Happy Dream (Not Nightmare) Interview: MMI Preparation

Happy Dream (Not Nightmare) Interview: MMI Preparation

The Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) is unlike your traditional panel interview. MMIs consist of numerous stations (sometimes up to ten), each focused on a different question or scenario, set up in a separate room with a new interviewer. Many candidates make the mistake of preparing for MMIs as they would for a regular job interview, by getting straight to the point and answering questions directly. Recall that the role of Medicine Admissions Interview is to assess a candidate's suitability for a career in Medicine. Being frank and forthright in a medical setting may cause more harm than good; all options need to be considered — and communicated — to ensure appropriate care is provided to patients.  

To succeed in MMI settings, you must first understand the key competencies as determined by the interviewing medical school i.e., the ability to:

  • Interact effectively with peers, healthcare team, patients, and their families
  • Contribute effectively as a team member
  • Act ethically and demonstrate the capacity to care
  • Communicate efficiently and assimilate, organise, and present information concisely
  • Promote health maintenance

Naturally, these key competencies direct the topics explored at different interview stations. Although the content varies slightly between universities, the themes of MMIs generally centre around:

  • Personal questions
  • Emotional communication
  • Problem solving
  • Resilience and maturity
  • Enthusiasm for Medicine
  • Awareness of common issues in Medicine
  • Ethics and empathy

It is important to note that due to the high volume of candidates participating in Medicine Admissions Interviews each year, it is impossible to recruit large numbers of clinicians to assess all participants. Therefore, your assessors may also include academics, members of the administrative staff, medical students, or even individuals drawn from the wider community, like butchers and landscapers. So, why does this matter?

Your final interview score will be based on your ability to answer the question/scenario presented and how well you communicate your response. You must practice sharing your answers in a universally understandable style — remember, as a doctor your job is to present information to patients in a comprehensible fashion. And when I say practice, I do not mean the weekend before your interview. Interview performance makes up a significant chunk of your ranking required for medical school offers, which is why you should start preparing for interviews before offers are released. It is recommended you spend at least a few weeks (or a couple of months) preparing, practicing scenarios under interview conditions with someone who understands the criteria. 

When practicing, it is important to arrange your response according to a particular pattern. One such technique is the SPIES format, used for interpersonal conflict and ethical issues in clinical situations:

  • Seek information – identify who the stakeholders are
  • Patient safety – make sure the patient is okay before proceeding
  • Initiative – can you do anything yourself to solve the problem
  • Escalate – involve other colleagues if you require further assistance
  • Support – support all those involved 

For instance, you are a junior doctor in a hospital and overhear a fellow doctor talk down to a nurse who they say was high on illicit drugs in a nightclub last night. How would you address the situation? Using the SPIES technique, we can propose:

  • Seek information – correctly identify that the nurse, doctor, hospital governing body, and immediate patients require attention.
  • Patient safety – make sure to check up on all the patients who are currently under the care of the nurse.
  • Initiative – ascertain viewpoints from both the doctor and the nurse (in a private setting and not in front of patients). You may have to involve the hospital disciplinary body if it is found that an employee is under the influence of intoxicating substances at work. Try to organise another nurse to look after the patients until more information is provided. 
  • Escalate – seek guidance from senior registrars/consultants at the hospital and/or report the matter to the hospital disciplinary body.
  • Support – If it is found that the nurse is under the influence of illicit substances, they should rightly be disciplined by the hospital’s governing body. However, the nurse should also receive counselling or directives to pathways to help resolve their drug problem, as taking illicit substances could be a sign of deeper mental health issues. Conversely, if the doctor who initially raised the concern was lying, a meeting with peers should be proposed to examine workplace bullying. 

Other techniques for responding to general and ethical scenarios exist; however, you should work to develop a technique of your own to help organise your thoughts. Some MMI stations will require strong, robust responses covering a wide range of topics and this can only be achieved with well-articulated and organised answers. Importantly, once key stakeholders are identified, you should work through responses that address each viewpoint. The Institute of Medical Education Medicine Admissions Interview Question Generator provides example themes and interview questions that are assessed across a diverse number of medical schools. If you receive an offer for interview, our Interview Mentorship Program will give you the best chance at entry, so contact us today!