Medical School MMI Interviews: The Complete Guide

Updated on: December 3, 2023
Photo of author
Written By Dr Ollie

Every article is fact-checked by a medical professional. However, inaccuracies may still persist.

Medical school MMI interviews have become an increasingly popular method for assessing applicants in recent years.

The Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) is a style of interview that allows for a more accurate representation of an applicant’s abilities, ultimately helping medical schools identify the most suitable candidates for their courses.

By exposing applicants to a variety of scenarios, MMI interviews aim to evaluate essential skills such as communication, critical thinking, and teamwork.

In this complete guide, I’m aiming to outline everything you’ll need to know to excel at your interview and ultimately walk away with an offer.

Key Takeaways

  • MMI Interviews are a widespread method for assessing medical school applicants through a series of short, timed stations
  • These stations may include role-play scenarios, ethical dilemmas, or problem-solving tasks, each presenting its own challenges and opportunities for showcasing the applicant’s skills
  • Preparing for an MMI involves understanding various types of stations and honing the necessary qualities to succeed
  • You can find a series of practice MMI interview questions here

What Is An MMI?

MMI stands for Multiple Mini Interviews. It is a unique interview format commonly used by UK-based medical and dental schools for evaluating the suitability of applicants.

The MMI approach allows universities to assess various aspects of a candidate, providing a more holistic understanding of how you think, your teamwork abilities, and your character traits.

During an MMI, you will encounter several short assessments or ‘stations’, each typically lasting for 6-8 minutes.

Before each station, you will be presented with a scenario, question, or task and given a brief period to prepare your response.

The focus of each station varies, ranging from ethical dilemmas and critical thinking exercises to role-playing situations and teamwork challenges.

MMI interviews aim to evaluate not only your knowledge but also your ability to communicate effectively, make decisions under pressure, and demonstrate empathy and ethical reasoning.

The format allows medical schools to get a better understanding of your strengths and weaknesses as a potential future healthcare professional.

Why Do Medical Schools Use MMIs?

Medical schools utilise multiple mini interviews (MMIs) for several different reasons.

These interviews allow them to evaluate a wide range of essential soft skills you possess, ensuring that you are an ideal candidate for their institution.

Each station is designed to focus on various aspects of your candidature, such as communication, ethical reasoning, empathy, teamwork, and problem-solving.

This versatile approach helps schools assess your ability to handle different scenarios and challenges effectively.

Using MMIs also has several advantages over traditional, longer interviews.

Firstly, the format allows you to recover from any hiccups at one station, as your performance in each station is evaluated independently.

You can impress the next interviewer without being judged based on a previous station’s performance.

Two medical school interviewers marking a candidate
An MMI interview provides a bit of a ‘reset’ at each station

This helps create a more balanced appraisal of your skills and can enhance the fairness of the process.

Another advantage is the reduced likelihood of bias.

With multiple assessors, the results are less likely to be swayed by personal preferences or unconscious biases.

Consequently, this leads to a more accurate assessment of your capabilities.

Finally, MMIs can efficiently evaluate a large number of applicants, making the overall selection process more efficient.

By testing various aspects of your candidacy, medical schools can use the MMI format to identify the most well-rounded applicants and ensure that their chosen students possess the necessary skills and attributes to excel as a doctor.

How Does An MMI Work?

Typically, an MMI consists of six to ten stations. At each station, you will be assessed for a short duration, usually around 6-8 minutes.

These stations may have their own interviewer, or you might find an actor or a medical student interacting with you to evaluate your skills that demonstrate your aptitude for medical school.

As you progress through the MMI, you will notice that stations can vary widely in the aspects they assess.

You might be asked to discuss ethical scenarios, engage in role-plays, or demonstrate strong communication skills.

The focus is on evaluating various aspects of your personality, ability to think on your feet, and readiness to undertake the challenges of a medical or dental programme.

Remember, you’ll have limited time to make an impression at each station, so engage fully with the assigned task or discussion, and remember to showcase your depth of knowledge, empathy, and professionalism.

Types Of MMI Stations

In medical school MMIs, you will encounter a variety of stations designed to assess different aspects of your skills, knowledge, and attributes.

