MMI Interview Do’s and Don’ts
26 July, 2020
Read 199 times
So, you’ve submitted your graduate medicine applications and are awaiting that exciting email to say that you’ve been offered an MMI interview for one of your medical school preferences
After the rollercoaster that is the GAMSAT exam and preparing your applications for GEMSAS and the individual universities
, it’s pretty safe to say that the year so far has been chaotic (not to mention the global pandemic!). And now you’re left twiddling your thumbs.
You might be thinking, how should I be preparing for the multi-mini interview?
The Multi-Mini Interview (MMI) has clearly become the favoured structure of the interview process for graduate medicine admissions in Australia. Students who are awaiting their offers should therefore make sure they understand what the MMI may involve, and take steps to prepare themselves for it appropriately.
That’s what I’m going to outline here, a short compilation of experience-based tips from current medical students, otherwise known as my ‘Do’s and Don’ts’ for preparing for the graduate medicine MMIs.
First and foremost: Do prepare. Don’t over-rehearse for the MMI interview.
This is probably the most misunderstood part of preparing for the MMIs. The general aim of the MMIs is to assess applicants’ suitability for a career in medicine—that is, whether that individual truly has what it takes to survive and thrive in what is a life-long and sometimes life-consuming commitment to being a doctor. This is part of the reason why over-rehearsed answers to questions in the MMI are a big no-no. It comes across as artificial, and projects disingenuous motives to the interviewers.
Avoiding this conveyance of inauthenticity sometimes drives students to believe that they should therefore not prepare for the interviews at all. That whatever communication skills they inherently possess should shine through when it comes to interview day. And this may be the case for the small percentage of applicants who are naturally and exceptionally good communicators. However, for the rest of us, the pressure and intimidation of the MMIs can often render us bumbling nervous wrecks, which of course isn’t very impressive for the interviewers.
My recommendation to you would be to compile a list of typical medical interview-style questions (many aspiring medical students find these on blog articles or forums), and practice answering them under MMI-typical time constraints to someone who can give you constructive feedback about your verbal and non-verbal communication skills. This also allows you to realise the paucity of time that you have in an MMI station, and forces you to develop more effective and efficient ways of communicating your ideas. It’s also a good idea at this point to do some research about the structure of the MMIs that graduate medical schools use, including the timing and number of stations.
By doing this, students can practice their MMI interview technique without rote-learning responses and without coming across as a robot on interview day. It also allows you to reflect on the true reasons why you want to study medicine, and why you think you will make a good doctor. This brings me to my next point…
Second: Do reflect. Don’t lie.
Secondly, whilst you are rehearsing as I recommended above, it is essential to leave time for reflection not only on the constructive feedback from your interview-prep buddy, but to allow you to more strongly form your understanding of your own motives and capacity to study medicine.
Remember, the interviewers want to know why you would make a good doctor. It would be very hard to convey such suitability without understanding your own strengths and weaknesses. My recommendation would be to search the internet, and perhaps read some medical non-fiction books, that will give you a good idea of what skills are required or desired for a medical doctor to succeed in their practice.
At this point, you may also be wondering what a ‘perfect’ response to the question ‘Why do you want to study medicine?’ might be, and you may even be considering writing your response based on what you think sounds correct.
If this resounds with you, my advice would be to avoid ANY such confabulation or untruthful words.
The same way that over-rehearsed answers may come across as disingenuous to interviewers, so will an actual disingenuous response. These interviewers see tens to hundreds of applicants every year and are well-trained in detecting those who are simply regurgitating a pre-formed, ‘correct-sounding’ response to a question.
Moreover, if you genuinely aspire to study medicine and seek a career as a doctor, on the predication that you can communicate reasonably effectively (see above notes about practice!), this genuine aspiration should be detected by your interviewers. Just because your reason for wanting to study medicine isn’t the same as your friend’s, doesn’t mean it isn’t ‘correct’.
This is why one of the first things I always say to friends who are preparing for an MMI for graduate medicine is to make sure that they understand their strengths and weaknesses well, and understand their own motives—not someone else’s. With adequate reflection and consideration of the aims of the MMI process, you may achieve this.
Overall, the MMI interview can be thought of in two ways: an intimidating and exhausting process that seriously tests your ability to communicate under pressure; and your one opportunity to convince the interviewers that you have what it takes to become a medical doctor. It can be very daunting in the lead up, and feeling nervous about the MMIs is not something that should make you worried. Ultimately, if you have genuine intentions and are well-prepared, you may be able to overcome these nerves on interview day.
So lastly, here’s a summary of my do’s and don’ts of the MMI:
- Do make sure you understand the purpose and structure of the MMI
- Do prepare by practising responding to questions using the MMI format and timing (with a friend if possible!)
- Do reflect on your own strengths and weaknesses, and motives for studying medicine
- Do reflect on your performance (and any peer feedback) during your practice, and use it to improve on your weaknesses
- Don’t over-rehearse your potential answers
- Don’t fabricate answers that you think will ‘sound right’ to the interviewers
And lastly, something I always advise: don’t forget to smile!
If you're looking for some professional help to maximise your preparation and ace the interview, check out our InterviewReady Course