5 Common MMI Mistakes to Avoid
12 August, 2019
Medical school interviews are right around the corner! Most of the ‘GAMSAT Consortium’ universities (these are University of QLD, Griffith University, University of Melbourne, Deakin University, University of Notre Dame (Fremantle/Sydney), University of WA, Australian National University, and University of Wollongong) typically conduct interviews later in September and early October, with other medical schools (such as University of Sydney) often being slightly earlier. You’ve made it through the GAMSAT, and the interview is the next big hurdle – and will contribute to a large part of your eventual progression to medical school, as your interview performance will generally count for around 33-50% of your final combined score to get into medicine!
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This blog will help assuage your fears of the upcoming trial – I have gone through the panel interview style as a candidate, have been an assistant at several Multiple Mini-Interview (MMI) days at my old medical school, and have been the lead instructor at GradReady’s InterviewReady courses for the last few years. 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 NOT’s’ 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 particular format within the next 6-8 weeks!
Just a brief word on the structure of the MMI to give some context to these recommendations. It varies at every medical school, 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, and you will be presented with a scenario at each of these stations (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.
With this in mind, here are my top 5, DO NOT’s for the MMI! Enjoy!
1. DO NOT pre-design your answers for the MMI questions
I have covered this point briefly in another blog post, 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).
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. As if you get into the station and you’re supposed to be playing a medical student, and you give medical advice as a doctor, that will be very bad for you. I think of it as being an actor, and adapting to each scene as required… and so you need to read your script properly! This will also 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!). Related to this, 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.
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. 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 take one side
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.
5. DO NOT skip practice
Even though you definitely, 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. Further, you should ABSOLUTELY know information about the medical school you are attending – you will probably be asked about it, and it looks very bad if you known nothing of the school!
I hope that helped, and looking forward to your success! If you need more tips on how to start preparing for the MMI interviews, check out our blog article here.