which will occur in the MMI). Instead, focus on developing strategies for approaching different types of stations, rather than memorising fixed responses.
2. DO NOT ignore the scenario instructions
As said before, there will typically be a short paragraph or phrase outside the station that tells you what you should expect and your role. PAY VERY CLOSE ATTENTION TO THIS. Think of it as being an actor and adapting to each scene as required; you need to read your script properly! This will help you adjust yourself to whether you are entering a station where you will be discussing an issue one-on-one with an examiner or interacting with an actor in a role-play (or any of the several different possibilities!). Furthermore, if you are mindful of your role that is given to you, you can better address direct challenges that come to you in the MMI. For example, if you are a medical student talking with a patient in a waiting room, and they ask you medical questions, you can explain your role, discuss with them how you don’t know, and help them formulate a way of asking these questions to the doctor. This is demonstrating you are comfortable with not knowing an answer (especially when you are not expected to!), as well as empathy and being appropriate in your clinical role. Alternatively, if your role is to be the patient’s friend, the tone of your discussions will be quite different, and may focus more on the patient’s personal issues.
3. DO NOT not listen
This is obviously a double negative, but it means that you should be very attentive in your listening! With the stress of the day, it is very easy to not listen to instructions, to the people you are supposed to be engaging with in the station, and/or your examiner(s). However, it is vital that you take everything on board, reflect on what you are being told, and appropriately respond – and active listening is at the centre of this. In some ways, this point is related to #2. Not only do you have to make sure to pay attention to what you are reading, but also what you are listening to. Ensure that you are in the moment, not thinking of your future in medical school, and trying to engage deeply with everyone you come across at the MMI. To demonstrate active listening, be sure to reflect speech back on the speaker, give non-verbal cues, and respond appropriately.
4. DO NOT ignore one side of an argument
Certain types of questions/scenarios in the MMI will ask for your opinion or thoughts on certain policies or public health issues. It is sometimes tempting to have a very dogmatic answer to this that might be heavily skewed by your personal beliefs or ideology. This is very normal, and we all have these biases.
However, as a doctor, a very important skill is to be able to weigh up the pros and cons of every possible decision, and so when you come across these stations in the MMI, it is highly recommended that you acknowledge and discuss each side of a debate. This will demonstrate that you have the capacity to take on and analyse information on its own merits. Remember that there are no “correct” answers to MMI questions. You will be marked more on how you arrive at an answer and how you explore the issues involved.
5. DO NOT skip practice
Even though you definitely should not memorise your answers to MMI questions, it is vital that you practice! Just like anything, interview techniques are a skill that you can refine and improve upon, and practice makes perfect. Preparation entails several dimensions, but you should be familiar with the types of questions that you might be asked, think to yourself how you might answer these, and ensure you are comfortable with the scenarios and content that you might possibly encounter. You may also want to practice answering questions in front of friends or family so that you can become familiar with thinking on the spot in front of another human being. Further, you should absolutely have some knowledge about the medical school you are interviewing at. If you are asked about it, it looks very bad if you know nothing of the school!
I hope this blog post has helped your preparation somewhat. We at GradReady are looking forward to your success in applying to medical school! If you need more tips on how to start preparing for the MMI interviews, check out our blog article here.