It’s important to familiarise yourself with these possible stations in order to help prepare for your interview. Here are some common types of MMI stations:

  • Role-play
  • Giving instructions
  • Ethical scenarios
  • Professional judgement
  • Prioritisation
  • Calculation and data interpretation
  • PBL stations
  • Traditional interview
  • Healthcare hot topics
  • Describing an image
Medical School MMI Interviews Pixel Infographic

I’m going to look at each of these common stations in turn, explaining what each station involves, what it’s testing and how you can do well in it.

Role-Play Stations

These stations test your empathy, communication skills, and ability to handle difficult situations. You may be asked to interact with a simulated patient or family member, addressing their concerns, providing support or breaking bad news.

What The Station Involves

During a Role-Play Station in MMI interviews, you will be placed in a live scenario where you’re given a role, such as a doctor, medical student, or friend.

You’ll need to act out the scene with an interviewer, who may be a trained actor. This type of station is designed to simulate real-life situations you might encounter working in medicine.

What It’s Testing

The primary aim of role-play stations is to assess your communication skills in a real-time setting.

This is a crucial aspect of medicine, as effective communication plays a significant role in patient care and working within a medical team.

Additionally, these stations may also test your empathy, professionalism, ability to make judgements under pressure, and consideration of patient safety.

How To Ace It

To succeed in a Role-Play Station, consider the following tips:

  1. Maintain good eye contact: Engage with the actor in the scene and demonstrate active listening.
  2. Clarify terms and issues: If you’re unsure of any terms or specific problems, ask for clarification before proceeding.
  3. Structure your response: Break down complex situations into manageable chunks, and approach them methodically.
  4. Practice active listening: Ask open-ended questions, and pay attention to the actor’s feelings and concerns.
  5. Show empathy and support: Validate the emotions and experiences of the actor to build rapport and trust.
  6. Think before responding: Take a moment to collect your thoughts, and provide well-reasoned, appropriate responses.
  7. Be mindful of body language: Ensure that your posture and gestures convey openness and a willingness to help.
  8. Be concise and clear: Keep your responses simple and easy to understand, avoiding unnecessary jargon or confusing explanations.

Giving Instructions Stations

Giving instructions stations are all about breaking down complex tasks or ideas into easily understandable chunks.

What The Station Involves

In the giving instructions station of an MMI, you will be asked to provide a set of instructions to accomplish a specific task.

This task can be as simple as opening a box or as complex as assembling an object.

Your communication skills will be assessed as you guide the interviewer or a role player through the process.

What It’s Testing

The main objective of this station is to assess your ability to communicate effectively and clearly.

As a future medical professional, your communication skills are crucial in helping patients understand complex procedures or treatment plans.

It also tests your patience and ability to adapt your communication style based on the needs of the person on the receiving end.

How To Ace It

To ace the giving instructions station, follow these tips:

  1. Keep instructions clear and simple: Use concise language and avoid jargon or overly technical terms that may confuse the listener. Break down tasks into small, easily manageable parts.
  2. Use supportive language: Encourage the listener as they complete each task. Let them know they’re doing a good job, and maintain a positive attitude.
  3. Check comprehension: After explaining each step, ask the listener if they understand or require clarification. This allows you to adjust your method of communication and ensure they comprehend the instructions.
  4. Stay patient: Be patient with the listener, remembering that effective communication can take time. Don’t become frustrated or irritated if they struggle to follow your instructions.

Medical Ethics Stations

In a medical school interview, it’s important to demonstrate your understanding of key ethical principles and balance empathy with professionalism.

What The Station Involves

At a medical ethics station during your MMI, you will encounter a scenario that challenges your understanding of one or more of the principles of medical ethics.

You will be asked to consider the implications of the situation and provide a well-thought-out, balanced response.

A medicine applicant answering an ethical interview question
A candidate answering a medical ethics question

These scenarios are designed to test your ethical reasoning, problem-solving abilities, and understanding of the core pillars of medical ethics: Autonomy, Justice, Beneficence, and Non-Maleficence.

