5 Biggest Mistakes Students Make During an MMI Interview

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Session 332

Today, we’re going to talk about the biggest mistakes students make when preparing for and during the Multiple Mini Interview or MMI. It’s a new interview format that’s sweeping the medical school nation. The MMI was originally from McMaster University in Canada, the same institution that brought the CASPer test that a lot of schools are using as a secondary screen. The MMI came before CASPer.

The MMI is supposed to help medical schools and admissions committee members really dive into more about who you are. It supposed to have less subjectivity when it comes to interviewing. Listen to Episode 152 where I had a great conversation with Dr. Rivera from NYU. We talked about everything you need to know about the MMI.

I do mock interviews with students and one of those formats is an MMI. The good thing is that students fall into very common traps that are really easy to fix.

'MMI is not a scary interview. It should be a fun interview.'Click To Tweet

Also, as I’m preparing a book about MMI, I would like to know your thoughts. What information do you want there? Send me an email at ryan@medicalschoolhq.net with the subject line: MMI Book and let me know!

[03:20] Every School Can Be Different

There is no one set standard MMI format. Every school is different. For instance, some schools have a specific number of stations wherein at each station, you read the scenario outside of the room. You go into the room and do whatever the scenario says. Then you come out of the room and rotate to the next room. This is the traditional MMI setting. Other schools are doing a mix of MMI and a traditional one-on-one interview.

Again, every school is different. So what one school looks like, what one student tells you the MMI is like, may not be applicable to what you will see on your MMI. The best thing to do is to ask the school.

'Every school can be different. Don't assume what you hear about one school is going to transfer over to another school.'Click To Tweet

[05:18] Different Types of Scenarios

A station is a room with a facilitator inside and a scenario outside the room. The scenario can be in the form of a problem to test your problem-solving skills. Or there could be an actor inside the room and you have to work through the situation. It could be a moral or ethical dilemma that you have to work through. There could also be a station where you’re working with another student to figure out a puzzle or drawing.

'There are many different types of scenarios that you could walk into and reading the scenario on the outside is one of the most important things you need to do.'Click To Tweet

Reading the scenario appropriately is very important so this is something you need to keep in mind. In fact, not reading the scenarios is also one of the common mistakes students tend to make when it comes to MMI. Basically, you have two minutes to read the scenario. You go into the room and then you have 6-8 minutes inside. Then you come out and rotate through the different stations.

[07:00] Mistake #1: Structuring Answers

Several students read the most common MMI book out there right now. They structure their answer and put it into an algorithm of how to answer MMI questions. But they fail miserably because they’ve removed the conversational aspect of the MMI. Interviewers want to make sure that you’re going to communicate well with their loved ones who are in the hospital.

'Interviews are there to test your ability to communicate.'Click To Tweet

However, if you come in with a very structured and algorithmic answer, you’re removing the conversation piece, which is the whole point of the MMI. If they see that you’re just coming with pre-prepared answers, they might think you couldn’t think on the fly.

I’m actually writing a new book because several students that I do mock interviews with do this during the MMI portion of our mock interview.

[09:15] Mistake #2: Asking for Permission/Acceptance

Students come into the room and they will recap the scenario and ask the interviewer whether they got that right and understood it correctly. Never ask the interviewer whether you’ve read the scenario correctly. Otherwise, this only proves you don’t have confidence in your reading skills. This is a high-stress, high-pressure environment of being at a medical school and interviewing to get an acceptance. And when students are stressed, sometimes they may not be able to read appropriately and they may miss something. This is something you have to work on to make sure you don’t do that. Figure out how to calm your nerves as you’re reading and really understand what you’re looking at.

[11:37] Mistake #3: Not Reading the Scenario Properly

Because there are different types of scenarios, you have to understand and ask yourself the question of what you’re walking into. Are you walking into a room where there are patients screaming at you and you’re, say, a nurse or doctor? Are you walking into a room where there’s an interviewer sitting there and you’re just going to have a conversation about the scenario? Are you walking into a room where there is somebody else and you have to interact with them and collaborate with them over a project?

