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MMI vs Panel Interview For Medical School

MMI vs Panel Interview For Medical School

Updated on: December 3, 2023
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Written By Dr Ollie

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

MMI vs panel interview: the two main methods that medical schools use to interview candidates are going head to head.

  • Panel interview (a.k.a. traditional)
  • MMI (a.k.a. multiple mini interviews)

We’re going to cover what these mean, which medical schools use which,  and how you can use each to your advantage.

By the end of this article, you’ll know which medical school uses an interview method that gives you the best chance of getting an offer.

What Is A Panel Interview?

Everyone has an image of what a classic panel interview looks like.

It’s you sitting across the table from three scary looking people doing your best to answer their probing questions.

Of course in reality it’s not always quite as bad as that!

For a panel interview you’ll generally be talking to three to four interviewers.

This number does however vary considerably between medical schools- you may be interviewed by just one member of the university if on a video call, all the way up to six different professionals face-to-face!

The people sat on your interview panel normally hold a range of different roles within the medical school.

So you may find yourself talking to a lecturer, a clinically practicing doctor, an admissions tutor and even a current student!

It may just be one person asking you questions but normally it’s the whole panel that will be grading you as an applicant.

That’s why you’ll need to direct your responses to every person sat opposite you and not just focus all your attention on one.

You’ll normally be asked some ice-breaker questions at the start of the interview before it progresses to some more detailed and challenging questioning.

Ice-breaker questions are questions such as “how was your journey?” “Where do you come from?” “What first got you interested in medicine?”

Three out of four of my medical school interviews were panel interviews.

Following being pretty nervous before each one I think my overriding impression after them was that the interviewers were all a lot nicer than I thought they were going to be!

What Is An MMI Interview?

An MMI, or multiple mini interview, is essentially what it says on the tin.

Instead of one formal panel interview, you go through a series of mini-interviews.

Students taking part in a mock MMI circuit

These generally last five to ten minutes and each one covers a unique topic.

There are lot’s of different stations (usually six to ten) and each one has its own interviewer and set of questions or tasks.

Multiple mini interviews are becoming more and more popular with medical schools so you may find they make up the majority of your interviews.

The only MMI I did was for Leicester- but luckily it went well as that’s where I ended up studying!

MMI Interview Stations

Each medical school decides on the precise make-up of its MMI but there are stations that are commonly used by lots of universities.

These include:

  • Role Play- you interact with an actor in a fictitious scenario
  • Data & Calculation- you have to use numerical skills to answer questions and/or interpret data
  • Panel Interview- essentially just a normal panel interview as a station
  • Giving Instructions- you have to clearly explain a task to someone who doesn’t know how to do it
  • Professional Judgement- you’re faced with a sensitive situation that requires careful judgement
  • Hot Topics- you’re questioned on recent events in the news related to healthcare
  • Prioritisation- you’re given an exercise to test your prioritisation skills
  • Ethics- you’re asked questions relating to medical ethics and your interpretation of them

In your MMI it’s unlikely all these different topics will come up and some may even come up within the same station as each other.

However, it’s a good idea to have practice in how you might tackle each one as they do all represent themes that come up time and time again.

MMIs are thought to be a more objective method of interviewing applicants compared to the traditional panel interview.

It’s easy to understand why- in an MMI you could have up to ten examiners giving their opinion on a candidate as opposed to potentially just one grumpy lecturer who wants to finish the interview so they can get lunch!

The Key Differences Between MMI & Panel Interviews

The MMI and panel are two very distinct interview styles. I’ve summed up some of the key differences below:

Panel InterviewMMI
Usually 3-4 interviewersOne interviewer per station
Longer in-depth questioningMany task-orientated stations
Generally half an hour – an hourShort (5-10 minute) stations
Can build on previous answersEach station is a ‘reset’
Will all read personal statementOne personal statement station

Each difference can have its own advantages and disadvantages.

For example, in a traditional interview, you have a prolonged amount of time with the panel. This means you can build a relationship with them and really start showcasing your personality.

But, if you were to get off on the wrong foot, their first impression would hang over you for the whole interview.

In an MMI, you don’t really have the time to build that relationship and expand on previous things you’ve mentioned.

However, if you mess up with an interviewer the next station is a complete reset.

It’s a new task with a new examiner so all you have to do is take a deep breath and go again.

Which Medical Schools Use Which Interview Method?

MMI as a method of interviewing medical school applicants is becoming more and more popular.

This year however, due to COVID-19, a lot of medical schools decided to switch to a traditional interview held over a video call.

These medical schools may change their minds again for 2022.

