And breathe. In through the nose and out through the mouth. That’s what I told myself as I stepped into the Stopford Building for the first time.
My name is Danish Hafeez, I’m a 4th Year medical student at the University of Manchester. I’m from London originally and the first time I’d ever been to Manchester was for my interview. It was my first medical school interview, so my parents insisted on coming with me and making a trip out of it. So, in early frosty January we made our way along the M6 for the 4 hour drive to Manchester. In the end, I got to have dinner in the town centre and lunch on the curry mile before my interview, which gave me an insight into the places I’d be frequenting once I was a student there!
What can I expect from MMIs?
Like everyone else, I was very nervous about my interview, it being my first official interview ever. More than anything I was nervous about the infamous MMI: “Multiple Mini Interviews”. I had read on the online forums, found interview books to help and practiced with teachers, family and friends. Nothing is quite like that moment when my parents dropped me outside the Stopford Building on Oxford Road, where you spend the majority of your first 2 years as a medical student, and I walked through the glass doors for my interview.
It was nothing like I expected; I was greeted by friendly student ambassadors, who were current medical students, who helped me feel at ease and spoke to myself and the other students waiting for their interview. Seeing all the other students helped to put me at ease to know I wasn’t going it alone. At the end of the day, the medicine interview isn’t about proving that you’re ready to be a doctor but rather about showing you have the potential to become one and the drive to work throughout medical school, which will give you the skills and knowledge you need to be one.
After having some time to sit and get to know the other students, we were all led down a short corridor to the communication skills learning centre (CSLC) for our interviews. This is a mock ward area with lots of smaller rooms coming off an atrium, closed only with curtains. The MMI is made up of 8 stations, each one lasting 8 minutes. You are allocated a certain station to start on and slowly move round to each one until you have done all 8. Not to worry though, there is plenty of time between stations to move between each one and the helpful student ambassadors are on hand to help you move between each one.
Outside each station will be a brief instruction of what you must do in that particular station which you have a minute to read before starting. My biggest piece of advice is to just take a few seconds to read the instruction and have an idea of what is expected of you in that station, there are no tricks and the medical school wants to help you to be able to demonstrate your best self. In each station, there is usually an examiner and occasionally an actor if there’s role play. Not to worry if the examiner seems serious or doesn’t seem very chatty, they’re just doing their best to stay fair and assess you.
The stations themselves varied greatly in their content. They included roleplaying a scenario, discussing my personal statement, prioritisation, talking about GMC (General Medical Council) principles and instructing other medical students to complete a task! You might finish a station early which is completely fine and doesn’t mean anything has changed. Although 8 stations in 8 minutes feels like a long time, you get so absorbed in the station that the time flies by. Before I knew it, I was thanking everyone and led by the ambassadors back to the front of the building to be greeted by my parents and the long drive down to London.
Top Tips for MMIs
I think the most intimidating part of MMIs is how foreign they are before you apply to medical school. Once at medical school, you’ll have clinical exams that follow the same format (known as OSCEs). Therefore, the best thing you can do is to practice some mock stations whether it be with a friend, family member or teacher. Just practicing doing a few stations in 8 minutes just to feel more comfortable with the format. Other than that, be sure to know your personal statement well and qualities that it demonstrates, ready for any questions that come at you! Compared to traditional interviews, MMIs give you an opportunity to make a good first impression 8 different times. This is great because even if one particular station didn’t go so well, you have 7 other chances to impress the examiners! Try to treat each one as a fresh start and not worry about what you’ve already done. In addition, MMIs are great at giving you opportunities to demonstrate your skills by carrying out various activities e.g. showing empathy when roleplaying, rather than just talking about them as in more traditional panel interviews.
The MMI is a great chance to get a feel at a university you might be at for the next 5 years! If you can try to take some time to walk around the university, chat to the current students about anything you have questions/concerns about and just try to do your best. You’ve already done all the hard work of putting an application together and preparing for the interview!
Note: This is reflective of my personal experience of the Manchester MMI interview and the exact location/station format can be slightly different each year!
- https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/medicine/apply/interviews/ - A great summary of the interview format at Manchester in general and will have the most up-to-date advice
- https://www.bmh.manchester.ac.uk/study/medicine/apply/non-academic/ - List of some of the skills interviewers are looking for you to demonstrate in your interview
- https://www.medschools.ac.uk/media/2602/how-to-run-a-mock-mmi.pdf - Great overview of MMIs at all universities and stations of each type to try out!
- https://www.themedicportal.com/e-learning/interview/mmi-questions/ - Some mock MMI stations to practice with friends/family/teachers