Through some connections with a volunteer group, I was one of several students invited to participate in a mock interview at my top choice medical school. The school uses the Multiple Mini-Interview (MMI) format, which is a closed application interview process. The interviewee rotates between several stations. Outside the door to each room is a prompt. There are 2 minutes to read and prepare the prompt. The interviewee then enters the room, introduces and greets the interviewer, then discusses the prompt for a timed 7 minutes. After 7 minutes are up, the interviewee leaves the room and has a minute to go to the next station.
This is becoming a more common interview process for medical schools. The interviewers don’t know anything about you, except what you tell them and how you present yourself. I think this gives an advantage to non-trads like myself, as we don’t often have the luxury of relying on GPA and MCAT scores to glide through the admissions process. (That’s not saying we don’t have good GPAs or MCATs, just that it looks different than the traditional pre-med application).
We only had 3 stations, as it was a practice interview. I wore my hair back in a bun, a solid black business dress, and black pumps. I would have worn my suit, but I found out it is now too large to fit me. The dress was several sizes too big as well, but it was less noticeable (especially given that my suit skirt wouldn’t stay up – not the kind of impression you want to make!). The prompts were all from last year, which is why they are allowed to use them in the practice interviews. It’s also why I’m not subject to any confidentiality agreement, as I would be with an actual interview.
My first station offered an imaginary prompt something along the lines of this:
You are a member of the Student Disciplinary Committee at your medical school. Recently it has become public knowledge that several students of the medical school are part of a Facebook group that posts offensive content, even naming some of the medical students. You had no prior knowledge of this group, nor were you involved. Determine appropriate punishment of these students.
This was my worst station. I had an answer, but it only took me 2-3 minutes to speak. While my interviewer appreciated some of my consideration for the victims of the online bullying, she wanted me to address multiple points of view for punishment. I also didn’t think to propose preventative solutions to keep it from happening in the future.
The second station was probably my best, likely because it involved a question of patient care:
You have a patient from El Salvador who speaks limited English. He is in between jobs and lives temporarily with relatives. He has uncontrolled Type II Diabetes. He is distrustful of healthcare providers because he is in the country illegally. How would you treat this patient?
The beginning of the prompt introduced the idea that healthcare was a basic human right which could not be achieved without removing obstacles such as poverty. I first established that I agreed that his status as an illegal immigrant did not mean he doesn’t “deserve” healthcare. I discussed how I would address his multiple issues (communication, affording medications, etc.) by suggesting resources that I have in my current clinic (such as social workers, samples, etc.). I felt I was able to supply a multi-faceted response that took up our time.
The third prompt seemed the easiest, but I realized afterwards that I had missed some good opportunities to promote myself:
Lead a two-way dialogue on any topic you’d like. Maintain the conversation for the entire 7 minutes.
I knew my interviewer (which is very unlikely to happen during the actual interview). He knows I’m a foodie, so we I started asking him about his favorite foods, which got us on the topic of China. His notes later said I should have mentioned my pre-med journey. When we discussed China, I mentioned my prior cholecystectomy. I knew I should have begun talking about how it had started me down the path of medicine and yet I let it pass. I won’t be making that mistake in the future.
Overall, I learned two major lessons about the MMI:
1) Tie in your personal experience whenever you can! Remember this is a closed application interview. They don’t know anything about you, so you have to tell them. Explain your decisions and logic based on past experiences. My feedback from the interviewers praised my personal references, or else addressed the lack of drawing from that experience.
2) Keep talking. It’ll take some time for me to develop the skill to round out my arguments/positions, but there should never be a long period of silence in your interview. The interviewers usually have follow-up questions, but my first station did not. After 3 minutes, I couldn’t think of anything else to say. She should have marked off my score (but didn’t because she’s a sweetheart).
Which type of interview would you prefer: MMI or traditional?