What It’s Testing

Medical Ethics stations are designed to assess your ability to function well under ethically challenging situations that you might encounter in medical practice.

It will test your understanding of the four pillars of medical ethics and your ability to apply them in diverse contexts.

Additionally, this station will test your communication skills, empathy towards patients, and your aptitude for teamwork and collaboration when dealing with ethical dilemmas.

How To Ace It

To succeed at a medical ethics station, follow these tips:

  1. Familiarise yourself with the four pillars of medical ethics: Make sure you have a solid understanding of Autonomy, Justice, Beneficence, and Non-Maleficence.
  2. Stay calm and composed: Take a deep breath and think through the situation before answering. This will help you to organise your thoughts and present a clear, cohesive response.
  3. Acknowledge the complexity of the situation: Recognise that ethical dilemmas rarely have a single correct answer. Show that you are weighing the pros and cons of each possible solution.
  4. Use a systematic approach: When faced with an ethical dilemma, consider each of the four pillars of medical ethics in turn, and discuss how each one may be impacted by the situation.
  5. Demonstrate empathy and understanding: Show that you care about the individuals involved in the dilemma and acknowledge the emotions and difficulties they may be experiencing.
  6. Communicate effectively: Be clear, concise, and articulate when presenting your thoughts. Use plain language and avoid jargon.

Professional Judgement Stations

In a similar manner to medical ethics stations, professional judgement stations aim to put you in a situation where there’s no easy answer- to see how you deal with sticky situations.

What The Station Involves

In a professional judgement station, you will be presented with a scenario that requires you to exercise your judgement skills.

These scenarios often involve ethical dilemmas, decision-making, or prioritising tasks.

You will be expected to provide a well-reasoned response that demonstrates your understanding of the situation, whilst clearly communicating your thought process.

What It’s Testing

The professional judgement station is designed to assess several core competencies that medical professionals should possess.

These include critical thinking, ethical reasoning, communication skills, empathy, and an understanding of the broader implications of decisions made in a healthcare setting.

It’s important to remember that the purpose of this station is not to test your knowledge of medicine, but rather to evaluate how you handle complex situations and exercise judgement.

How To Ace It

To excel at a Professional Judgement Station, follow these key strategies:

  1. Stay calm and composed: Don’t rush into your response. Take a moment to process the scenario and remember that demonstrating a thoughtful approach is crucial.
  2. Identify the key issues: Break down the scenario into its essential elements, and ensure that you address each aspect in your response. Be mindful of potential ethical considerations and challenges that may arise.
  3. Communicate clearly and concisely: Present your reasoning in a logical and easy-to-follow manner, and avoid the use of jargon or overly technical terms.
  4. Consider multiple perspectives: Demonstrate empathy and understanding by acknowledging the views and emotions of others involved in the scenario.
  5. Provide a balanced solution: Avoid taking an extreme stance, and instead present a balanced response that takes into account the values, priorities, and concerns of those involved in the scenario.

Prioritisation Stations

As a junior doctor, you’ll often be forced to prioritise which jobs you need to do first and which patients require immediate review. This station aims to select this skillset in an applicant.

What The Station Involves

In prioritisation stations, you are presented with a scenario in which you have to prioritise certain objects or actions over each other given limited resources.

For example, you might be asked to select five essential items for a camping trip from a table of random objects within a limited time frame.

What It’s Testing

These stations assess your ability to think rationally, make time-pressured decisions, and cope under pressure in timed conditions.

The goal is to evaluate your logical reasoning, problem-solving abilities, and prioritisation skills, which are crucial for medical professionals in real-life situations where they must allocate resources and make important decisions.

How To Ace It

To perform well in prioritisation stations, keep the following tips in mind:

  1. Stay calm and focused: Maintain a clear head and resist the urge to rush, despite the time constraints.
  2. Identify key factors: Determine which factors should drive your prioritisation process (e.g., safety, effectiveness, urgency) based on the scenario provided.
  3. Use logical reasoning: Explain the rationale behind your choices, demonstrating your thought process and ability to think critically.
  4. Strike a balance: Show that you can balance competing priorities and make well-considered decisions in challenging situations.

