5 Tips to Help You Ace the MMI Interviews
15 August, 2021
Hello everyone! My name is Kayley and I am one of the GAMSAT biology tutors with GradReady. At this time of year you are likely still waiting for your interview offer and may be thinking about how to prepare for the interview. Given the increasing importance of the interview in medical school admissions (for some universities, the interview is heavily weighted in the admissions process), it is likely that you are somewhat anxious about the prospect of the interview. These feelings are perfectly normal! Hopefully, with the information in this blog post and throughout the rest of the GradReady website, you will feel a little more equipped to tackle this next hurdle.
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The MMI Process - What to Expect
Once you get an interview offer, you should have a very good idea of what medical school you will be going to for your interview! The MMI differs between Australian medical schools, so always be sure to prepare appropriately. Medical schools will generally conduct interviews in September and October and you will only have one interview by schools of the GEMSAS Consortium (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). Your interview score will be standardised for use by other schools if you are not successful in gaining an offer of a place at the school at which you had your interview. Interviews for universities outside of the GEMSAS Consortium (e.g. Monash University, University of Sydney, Flinders University) are conducted separately and their interview scores are not standardised for use by other schools.
This blog will focus on the Multi-Mini Interview (MMI) format, which is the most common interview style used by medical schools. The MMI typically consists of multiple very short interviews (or situations) that revolve around a specific scenario. Typically, a series of six to 10 “mini” interviews is conducted over a period of nearly two hours. Each mini interview includes a short prep period before engaging in a conversation that lasts between five to eight minutes.
The MMI scenarios are meant to assess a candidate’s skill and proficiency in areas such as problem solving, logical thinking, interpersonal skills, and ethical judgment. For example, one scenario may ask a candidate to describe what they would do if they learned that a physician was giving patients placebos instead of actual medications.
There are also scenarios that involve teamwork and assess the ability to work with a partner to solve a problem. For example, you may have to instruct a team of actors in arranging a puzzle.
Communication skills also can be assessed through scenarios where actors pose as patients – you may have to enter a room and comfort a crying or angry actor! General communication skills are often assessed in other stations, too; how you answer questions and explain your reasoning are all factors that the examiners may consider when grading your interview performance.
These examples above are very much the kind of scenarios you may expect in an MMI – they can be highly variable and extremely surprising. However, there is almost a guarantee that you will have at least two short interviews which are literally just interviews with one or more assessors in the room. The questions here may vary, but could involve:
- Ethics - e.g. Would you donate the liver to the drug user or the youngster?
- Social policies - e.g. What is your opinion on Australia’s current asylum seeker policy?
- Your personal choices - e.g. Why do you want to study medicine? Why would you want to be a doctor? What led you to this? What will make you a good doctor? Why this medical school?
While the MMI format is the most common format among medical schools, some universities may use other formats, e.g. Flinders University uses a traditional panel interview. While this blog does not discuss formats other than the MMI, the tips discussed here may be generalisable to other formats.
5 Tips for the MMI
Here are five of my best tips for the MMI:
1. DO NOT pre-design your answers for the MMI questions.
While it is good to practise for the MMI, don’t ever try to go into the MMI with a scripted performance as examiners can tell when a response has been over-rehearsed. Furthermore, there is much more value in reflecting on the various experiences that you've had that has led you to the moment of the interview. Reflect on your own opinions, your ethics, your political opinions, your biases and your views on the major issues facing the community today. On a similar vein, make sure that you listen to the questions properly and answer the question that was actually asked - not the one that you wish was asked or the one that you had prepared for.
2. DO be relaxed and thoughtful.
This sounds difficult – how can you be relaxed on such an important day? However, it is vital that you try to be at ease, so you can naturally show the real you. Take your time, allow for pauses and silences, and really think about your response to a question or given situation, instead of rushing through and saying the first thing that comes to mind. Remember that while that time spent thinking about what to say may seem like an eternity, it usually doesn’t come across that way to the listener, and in an interview situation the examiners expect that many people will spend time thinking before answering.
3. DO express empathy.
This interview is primarily to demonstrate that you can express empathy toward other humans and understand what it feels like for that person, in their shoes. If you don’t have this skill naturally, don’t despair - it is something you can work on! Read literature that delves into emotions, do volunteer work for the community, and try to engage with people and hear their stories – especially if they are from a different ethnic/class/gender background to you!
4. DO tell stories.
The strongest candidates are those who can integrate storytelling, especially as it relates to their own life experiences, into their answers. You shouldn’t force this if it isn’t natural or if you don’t have a relevant life experience for that particular scenario. However, if there is an opportunity to demonstrate how your personal experiences relate to answering the question, do it! One way to prepare for the interview would be to reflect on some of your more meaningful life experiences so that you will have plenty of examples to draw from on the day.
5. DO be familiar with the campus area for the MMI as much as possible beforehand
It’s a good idea to do a dry run from your accommodation to the campus (or wherever your interview is held) the day before so that you can plan how you are going to get there and where exactly you need to be. Further, when you are preparing for your interview, you need to ensure you have the following broad issues in mind:
- The amount of preparation time you put in – just like anything else (e.g. preparing for the GAMSAT), you need to prepare for the interview very thoroughly.
- How you will feel on the day – will you employ relaxation techniques, ensure you get to the venue with plenty of time to spare, wear appropriate attire, etc?
- Will you tailor your interview performance to the medical school? Like an actor, a candidate must know their audience very well and mould their performance to suit the reactions and intricacies of this audience. For example, Wollongong University is typically focused on rural rotations – and so it would be intelligent and prudent to try to demonstrate your interest or experience in/with rural medicine.
Even though there will be fewer candidates getting through to the interview stage, approximately 50% of all candidates at the interview (depending on the medical school) will still not get a medical school place if they fail to pass the strict Australian graduate medical schools admission requirements. However, if it doesn’t work out for you this time, please know that the interview is not an assessment of you as a person and there are many, many things you can do to improve your performance for subsequent years.
I hope that this blog post has helped to shed some light on the structure of the MMI, and how to do well in it. If you have any more queries or concerns, feel free to read our other blog posts on the topic of MMIs, or sign up for one of our InterviewReady courses, which include plenty of practice material for you to cut your teeth on. Best of luck!