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MMI Medical Interview

MMI Medical Interview Questions

Posted: November 06, 2017

NIE answers all your questions on MMI Medical Interviews in Australia

How do MMI Medical Interviews function at Australian Universities?

The Australian Medical Interview landscape is varied and challenging, and there are no two medical interview formats that duplicate across universities. Whereas medical programs for universities such as USyd, UNDS, UOW, ANU, Melbourne, Monash, Deakin, Griffith, Flinders, UNDF and UWA all use forms of Multiple Mini-Interviews (MMIs) to assess the calibre of applicants, many other medical schools use structured or semi-structured panel interviews instead, or hybrid formats, or are gradually integrating various facets and advantages of MMIs into parts of their assessments.

Furthermore, different Australian universities have different structural requirements for their MMIs, which in turn require different cognitive, social and higher-order skills from applicants. For example:

  • Some universities offer just 5 stations, while some others require 6, 7, 8 and 10. And some of these include rest stations, whilst others do not.
  • Australian university MMIs offer station lengths of 5, 6, 7, 8 and 10 minutes, and some of these include or do not include reading time.
  • Some universities supply material to read per station, whereas others do not, and the material may be granted an allotted processing time (i.e. on a sign), unlimited processing time (i.e. on a slip of paper), or a socially defined processing time (i.e. on a laminated paper upon the interview desk).
  • The content and breadth of reading varies between institutions. For instance, you may find the background of a question, i.e. scenario, posted on door with 2 minutes’ reading time allowed, with no actual questions framed to give that background context. Meanwhile, some universities label their written materials with titles such as Ethics, Communications Skills, Leadership, or Responsibility, giving applicants a further clue to the focus of the criteria for that station.
  • Criteria itself differs between universities and levels of program entry (undergraduate, post-graduate), and also by areas of specialty.
  • Various universities espouse tradition and expectation within their MMI materials, dependably referencing specialty areas (such as rural or indigenous health) or focuses of concern based on previous student populations (such as difficulties living/studying in isolated locations).
  • Some universities keep their MMIs contained to the basics of direct questions and scenario questions, whilst others include actor scenarios, puzzle booths, practical tasks, presentation exercises, detechnicalisation, and mixed stations.
  • MMI booths usually include a question background and a background set, however this question set varies between 1 to 6 questions per university. Some interviewer training requires structured questions to be asked regardless of whether the applicant has covered that information already or not, and some question sets cover the majority of the criteria in the initial 2-3 questions so that timing loses its emphasis in terms of criteria-matching when applicants run over time.
  • Some universities use social tactics during MMI interviews, such as where interviewers will show up in two separate stations, referencing your first station’s answer within the following station. Other MMIs are very straight-forward, going out of their way to make applicants comfortable.
  • MMI questions across different universities may or may not cover the standard topics of: motivation to study medicine, health knowledge, program knowledge, ethics, bias, personality traits, empathy, critical thinking, and a gamut of communication skills which generally include conflict resolution, problem solving under pressure, team attitudes and leadership skills.
  • Some universities present their selection criteria, whilst others do not. Many universities share overlapping criteria that is referenced by different terms. For instance, ‘Advocacy’ at Monash overlaps with ‘Awareness of social diversity’ at UWA.
  • MMI interviewers may introduce follow-up questions that challenge, inspire, explore or assist, and these may or may not be part of the structured interview process.

These examples of differences between Australian Universities that conduct MMI Medical Interviews serve to illustrate that there is no one-size-fits-all way that MMIs function, and no simplistic way that they can be prepared for. Especially if a medical applicant is offered multiple interviews across universities.

University-specific Medical Interview Training via Skype or in-person may not be an option for all applicants due to funds or time management, so NIE also offers the below information that the inspiring medical practitioner may find useful whilst preparing for their MMI. Students may also find our 158 page Medical Interviews Tuition Book to be of help, including a bonus of almost 200 real medical school sample questions (although please note that this manual comes for free with NIE’s Medical Interview Training, so don’t double up needlessly)!

What is an MMI (Multiple Mini-Interview) for Medical Entry?

MMIs are an alternative to the traditional panel-interview format of selecting applicants for a place in Medical School, and they have been progressively introduced throughout universities since McMaster University pioneered the use of them in 2002. The MMI increases the reliability of the medical interview in assessing the suitability of a candidate to study and practice medicine.

Most MMIs include a series of short conversations between you and different assessors who are located in separate booths, stations or rooms. In Australian universities, and average of successive interviews take place under the guiding hand of admissions staff, and commonly a scheduled break is offered at a rest station. The average time length of an MMI station is 7 minutes, with 2 minutes between booths, and the entire process often takes over an hour.

A typical MMI process allows an applicant to receive a scenario or open-ended question before interview rotation begins, with a short period of time granted to prepare an answer. Depending on the university and their criteria, this preparation time may be best spent defining social or medical topics of importance, recalling topical personal examples, planning a more complicated answering structure, or mentally exploring the different angles and matching criteria within the subject matter.

Usually an interview room is then entered, where a set time is spent in conversation with an interviewer. The time limits, numbers of follow-up questions, and formats of these conversations differ greatly between universities. Once time is up for that question or scenario, the applicant’s performance is scored, and a short break is sometimes given before the next station is entered into.

MMI booths are varied. Multiple booths usually test empathy and soft skills such as breaking difficult news (i.e. telling a patient as a doctor that they have Leukaemia, or letting a customer know as a medical receptionist that you cannot schedule them in for an important appointment). Actors and actresses are commonly used to push the social boundaries in scenarios by crying real tears, shouting aggressively, or by suffering a medical emergency such as a panic attack. Conflict resolution skills are generally included, alongside questions that allow applicants to demonstrate balance between the traits of empathy and critical thinking. Other stations may test communication skills, asking an applicant to describe a picture to another person who must draw from their verbal advice without any feedback, or by explaining a concept to a child, elderly person, or newly arrived immigrant with limited English skills. Traditional questions tend to focus on motivation to study or practice medicine, wok experience, challenges, leadership and team member experiences, mistakes, community involvement, and knowledge of the university and the program offered. ‘Future pacing’ into your career in 5 or 10 years’ time is sometimes required, and ‘past pacing’ into your developmental history on your path towards medicine is common. A working knowledge of ethics as a student, doctor and patient can sometime be explored, alongside social issues, medical advancements, and global, national, or state-wide current topics.

One thing that all university MMIs have in common is that there are truly no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ answers when it comes to student performance. Each assessment instead focusses on your underlying skills in areas such as communication, decision-making and critical thinking.


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