Calculation And Data Interpretation Stations

Although you may not have thought it, maths, calculations and data all play pivotal roles in medicine and being a good doctor.

What The Station Involves

During a medical school MMI, one of the stations you might encounter is the calculation and data interpretation station.

This station tests your ability to understand and analyse graphical data accurately and quickly. You may be given line graphs, bar charts, or other types of visual data to interpret.

You will be asked specific questions related to the data, which might involve simple calculations or analysis, such as identifying trends or comparing different variables.

What It’s Testing

The purpose of this station is to assess your numerical reasoning, critical thinking, and data analysis skills, as well as your ability to perform under pressure.

These skills are essential for medical students and future doctors because they help you make informed decisions based on evidence and efficiently navigate complex situations that involve data and medical statistics.

Not to mention the fact that drug dose calculations can have dire consequences if incorrectly performed.

How To Ace It

To excel in calculation and data interpretation stations, follow these tips:

  1. Practice: Familiarise yourself with different types of graphs and charts. Practice interpreting and analysing different scenarios.
  2. Read the data carefully: Before jumping into calculations, thoroughly examine the data and make sure you understand what is being represented.
  3. Stay calm: Data interpretation stations test your ability to perform under pressure. Take a deep breath and maintain your composure, focusing on the task at hand.
  4. Organise your thoughts: Develop a systematic approach to answer the questions. Break down the information and establish a clear method for working through the data.
  5. Check your calculations: Always double-check your answers before moving on to the next question, as even small mistakes can lead to incorrect conclusions.

PBL Stations

Teamwork is a significant part of practising medicine, so these stations assess your ability to work with others.

What The Station Involves

In PBL stations, you may be asked to join another candidate or a facilitator in solving a problem or participating in a group discussion.

A group of medical students working in a university seminar
Medical students working in a problem-based learning environment

These situations are designed to mimic the problem-based learning (PBL) approaches used in many medical schools across the UK.

Your performance during this activity will be carefully observed by the interviewers.

What It’s Testing

PBL MMI stations focus on evaluating your abilities in team collaboration and communication support.

Rather than assessing your suitability for PBL-based teaching styles, these stations are aimed at understanding how you perform in a team and work with others.

Essential skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and effective teamwork are all assessed in a PBL station.

How To Ace It

To excel in a PBL station, you should:

  1. Listen actively: Give your full attention to your teammates, acknowledge their input, and respond thoughtfully.
  2. Contribute effectively: Share your perspective and ideas while ensuring the overall flow and balance within the group.
  3. Demonstrate leadership ability: Step up and guide the conversation, but ensure you do not dominate the discussion.
  4. Show problem-solving skills: Identify key issues, ask relevant questions, and work with your team on potential solutions.
  5. Display empathy: Understand and respect differing opinions, and help maintain a comfortable atmosphere where everyone’s contributions can be shared.

Traditional Interview

Here, you may be evaluated on your self-awareness, ability to reflect, and insight into your strengths and weaknesses.

What The Station Involves

In a traditional interview, you’ll face a panel of interviewers who ask you various questions.

Although a traditional interview usually lasts around 20-30 minutes, a traditional interview station in an MMI tries to squeeze as much as it can into the 6-8 minutes you have.

It generally involves a mixture of questions focused on your personal qualities, motivation for studying medicine, knowledge of current medical issues, and potentially ethical scenarios.

What It’s Testing

Traditional interviews test your communication skills, ability to think critically and express yourself clearly.

Your performance in the interview will provide insights into your character, empathy, and motivation to become a doctor.

You might be asked questions such as “What’s your biggest weakness?” or “Why have you applied to this medical school?

How To Ace It

  1. Research: Be familiar with the medical school’s values and curriculum. Understand the important qualities and skills required for a medical student. Stay informed about medical news and recent developments in healthcare.
  2. Practice: Mock interviews can help you get comfortable with the format and learn how to articulate your thoughts effectively. Practise answering common questions and reflect on your experiences to enhance your responses.
  3. Be yourself: Authenticity and honesty are valued in interviews. Be sincere and genuine in your answers, demonstrating your enthusiasm for the medical profession.
  4. Structure: Organise your thoughts and provide structured responses. This helps in demonstrating clear thinking and effective communication.
  5. Confidence: Demonstrate confidence in your abilities by maintaining good eye contact and body language. Speak clearly and at a steady pace to ensure clarity in your responses.

