All UK medical schools require potential candidates to attend an interview as part of their selection process, with the majority of medical schools now adopting the Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) format.
Unlike traditional panel interviews, an MMI, as the name suggests, consists of a variety of different ‘stations’, each presented as individual mini interviews. Although the majority of UK medical schools do use a MMI framework, the execution can vary considerably, meaning the practical experience of the MMI may be very different depending on your chosen university.
During the MMI, you’ll be presented with various different stations, each assessing your suitability for medical school. You'll be given a set time in which to complete each mini interview, which is usually between five and ten minutes per station. Planning or preparation time, of approximately one minute, is also usually provided prior to starting each one. This allows time for you to read any instructions or information and to briefly prepare yourself for the task. However, the planning time is not always given, for example if you’re undertaking a panel-style station, so be prepared that you may go straight into an interview. Even with planning time, you’ll be transitioning quickly between stations, which can seem quite intense, but the whole process will generally only last approximately one hour.
The number of stations, the time set for each one, and the overall length of the MMI will vary depending on the medical school.
Within your MMI, you may experience some or all of the following types of stations:
Traditional panel style with interview questions or scenarios This will include a small selection panel who will assess your suitability to study medicine through a series of questions or discussions based around set scenarios. You may be asked questions relating to your personal attributes, your motivation to study medicine or your interest and knowledge of the medical field. Alternatively, you may be presented with scenarios or topics, for example relating to NHS current topics or linked to medical ethics, and asked to discuss your views in relation to these. There’s more information about the different types of questions you may experience below.
Role play scenarios These types of stations usually involve working with an actor and require you to role play a scenario which you’re likely to encounter during your medical training or working as a doctor. The situation will not always be clinical based, but will aim to replicate the skills required in common clinical interactions. For example, this may involve breaking bad news, dealing with a mistake you have made or discussing someone’s concerns with them; all of these scenarios could equally be given to you within a clinical context, but they will not necessarily be. Regardless of their context, these role play scenarios aim to assess core skills and values required for medical school, including your empathy, your communication and listening skills and your ability to deal with challenging situations.
Tasks involving relaying information These types of tasks aim to assess your communication skills, specifically related to your ability to simplify information and present it in a clear and concise way; a key skill required when relaying complex medical information to patients. This could be framed in a multitude of ways, for example asking you to share or discuss information from a short clip or written piece, or explain a common concept or even medical term; but whatever the topic, the emphasis is on how you communicate the necessary information, to ensure that it is easy to understand and audience-friendly. Although the task may include an academic element, such as explaining a medical or scientific term, it’s main aim is not to assess your academic ability, but rather your communication skills.
A group task or group interview The intention of this type of station is to assess skills, such as communication, teamwork and possibly even leadership, which are key for studying and working within medicine. Regardless of the group task that is given, it will be your ability to demonstrate these core skills which will be paramount to you performing well during this mini interview. If you’ve applied for a medical school which adopts a problem-based learning method, it’s possible you’ll encounter this type of station, as a means of assessing your suitability for this teaching style and ensuring that you will thrive in a group work environment.
It’s likely that you’ll experience a combination of these mini interview stations throughout your MMI, with the aim of assessing your skills and qualities in different situations, to ensure your suitability for a career in medicine.
See the COVID-19 section below for how the MMI format and different scenarios may be affected for the 2021 entry.
Generally, your performance will be scored at each station by different trained assessors, using set criteria outlined by the individual medical school. More information about their assessment criteria and how you will be scored during the MMI may be available on your chosen medical school’s website or in the information you receive with your interview invite.
The challenge with the MMI is demonstrating the required skills and attributes at each station in the relatively short time given. However, undertaking a variety of mini interviews which are scored individually, presents multiple possibilities to meet the assessment criteria. This is particularly positive if you perform worse than you’d hope within one scenario, as each station is a new opportunity to showcase your skills.
Medical Interview Questions / University Interview Questions
MMI interview questions aim to assess that you have the required knowledge, skills and values to support you throughout your training and within your future career. Through the different mini interviews, the selection panel / assessors will explore areas such as the following:
Your motivation for medicine There’s more detail about the sometimes dreaded ‘why medicine’ question below, but essentially medical schools want to establish why you have applied to study medicine, what your motivator is and how dedicated you are to pursuing it as a career. Selection panels will be looking for candidates to demonstrate that they have considered their decision carefully and are committed to their chosen career path.
The depth and breadth of your interest To delve into your engagement with medical news, research and developments, which demonstrates not only your interest in the profession but also the steps you have taken to deepen your knowledge and understanding of healthcare.
Your personal attributes Focusing on the key skills and qualities required for a career in medicine, including empathy, communication, teamwork and problem solving skills. These will span across a variety of the stations, with skills such as communication likely to be assessed during each mini interview, regardless of the context and the other areas being assessed.
Your personal insight Assessing your understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, which in turn supports you to identify how to continue to learn and develop. This includes being able to reflect on your skills, how you learn and how you deal with stress, criticism, mistakes and failures, to better understand how you can make improvements.
