by Elliot Dolan-Evans, 04 September, 2018
Hello everyone! My name is Elliot and I am the lead GAMSAT humanities tutor with GradyReady who regularly blogs on the website and gets involved in online screencasts. I also run the InterviewReady course.
I am currently a non-practicing medical doctor, whilst I do my PhD (in feminist studies and political economy) and I am also a law graduate awaiting admission.
I have been through the horrors of the Medical School Application Process as a post-graduate student, did well in the interview stage, assisted at multiple interview days at my medical school and have been instructing GradReady InterviewReady courses for the last few years.
This blog will focus on my top 5 tips for the Multi-Mini Interview format. You should hopefully receive your interview offers by early September.
Once this date comes, you should have a very good idea of what medical school you will be going to for your interview! Medical schools will generally conduct interviews in September and October and you will only have one interview by schools of the ‘GAMSAT Consortium’ (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).
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.
Just like an act on stage, your interview performance is but a snap-shot of yourself as a person (with interviewers sometimes only seeing you for 2-5 minutes!), which can require some dramatisation (interacting with actors in comforting/stressful scenarios) and is extremely affected by how you feel on the day. As such, it is also vitally important to have an idea of what the multiple mini interviews (MMIs) look like.
Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs): The MMI typically consists of six to 10 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 two-minute 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, I remember seeing candidates having 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! If you want any inspiration on how to approach a scenario like this, watch the show Thank God You’re Here.
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? etc
Here are five of my best tips for the MMI:
By all means, you should be practicing your responses to the range of questions that you could be possibly asked but don’t ever try to go into the MMI with a scripted performance.
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.
This sounds difficult – how can you be relaxed on such an important day!
But 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.
This interview is primarily to demonstrate that you can express empathy toward human emotions and understand what it feels like for that person, in their shoes.
If you don’t have this skill naturally, don’t despair. I would say this is more likely due to our communal separation from each other and 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 backgrounds than you!
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, but if there is an opportunity to demonstrate how your personal experiences relate to answering the question, do it!
For my interview, I made sure I did a walk from my accommodation to the medical school the day before and I explored the local area, noted how long it took to get to the medical school and meticulously planned how I would approach the interview day.
Further, when you are preparing for your interview, you need to ensure you have the following broad issues in mind:
Even though there will be fewer candidates getting through to the interview stage, approximately 50% of all candidates at the interview will still not get a medical school place.
However, if it doesn’t work out for you this time, please know that the interview is not a assessment of you as a person and there are many, many things you can do to improve your performance for subsequent years.
Research has demonstrated that the interview process is definitely something that you can practice and prepare for and you need to tell yourself that it is just as vital to prepare for this step of the application process as it is for the GAMSAT.
Let me know if you have any questions about the Interview (through the comments or via email), and good luck!