Healthcare Hot Topics

Healthcare hot topics almost always come up at traditional interviews in one form or another, but can also be used as a station in an MMI.

What The Station Involves

At this station, you can expect to be asked about current healthcare issues, medical advancements, and ethical controversies.

BBC News is a great way to stay up-to-date with NHS hot topics

You may be given a specific scenario to discuss or be asked for your opinion on a current hot topic in healthcare.

What It’s Testing

This station aims to assess your understanding of medical news, your ability to critically analyse these topics, and your communication skills.

It tests your ability to stay informed on healthcare issues, your reasoning skills, and your ability to engage in a structured discussion.

How To Ace It

To excel at this station, follow these guidelines:

  1. Stay up-to-date with healthcare news: Regularly read reliable sources such as medical journals, news websites, and healthcare blogs.
  2. Practice: Practice discussing healthcare topics with friends, family, or peers to improve your communication skills and ability to articulate your thoughts.
  3. Use multiple perspectives: When discussing a topic, consider multiple perspectives and be prepared to present a balanced argument.
  4. Listen: Remember to listen carefully to any given scenario or question and tailor your response accordingly.

Describing An Image Station

Although it may seem simple, there really is a bit of a knack to describing an image in an MMI and not missing any important details.

What The Station Involves

The describing an image station involves presenting you with a picture (for example a painting, drawing or photograph), which you will be asked to describe in detail.

You must be able to effectively convey the contents of the image as if you were describing it to someone who cannot see it or is not present in the room with you.

What It’s Testing

This MMI station tests several critical skills for medical professionals:

  • Communication: You need to be able to accurately and effectively describe the image, using clear and concise language that can easily be understood by others.
  • Attention to detail: Describing an image requires you to carefully observe and consider all aspects of the picture, including the medium, setting, time, people, scenery, and objects.
  • Empathy: By imagining that the listener cannot see the image, you are demonstrating your ability to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, an essential quality for medical practitioners.

How To Ace It

Here are some tips on how to excel at the Describing an Image station:

  1. Use the MESTPEST framework: To ensure you cover all relevant aspects of the image, follow the MESTPEST method (Medium, Setting, Time, People, Scenery, and Things).
  2. Be methodical: Start with a general description and work your way down to specific details that are relevant and important.
  3. Use clear, concise language: Keep your descriptions straightforward and avoid using complex or ambiguous language.
  4. Consider the listener: As you describe, remember your goal is to paint a picture in the mind of the listener who cannot see the image. Tailor your descriptions accordingly.

How Are MMI Stations Scored?

The scoring system for MMI stations varies between universities, but generally, you’ll be scored in specific domains related to the station’s focus.

For example, a scoring system could consist of three domains: communication and interpersonal skills, initiative and problem-solving, and personal integrity and moral reasoning. 

Each domain might be marked out of five, so each MMI station carries a maximum score of 15. With eight stations in a typical MMI, the maximum score across all stations would be 120.

You’ll receive a score for each MMI station, with individual scores being added together to give you a total score.

One way medical schools might use your score is to have a cut-off, and if you meet or exceed this score, you may be offered a place at the university.

They may also simply rank all the candidates who attend an interview, and simply go down the list sending out offers until there’s no longer any space on the course.

How To Prepare For A Medicine MMI

To prepare effectively for a medicine MMI, follow these steps:

  1. Understand the MMI format: Familiarise yourself with the structure and types of MMI stations you may encounter. If you’re preparing for a specific university, see if you can find out what sort of stations typically come up.
  2. Reflect on your work experience: Be prepared to discuss your work experience and how it relates to your desire to study medicine. Use specific examples from your experiences to demonstrate the qualities, skills, and knowledge you have gained.
  3. Review common MMI questions: Research and review various MMI questions and scenarios you might encounter during the interview. Take note of any patterns in the questions and practise answering them in a clear and concise manner.
  4. Get familiar with medical ethics and current healthcare issues: As a medical professional, you will be expected to be familiar with the ethical principles and considerations involved in patient care and treatments. Stay informed on current healthcare issues and be prepared to discuss them during your MMI.
  5. Practice with mock interviews: To build confidence and become comfortable with the MMI format, practice with mock interviews. Invite friends, family, or mentors to participate and provide constructive feedback on your performance.