Your work experience This links to ensuring that your decision to apply to medical school is well considered, stations relating to your work experience will explore your commitment to studying medicine, the experience you gained and your understanding of the demands of the role.
Your knowledge of key topics This includes your understanding of key issues relating to the NHS and current topics, as well as your knowledge of the NHS and medical ethics. This links closely to your engagement with medical news, research and developments, which will support you with stations relating to key topics and medical politics.
Your interest in your chosen medical school Medical schools are looking for applicants who have researched and carefully considered where they have chosen to apply, and therefore are knowledgeable, enthusiastic and show a genuine interest in their university, the curriculum they offer and the opportunities available.
‘Why Medicine’ Answer
The question of why you want to study medicine can seem like the most straightforward, yet daunting question within a medical school interview. You may be worried about standing out from the crowd or giving a deep and meaningful explanation, but this is often how applicants end up answering with a cliche response. Our advice would be to keep it simple! The question asked why you want to study medicine so focus on giving an honest and personal response. To help you to prepare, spend some time reflecting on your interests and experiences which have led you to applying for medical school. Finally, avoid exaggerating, either your reasons for wanting to be a doctor or your experiences that have influenced you.
MMI Preparation / How to Prepare for the Multiple Mini Interview
By dedicating as much time as you can to preparing for your MMI you’ll ensure that you give yourself the best possible chance of being successful. Although it’s always difficult to predict what MMI interview questions or scenarios you’ll be faced with, you can prepare by ensuring that you feel confident discussing the key areas outlined in the ‘Medical Interview Questions’ section above and that you have relevant examples to support your points.
Some key tips to help you to prepare for the interview are:
Practise, practise, practise Practise answering example questions as much as you can, this will help you to develop your confidence and your ability to answer questions under pressure. Try to incorporate different questions around the same topics or similar questions, to gain experience of identifying what the question is asking you and ensuring that your response is relevant, rather than shaped by what you want to share instead.
Identify areas for improvement As you’re working through the key areas listed above, ensure that you take note of any areas which you need to improve and dedicate additional time to developing these. This could be additional reading or research you need to carry out, gaining more experience in certain areas or developing core skills.
Keep a notebook of useful information Try to get into a habit of writing down useful information or experiences as they occur, to support you when you come to prepare for your interview. By making notes of interesting journals or new articles that you’ve read, or reflecting on your work experiences or extracurricular activities, you’ll have a wealth of information to draw upon when you’re preparing for your interview and trying to identify valuable examples to support your answers.
Make the most of your opportunities Although your work experience will be valuable in your preparations for medical school, ensure that you make the most of other opportunities that you may also have; this is especially important this year, when your opportunities for work experience may be limited due to COVID-19 restrictions. This could be anything from conversations with medical professionals if the opportunity arises, or current students if you attend an open day, to taking advantage of opportunities to develop your skills through extracurricular activities, or extend your knowledge through additional reading, online talks or conferences.
When your MMI arrives, trust in your preparations and your ability to complete any task you’re given, and remember the following key points:
Use your time wisely Use your preparation time to identify what skills and characteristics are being assessed, as well as what you may encounter and how you’re going to approach the task initially. Your time is limited for each mini interview, so this will support you to meet the challenge of demonstrating the required skills within the given time.
Answer the question given Avoid trying to bend questions to suit what you have prepared or what you would prefer to share with the interviewers; this may make it seem like you’re unable to answer the question given and will make it difficult for interviewers to score you points against the assessment criteria for that question. Preparing for general topics, rather than set questions, and practising with a variety of questions, will develop your ability to identify what questions are asking you and how to draw upon skills and experiences to ensure that you address it within your answer.
Avoid rehearsed answers This links closely to the above tip, preparing set answers will not only sound rehearsed to interviewers, but will also make answering the question more challenging, as it’s difficult to predict what each medical school will ask, and therefore you’ll be more inclined to attempt to bend questions to suit your rehearsed answer. Instead, focus on preparing for topics, skills and qualities that you may be asked about, ensuring that you can confidently answer and support this with valuable examples from your work experience and extracurricular activities.
Secrets for Success
Dedicating sufficient time to preparing and practising for the MMI is the most valuable thing you can do to ensure your success. Remember to prepare for the key areas given in the question section and practise a variety of questions and scenarios, to become comfortable responding to the unknown. Where possible, when you’re answering questions, support these with meaningful examples, drawing upon your work experience, volunteering or extracurricular activities to demonstrate your skills, knowledge and experience.
Finally, take assurance from the fact that you’ve been invited to interview, showing that the selection panel is interested in your application, believe in your own preparation for the interview, and approach it with confidence.
There’s a strong possibility that your MMI may be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic; for entry for September 2021 many medical schools have confirmed that their interview process will take place virtually. This may also alter the usual format of the interview, particularly the different stations you’ll experience. The Medical Schools Council has produced ‘Guidance for candidates taking online interviews’ which you may find useful.
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