How to prepare for multiple mini interviews (MMIs)
For many students the interview component of the selection process can be the most daunting. Candidates are generally concerned with the possibility of having challenging questions thrown at them during a panel interview or a MMI. With the MMI in particular, a student’s anxiety will often cause them to struggle when forming clear, structured and logical responses during the preparation time before each station (if preparation time is offered – MMI structure may vary depending on the institution) or during their allotted response time. A candidate’s performance and ultimately whether or not they are offered a place in a course like Medicine, predominantly comes down to how they prepare just like all of the other selection criteria – the UMAT and ATAR (or equivalent).
One of the best ways to prepare for not only an MMI but also a panel interview is to anticipate the types of questions or scenarios that you are likely to be faced with and practice responding to them. You do not necessarily want to rote learn your answers and just speel them off unnaturally in the interview, because panelists and interviewers will be able to see through it. Practice responding in a natural manner, calm and logically so that when you are in your interview you are actually able to engage with your interviewer as opposed to speaking at them.
The following are a few tips to help you get started with your interview preparation:
- SEE THE BIG PICTURE:
First consider why you are having the interview in the first place – you are trying to get into a Medical or Health Science course. Therefore, when responding to any scenarios or questions, answer them in a way that suggests to the interviewer that you would make a great Medical student and hence a great physician. In order to do this you should compile a list of all the qualities that make a great doctor or dentist or physiotherapist (or any relevant profession), things such as integrity, critical thinking, logical reasoning, excellent interpersonal skills and motivation come to mind (however there are more). Throughout your preparation practice integrating these qualities into your responses so that in your interview you show that you can demonstrate these important characteristics and would therefore be an excellent medical student and professional thereafter.
- TIME MANAGEMENT IS KEY:
One of the major things that students struggle with whilst in an interview is pacing their answers so that they are able to answer the question effectively without their response being too short or too long and rambly. If your response is too short it may appear to the interviewer that you did not really consider or think about your response and just said the first thing that came into your mind and that you cannot really expand on the topic. However, a response that is too lengthy can also suggest that you are struggling with the question. The best answers will address all aspects of the question in a clear and concise manner allowing candidate to show that they have thought about their responses and can communicate their ideas effectively as well as ending their response appropriately (knowing how and when to end one’s responses is very important). Remember that in an interview like an MMI, once time is up at a station the interview must end – even if you have not finished answering the question yet. Practice your responses with a time limit of about 7-8 minutes to condition yourself to answering questions adequately in this amount of time. It is also a really good idea to wear a watch that is visible on the day so that you know where you are at within the station time frame.
- LISTEN BEFORE YOU SPEAK:
If you listen carefully to your interviewer’s questions or scenarios you will be able to pick up on certain prompts that they give you in order to provide you with some direction. The prompts they give will often highlight the specific issues that are the focus of the question or that station. You should also listen very carefully to the cues that the interviewer provides so that you can capitalise off any new information that is introduced. Ensure that your answer responds to the prompts or cues of he question. One of the hardest challenges in an interview is to actually answer the question you are given, without going off on a tangent. Like an essay – do not make up you own questions and respond to them and do not ramble on about irrelevant issues. Always answer the question you are given!
- MOCK INTERVIEWS:
There are many organisations that provide services such as interview preparation courses. They can provide you with guides about interview preparation and generally involve a mock interview. One of the best ways to prepare for an interview is to simulate the experience so that you know what to expect and also so that you build confidence as well as receiving professional feedback about your performance and pointers to help you improve. You will also discuss strategies to help with formulating appropriate responses and answering the tricky questions. and tips about body language which can be one of the unsung heroes in an interview. Having sat a mock interview students generally find that the are more cool headed and organised on their interview day.
Success in any interview situation cannot be guaranteed, however your performance can always be improved. To improve your performance you should become familiar with the interview process, particularly if it has a specific structure like a MMI. Also, you should recognise your weaknesses and devise strategies that allow you to overcome them in the actual interview. It is much better to assess your weaknesses prior to the interview rather than in the interview so that you can combat them. Poise throughout an interview and the ability to stay cool and calm may just be able to put you over the line and finally, sell yourself! You may know why you would make a good medical student, so make sure the interviewer knows too!