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Applying to Med/PA School

The Internet’s Best Advice for a Multi-Mini Interview: I Read the Articles So You Don’t Have To

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About Anne Marie

Anne Marie Conrad is a 2021 graduate of Purdue University’s College of Liberal Arts with degrees in Global Studies and Spanish along with a certificate in Medical Humanities. She has explored her passion for global healthcare by doing undergraduate research on best practices for provision of healthcare across language and cultural barriers. Anne Marie was an Atlantis Fellow to Valladolid, Spain during the Summer of 2019.

Picture this: You’ve volunteered in healthcare to make sure medicine is where your passion lies. Maybe, like me, you shadowed abroad with Atlantis to get clinical shadowing hours while having an international experience. You’ve likely done research during undergrad that has directed you into (or out of) a general field of medicine. Applications have opened and yours has been submitted. After your primaries and secondaries are in, you’ll definitely want to breathe a sigh of relief, and you absolutely should! There’s one last step before you’re accepted into medical school: interviews. The interview portion of the application is another opportunity for you to show medical schools what a good candidate you are. One of the most nerve-wracking types of interviews for some premeds is the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) format. While not every medical school employs the MMI style, it is becoming increasingly popular so be sure to check the list (Appendix B of this webpage) of schools that do. 

Feeling nervous before the MMI is valid. These interviews are carrying more weight in final medical school decisions each year. However, there’s good news: tons of information, free practice questions, and preparation strategies are out there to help students just like you and me prepare. This post contains information on what exactly is the MMI, the reasoning behind its use, details on the format, types of MMI questions and preparation strategies, as well as links to sample question banks.

What is the Multi-Mini Interview?

Before I applied to medical school, I’d never even heard of the MMI. If you and I have that in common, I’ve done some research for us. The MMI is a specific format of interview where interviewees reveal their thought process, different character traits, and critical thinking skills. Based on answers to the problem scenario interview questions, interviewers are able to gauge communication skills, self-awareness, maturity, and empathy of applicants. Students participating in an MMI format will provide an answer to a question scenario at each of 6 to 10 different stations. These question scenarios aren’t testing content knowledge. Rather, they’re a way to assess interviewees’ thought processes and reactions to certain situations. 

Why use the MMI?

The MMI format came out of an awareness that there were medical students who didn’t possess necessary soft skills in order to become humane and competent physicians. The MMI is now used to select for applicants who will respond well to stressful and ethically challenging situations in their professional lives. Additionally, MMIs come with the benefit of multiple interviewers seeing one candidate. Subjectivity is also limited as MMIs are more standardized than traditional interview questions. 

Format of the MMI

In each station of an MMI scenario, the applicant gets a two minute preparation period where they can read their question scenario and begin brainstorming their answers. After these two minutes, students enter a room with an interviewer. Here they have eight minutes to verbalize their thought process and provide their interviewer with an answer. Applicants will typically go through 6 to 10 stations per medical school MMI.

Types of questions

The MMI involves three different types of questions. 

  1. The first type of questions involve ethical scenarios. Interviewers use these questions to test how you process a high pressure and morally challenging situation. In order to answer this type of question, start by identifying the primary problem in the scenario and picking out factors in the prompt that will need to be considered in order to answer the question. Interviewees should then process the scenario out loud, asking questions, making educated assumptions, and acknowledging both sides of the situation. Finally the interviewee should make a decision between two possible extremes. 
  2. The second type of question deals with character development. This type of interview question is most similar to traditional interview questions. Interviewers will expect you to reflect on past experiences, include specific personal anecdotes, and demonstrate self improvement. No matter what the anecdote, your story should show how you have been able to learn and grow from experience. If you’re given a hypothetical situation, think back to similar situations and respond in a way that aligns with your values, making sure to deliver answers with compassion and respect. These types of questions will benefit most from memory recall. For example, I practiced with questions about hypothetical ethical dilemmas inherently present for students in international medical situations. Ethical dilemmas often arise in situations like this because of varying rules that govern what students and non-professionals are allowed to do according to different countries. Because of my previous experience in international shadowing with Atlantis, I was able to draw from those memories to construct a realistic picture of how I would be feeling and what I would ultimately choose in the hypothetical presented to me.
  3. The last type of question evaluates teamwork skills. Typically you are working with another applicant or an interviewer. One of you will be the instructor and the other will be the performer. Often the tasks have to do with building some sort of structure out of blocks. In both roles it is important to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Both performers and instructors should consistently check in with each other using clear and direct language. It is important to note that you are not evaluated based on whether or not you and your teammate complete the task. Rather, your evaluators are assessing your communication abilities.

How to prepare

Get experience with Multi-Mini Interview questions. Don’t try to memorize prompts and answers, but recognize the skills you are using to answer the questions and do your best to hone those skills. For some time before your interview, practice articulating your thought processes to yourself and to others. Consider reviewing basic ethical standards related to healthcare and forming opinions and potentially controversial issues. Most importantly, relax. Feel free to check out the links below in order to familiarize yourself with more details about strategy as well as to see example questions and answers. Remember: this style of interview is aimed at discovering who you are and how you respond. You can do it! 

Question banks:

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Atlantis is the leader in pre-health shadowing and clinical experience, offering short-term programs (1-10 weeks) over academic breaks for U.S. pre-health undergraduates. Medical schools want 3 things: (1)healthcare exposure, (2)GPA/MCAT, and (3)certain competencies. Atlantis gives you a great version of (1), frees you to focus on (2), and cultivates/shows (3) to medical school admissions committees.

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Cover of the Medical School Admissions Guide.
Two Atlantis alumni admitted to Top 5 MD programs wrote our widely read medical school admissions guidebook — download yours.