The Multiple Mini Interviews format, also more commonly known as the MMI, has been used for medical school admissions for a long time, but it is also very prevalent in school admissions for other healthcare sectors such as dentistry and physiotherapy. Using the MMI is still considered the gold standard for healthcare school admissions and it is used in many countries including Singapore. While the MMI sounds daunting, it is also important to note that it is definitely coachable and trainable. The more clarity you have on the structure and the answering technique, and the more practice you have, the greater your level of confidence in tackling it. The challenge of the MMI can be mastered with the right interview skills coaching.
Why do schools use the MMI?
The MMI is generally considered to be a more standardised interview process, with defined rubrics and more than one interviewer, thus reducing some subjective elements to the interview. But what is most important is that the MMI provides interviewers with a snapshot of the candidate's behaviour and instinctual reactions rather than prepared stories from the past, which potentially provides the interviewer with a more realistic viewpoint of the candidate's personality and ability to handle real world situations.
What is different about the MMI?
The MMI usually consists of a few stations, ranging anything from 5 to 10 stations, depending on the university. What the stations will focus on will depend on the actual course you are applying for, but by and large, it will be testing the key competencies required of the course for example empathy, communication skills, critical thinking etc.
How these competencies are tested could involve different methods but here are the main ones:
General interview stations - what we know as the "normal" interview questions such as "Tell me about yourself"
Tough question stations - questions that present a conflict for you to assess
Role playing stations - involves an actor or an interviewer role playing a character
Written assessment stations - you are required to provide a written essay on a particular topic
In recent times, the asynchronous MMI has become more prevalent, and all stations could be done online and recorded, without any interviewer present in real time.
How does it change the interview skills you need?
The basic interview skills of being able to present clear, succinct answers that are genuine and sincere remains the core requirement, but in an MMI, the need to be clear, succinct, genuine and sincere is even greater.
Firstly, the stations are timed (2 minutes or 5 minutes is the usual timing), which means that all your answers must be presented in the stipulated duration. If you have tried this out at home, you will come to realise that it is a practiced skill to be able to say what you need to say and conclude with confidence within 2 minutes.
Secondly, the role playing station tends to throw most candidates off. If you are not prepared for it, it presents an awkward situation. Some of my clients describe it as a "drama club moment" where you seem to be asked to become an actor. When I coach clients for this, we look at techniques to look beyond the acting and how to approach the role playing station for what it is, which is you need to identify the main problem in the scenario and how you would approach it. Shrugging off the artificiality of the role play and providing a genuine, sincere response is key.
Thirdly, the MMI focuses on situational based questions and thus the candidate needs to focus on showcasing their thinking ability, their situational aptitude, and decision making. So while the questions may involve patients, members of the public, or your friendly neighbour, know that the MMI targets your ability to quickly grasp social and people issues and how you would think of a solution or manage the situation, rather than your ability to immediately diagnose or provide a medical solution.
The MMI is a rigorous interview and testing process, but it also presents you with an opportunity to showcase your aptitude to more people and in more situations, thus reducing the subjective opinion of just one or two interviewers. It does come with the need to master more interview skills, but know that it is possible to practice and prepare for the MMI such that it is no longer a daunting process for you. The MMI is at the end of the day a test of the ability to communicate rational and logical thought processes, in a way that is easily understood and trusted by others. It all comes down to acing your interview and communication skills.
A recent Google review from our client who was coached for the MMI
Written by Siew Ling Hwang, Founder of Discovering Potential
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