What Not To Do In An MMI

During the multiple mini interview process for medical schools, it’s crucial to prepare and practice before the big day.

Equally important, however, is to know what not to do to ensure your success. In this section, we’ll examine the pitfalls to avoid throughout your MMI experience.

  1. Fail to prepare: Preparation is key for MMI interviews. Make sure you have researched common medical ethics scenarios, current hot topics in healthcare, and practised answering sample questions. Don’t leave your preparation until the last minute; give yourself ample time to be comfortable with the material.
  2. Overlook non-verbal communication: Your body language speaks volumes, so be mindful of your posture, eye contact, and facial expressions throughout the MMI. Maintain a confident and open stance, avoid crossing your arms, and make eye contact with your interviewer. Remember to smile when appropriate and show genuine interest in what they’re saying.
  3. Be dishonest or exaggerate your experiences: Interviewers are skilled at detecting dishonesty, and lying will only serve to discredit you. When discussing your experiences, be truthful and genuine. If you’re asked about a topic you’re unfamiliar with, admit it and express your willingness to learn more, rather than trying to fake your way through the conversation.
  4. Speak too quickly or mumble: Nerves can cause you to speak too fast or mumble, making it hard for your interviewer to follow what you’re saying. Take a deep breath before answering, speak clearly and concisely, and consider the appropriate pace for conveying your points. If you stumble over your words, don’t be afraid to pause and regroup.
  5. Neglect time management: Each MMI station has a time limit, typically between 5 and 10 minutes. Practice working within this timeframe, and make sure you’re concise in your responses. Avoid going off on tangents or spending too much time on a single aspect of the question, as this can leave you with insufficient time to address other key points.

MMI FAQs

How many stations does a medicine MMI have?

Medicine MMIs typically consist of multiple stations ranging from 6 to 10. The exact number varies depending on the medical school and their specific requirements. Each station is designed to assess different skills and attributes relevant to being a doctor.

How long do MMI stations last?

MMI stations usually last between 5 to 10 minutes each, depending on the medical school conducting the interview. You will be given a predetermined amount of time to read the prompt and prepare your response before entering the station. Once the time is up, you will move on to the next station.

How hard is an MMI interview?

MMI interviews can be challenging, as they test a wide variety of skills and attributes that are essential for success in the medical profession. The difficulty is dependent on your level of preparation and familiarity with the interview format. By practising sample MMI questions and honing your communication and critical thinking skills, you can increase your chances of performing well during the actual interview.

What should you wear for an MMI interview?

Dressing professionally is crucial for MMI interviews, as people will subconsciously judge you on your appearance. Most candidates opt for conservative, business attire such as a suit or dress with a blazer. Remember to wear minimal accessories and choose neutral colours to convey a professional image.

What should you bring to an MMI?

Before attending an MMI interview, check if there are specific requirements or documents needed by the medical school. In general, bring a form of identification, a copy of your personal statement, and any relevant invitations or instructions from the medical school.

Final Thoughts

I still remember the nerves I had before going in for my MMI with the University of Leicester.

After the interview, I genuinely thought I’d completely ruined my chances of ever getting in… But, as it turned out, I was lucky enough to get an offer and ultimately ended up studying there!

The key to success is to showcase your ability to think critically, empathise with others, work well in a team, and demonstrate your commitment and passion for medicine.

Medical school MMI interviews can be intense, but with proper preparation and practice, you can excel in this unique format and give yourself the best shot possible of getting an offer for medical school.

About the author
After studying medicine at the University of Leicester, Dr Ollie now works as a junior doctor in London. His interests include medical education and expedition medicine, as well as having a strong belief in the importance of widening access to medicine.