The days of traditional interviewing with 30 minute conversations about your favorite restaurants in Harvard Square are over. With more and more medical schools moving towards the multiple mini interview (MMI) format, it’s important to know what types of questions to expect and how to navigate each one.
You have just received lab results diagnosing a patient with cancer. The patient’s son pulls you aside and asks that you not tell his father the diagnosis because he believes it would be too much stress for him to handle. What do you do?
This is by and large the most common type of interview station, and you are likely to see many of your 10 stations revolving around medical ethics. Does this mean you need to start reading up on hospital policies and ethical dilemmas? No. This is really just a chance to show: 1) that you are a human being and 2) that you are capable of seeing dilemmas from different perspectives. The key here is to explain the conflict from ALL points of view before stating your stance. Unlike in life, there’s nothing wrong with being wishy-washy here.
2. Role play
Sometimes medical schools will have actors enact a scenario in which you will have to take on the role of a physician or med student. Examples could be talking to another med student who is struggling, or delivering bad news to a patient. Again, the main idea here is to show that you are a normal person who’s capable of having normal interactions. Try to ignore the evaluator in the corner, and don’t think about acting. Basically, they are testing your bedside manner in an artificial, forced environment, so the key here is to really buy into the scenario.
3. Teamwork with another applicant
Almost every MMI will include one station that requires completing a challenge with a fellow applicant. This usually involves one person instructing another to complete a task (like stacking blocks in a certain pattern or drawing a picture without seeing it). A lot of applicants get tripped up here by the mentality of competition (i.e. how do I make myself look better than my partner?) and this is 100% wrong. In medical school and as a physician, your colleagues are your teammates. Honestly, this is a life lesson more than anything – you will always go further with a team. When you make your partner look good, you’ll look good.
4. Logic puzzle
This is probably one of the stations that applicants are most worried about. They think this is a station that tests intelligence, and that this is what medical schools are looking for. And yes, critical thinking and logical reasoning are important for medicine, but patient care and teamwork are really the pillars so if you do well on the types mentioned above, you’re pretty much set. For the occasional logic puzzle, the important thing is to really talk through each step. Sometimes you could be completely off track, but they’re not looking for the right answer, they’re looking at how you think. So if you explain how you are approaching the problem and why you are doing things a certain way, you’re 80% there (even if you get the wrong answer).
The MMI can actually be pretty stress-free and even enjoyable if you just remember a few key tips. Explain your thinking. Be a good teammate. And don’t sweat the details.
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