“I am a chain smoker. Convince me to stop smoking.” This could be one of the role-playing questions that you may get asked during your multiple mini-interviews (MMI) if you have applied for medicine, dentistry or other related undergraduate degree courses in the UK. A new style of interviewing, developed by McMaster in 2002, the MMI is a practical assessment which allows you to demonstrate what you are capable of in a series of tasking stations. During the MMI, you will walk around the circuit to different scoring stations where you will spend approximately five to 10 minutes per activity. Usually, there are six to 12 stations, however, the number of stations varies for each college. Several universities use the MMI in the UK, including the University of Manchester, King’s College London and the University of Bristol.
Generally, multiple mini-interviews ask questions to assess one of the following competencies, which are defined by the General Medical Council’s Publication, Tomorrow’s Doctors:
- Academic ability and intellect
- Initiative and resilience
- Communication skills
- Organisation and problem solving
- Insight and integrity
- Effective learning style
Some examples of questions which assess the above qualities may be, “Give us an example of where you had to use teamwork to overcome a problem,” or “Why do you think teamwork is important as a medical student and in the medical field?” or “How does the medical regulatory body work in your country?” Alternatively, you may also have to complete a suture by following the instructions in front of you. Sometimes, the task-based questions asked can also be unrelated to the medical field such as, “Inform your neighbour that you have just (accidentally) run over and killed their cat” or “While travelling on the London Underground, one of your friends has become separated from the group – it’s their first time in London – describe your plan of action.” The idea behind this interview style is to assess your ability to adapt to different situations, think on your feet and think clearly under pressure, instead of regurgitating rehearsed answers to interview questions.
This interview style has many benefits. First, it may give you a distinct advantage as it allows you to express yourself better. Added to this, thanks to its multi-station nature, the MMI allows you to show your talents in various tasks. Furthermore, if you have a weak station, the assessment allows you to compensate for your low score in other stations as each is marked independently.
However, this is what makes it more difficult to prepare for MMIs, but here are a few ways to get a head start:
1) Research, research, research:
Check the information colleges put on their websites and make sure you understand what they are looking for in a medical student.
2) Know examples from your work experiences:
After each work experience, make notes about your role, what skills you developed and how they will help you as a medical student. Review these notes before you go for the interview so that you can give specific examples.
3) Stay up-to-date with current affairs:
Interviewers can become creative and ask about medical situations in the UK or in your country. So, if you don’t already, make sure you start reading national newspapers or watching the news on TV.
4) Practice with someone:
Ask someone to act as an interviewer. Go through some role-playing and task-based questions, which can be found online.
5) Prepare for common questions:
Make sure that you are ready to answer basic questions such as, “Why do you want to study medicine?” or “What qualities do you have which will make you a good doctor?”
On the day of the interview, be confident. If you have reached the interview stage, the probability of getting an offer has vastly increased. Remember, the key is to communicate clearly. This is not limited to verbal communication but extends to your body language and listening skills as well, so make sure you are dressed professionally and are attentive and engaging. If you are confused about what to do for a particular question, ask for clarification – don’t waste time trying to decipher what the interviewer wants. Some of the questions do not have a right answer; the interviewer is evaluating your thought process, so make sure you concisely articulate your answer.
Remember, these questions aren’t there to trick you or mislead you, so stay calm, be yourself and most importantly be honest; avoid panicking if you cannot answer one of the questions as there are other chances to showcase your skills. This process gives every student a fair opportunity to succeed in the interview process, so start preparing now.
For help with your MMI prep, get in touch with us.