Medical SchoolInterview Method
Anglia RuskinMMI
Brighton & SussexMMI
Cambridge Panel
Cardiff MMI
Dundee Panel
Edge Hill MMI
Edinburgh MMI
Exeter MMI
Hull York MMI
Imperial MMI
Keele Panel
Kent & Medway MMI
King’s College Panel
Lancaster Panel
Leeds MMI
Leicester MMI
Liverpool MMI
Manchester MMI
Newcastle Panel
Nottingham Panel
Oxford Panel
Plymouth MMI
Queen’s Belftast MMI
Sheffield Panel
Southampton Panel
St Andrews MMI
St George’s MMI
Sunderland MMI
Swansea Panel
Lancashire MMI
University College Panel
Warwick MMI

The latest information is normally available on each of the medical school’s websites. You can also always email their admissions team for a definitive answer.

Is An MMI Or Panel Interview Best For You?

You now know the differences between an MMI vs panel interview.

But which interview method will give you the best chance of getting that offer?

It all comes down to your personality type, strengths and weaknesses, and in reality, personal preference.

I’m going to use each of the key differences from the table above to explore this question in greater detail…

3-4 Interviewers vs 1 Interviewer per Station

Interviews are a daunting prospect at the best of times.

Anything that will make you less nervous will likely improve your performance.

Would you be comfortable holding the attention of three to four different interviewers at once?

If so, a panel interview may not phase you at all.

Or perhaps you’d prefer to channel all your attention to one interviewer and really be able to convince them why you deserve that offer!

In which case, an MMI may be the way to go…

In-Depth Questioning vs Task Orientated Stations

One major difference between a panel interview and an MMI is what you’ll be asked to do.

In an MMI many of the stations are task-orientated.

You’ll be asked to complete objectives as opposed to just responding to questions.

Would you want to get stuck in to a challenge on interview day? Or can you not think of anything worse than having to perform tasks under pressure…

I’m quite a hands-on kind of person so didn’t mind this idea but the thought of doing a role-playing station was a different matter…

I did not like the idea of relying on my acting skills to get me a place at medical school!

A medicine applicant role-playing with an actor

A lot of the same topics are generally covered in both interview types.

However, you should certainly come prepared to explore them in greater detail in a panel interview.

That’s simply because they have longer with you and a less rigid interview format- so the interviewers can go deeper on a topic if they feel it’s warranted.

Longer Panel Interviews vs Short Stations

Are you the kind of person who feels like they only start expressing themselves given enough time and room?

Or are you short, sharp, to the point kind of guy or gal?

For some people the interrupt of changing station every five minutes can be really jarring to their sense of concentration.

For others, it’s a welcome switch to keep themselves fresh and focused.

Have a think as to which camp you might fall into.

It would be devastating to burn out halfway through an MMI circuit or indeed begin dozing in the middle of your panel interview. . !

I didn’t think I had much of a preference when choosing between the two interview methods.

However, after having done a full-length mock of each I found the short MMI stations suited my thinking style far more than the panel interview.

Building On Previous Answers vs Station Resets

As we discussed in the first section, the panel interview lets you build more of a relationship with your interviewers.

The MMI on the otherhand gives you the opportunity for a complete reset at the end of each station.

I think this can be a really difficult one to judge as to which will play to your advantage best.

It can be easy to instinctively want the safety net of a ‘reset’ with each station.

Yet you have to bear in mind as the panel interviewers get to know they’ll potentially become more forgiving– playing down a slightly weaker answer you might give towards the end of an excellent interview.

If you mess up on an MMI station however, the interviewer won’t have seen how you performed on previous stations so will be forced to grade you poorly.

All Interviewers Will Read Your Personal Statement vs One Personal Statement Station

In general, everyone on the panel at your traditional interview will have read your personal statement.

At the very least, they’ll have it in front of them.

Are you incredibly proud of your personal statement and feel like it gives an interviewer a great grounding in you as an applicant before you even have to answer a single question?

Or alternatively, would you prefer to discuss it on just one MMI station with a single interviewer who’s read it?

Don’t be modest.

If you think you’ve got a really great personal statement you’ve got to stack all the odds you can in your favour to have the best chance of getting that offer.

An excellent personal statement can give the interviewer a positive first impression before even having met you!

Final Thoughts

You should now have an answer to the MMI vs panel interview showdown. Both panel interviews and MMIs are trying to establish the same thing- whether you’re a suitable candidate to study medicine at a university’s medical school.

It’s just two very different methods of trying to achieve the same objective.

I personally ended up doing both interview methods as the medical schools I’d applied to used a mixture of them.

However, if you feel you’re inherently more suited to one than the other then you may want to only apply to medical schools that use that particular method.

Or indeed, you may want to apply to a mixture as a way of hedging your bets if you’re not sure which one will suit you when the pressure is on!

Either way, I’m confident with the right preparation and mindset you’ll interview fantastically.

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.