'You have to understand what you are walking into.'Click To Tweet

So could be walking into an interviewer-based scenario and then an actor-based scenario. Then the student walks into the room and thinks they’re in another actor-based scenario when it’s just the interviewer wanting to have a conversation. Failure to read appropriately would only show them that you don’t have the reading comprehension skills that you should. You let your nerves get to you and you just didn’t properly read the scenario. These are well-created scenarios so there’s not going to be much room for interpretation in the scenario.

Moreover, if there’s something that’s not clicking in your mind while reading it or you have a followup question, you can ask for clarification. So when you walk into the room, introduce yourself. Tell them that before you start the scenario, ask for clarification on a specific part. You’re not asking for reassurance that how you read it was correct but you’re only asking for clarification on something. You’re asking a specific question about a specific part of that scenario.

[15:10] Mistake #4: Stumbling Through the Laws Around Healthcare and What You Can and Can’t Do as a Physician or Medical Student – and the Medicine Around Healthcare

This can be a medically based scenario and students will stumble because they don’t know whether, for instance, surgery was supposed to be the option. The schools obviously don’t expect you to know that you know this stuff. You’re not expected to know the laws around ethics and how to treat different diseases and what medications work, the side effects, and all those other stuff.

As soon as you feel you can’t answer a question because you don’t know and realize you’re not supposed to know, realize that it’s okay to not know. They’re not expecting you to know. You’re not getting marked off because you don’t know. The goal again is to hear your thought processes. They want to hear how you communicate.

'Part of that communication is communicating that you don't know, and how are you going to find out the answer.'Click To Tweet

Then you could tell the interviewer that you don’t know the answer and here’s what you’re going to do. You’re probably going to ask this or that person to see what your options are. Remember that you’re never alone in these scenarios. You can ask for help. What specific laws do you want to know about? Don’t assume you know everything. Help the interviewer understand what you’re thinking and why you’re thinking it.

'You're not alone in medicine. You can ask for help. Treat this as real as possible and the easier they will be for you.'Click To Tweet

[18:18] Mistake #5: Not Listening

This is very common, especially in actor-based scenarios. Remember again and again that the role of any interview is communication. How well do you communicate? And a huge part of communication is listening.

'You have to be a good listener.'Click To Tweet

Yes, this is a stressful situation. You’re in a room with an actor screaming or doing all these things. And students make the mistake of thinking about what to say next. But what they miss is what the actor is saying in the situation. What they’re saying is important because it’s going to lead you down the path that’s going to help you in the scenario. Remember that not everything is going to be in the scenario. Not every piece of information that you have to know is going to be in the scenario. The actors may say something that’s going to help elaborate on something that was in the scenario.

Be very, very careful especially in actor-based scenarios. Listen to every work coming out of their mouth. You have to really understand what they’re telling you so that you can properly move forward with your response.

[20:30] Mistake #6: Talking Too Much

With the MMI, you’re given a range of time, usually two minutes, inside the room. Then you have anywhere between 6-8 minutes inside the room. Students think that you have to fill up the whole time. That is false. There are usually followup questions that the interviewer has. You don’t really want to be talking the whole time and you’re not giving any chance for the actor to talk to you. Give your answer and then shut up. Let the interviewer or the actor talk.

'Give your answer. Don't fill up the entire time. Listen for the followup questions that are going to lead you down another path.'Click To Tweet

[22:25] Final Thoughts

By understanding some of these traps and mistakes students make, as you prepare with your MMI, hopefully you won’t be making these mistakes. And hope you really enjoy the MMI!

As I’m preparing a book about MMI, I would like to know your thoughts. What information do you want there? Send me an email at ryan@medicalschoolhq.net with the subject line: MMI Book and let me know!


PMY 152: The MMI: Everything You Need to Know About the Multiple Mini Interview

CASPer test