by Lauren DiProspero, former admissions officer at Columbia University
Congratulations! You have been invited to interview at a medical school. Making it to this point is a big deal. No applicant is admitted to medical school without an interview and most applicants do not receive an invitation to interview.
Each medical school decides their interview structure. This means that your interviews will not necessarily be consistent across the medical schools at which you interview. The medical school will inform you of what to expect in advance of your interview day. This year many medical schools are making the switch to virtual interviewing.
There are four types of interviews that you may experience: Multiple Mini Interview (MMI), group, panel, and a traditional on-on-one.
Multiple Mini Interview (MMI)
The MMI is an interview format used by some Canadian and American medical schools. It entails a series of short interviews designed to measure competencies like oral communication, social and non-verbal skills, and teamwork. It is also designed to understand your cultural sensitivity, maturity, empathy, and reliability. Schools that use the MMI believe, based on research, that it can reduce interviewer bias and will allow applicants to showcase their skills throughout the interview. They also point to studies that have shown how an applicant’s score on the MMI is predictive of performance later in medical school. By design, it is a hard interview to prepare for since it does not test specific knowledge and is an unusual format. The best way to prepare is to practice expressing yourself in a timed environment.
Group interviews will often have three or more applicants in a group with one or more admission committee members conducting the interview. The purpose of a group interview is to see how the applicants conduct themselves with peers and to test their ability to handle a higher level of stress. Group interviews will often ask only a few questions overall, but applicants may build on another applicant’s response or lead a discussion.
Panel interviews can include a few admission committee members from the medical school and may also include a third- or fourth-year student. Panel interviews give applicants individual attention from the panel and an opportunity to demonstrate their readiness to handle an atmosphere that is more demanding than the typical one-on-one interview.
The one-on-one interview is what it sounds like: You will be interviewed by one person at a time. You may just have one interview or a series of interviews throughout the day. This can feel less stressful than the other types of interviews.
No matter which interview format you experience, do not forget to send a thank you note! For the MMI, you can simply send your thank you note to the Dean of Admissions and it will make its way into your admissions file.