By: Jason Lee
UCSD School of Medicine
Here we continue to discuss other important considerations during the interview:
Interviewers a.k.a. raters are not trying to grill you or make you screw up. They are only intimidating because they have a neutral expression or ask follow-up questions. They are not actively hostile.
At most institutions, raters will not ask about anything specific in your applications, because they do not have access to your file. Generally they are faculty or clinicians in and around the medical school who have volunteered to interview students.
Usually, raters will not quiz you on medical or policy questions without giving you adequate background information. For example, they probably will not ask “what do you think about repealing the Affordable Care Act?” However, a fair game question is “What is a major healthcare challenge and how will you address it?”
There will be warnings for time left and when time is up. If you run out of time, do not panic. Running over time will not hurt you, especially if you are answering a follow-up question. Finish your sentence or thought and thank them. The rater will probably respond or smile/nod, which is your cue to leave.
On the other hand, do not panic because you have finished early. If you are finished, give the interviewer a moment to digest what you have said, and ask if you can answer any questions or clarify any points.
Have a short memory of past stations. If you feel that you performed poorly on a particular station, try not to let it rattle you for the remainder of the day. Recall that the format is called Multiple Mini Interviews because the admissions committee will be assessing your performance over many stations. In fact, some committees will disregard a poor station performance, especially if it was your first station. In addition, a particularly difficult prompt, asked in a standardized way throughout the course of the entire cycle (if not over many years) will probably have given a lot of applicants trouble.
The criteria used to grade your performance is surprisingly forgiving. You will find out in medical school that a significant portion of your education involves formal training on the the very same “issue bank” situations that you prepared for as an applicant. This includes role play scenarios in which you have interact with a professional actor. Admissions committees do not expect you to blow them out of the water with the perfectly crafted response when the medical school curriculum go over these topics heavily. However, they expect a complete answer in which you have considered all of the overarching ethical problems, the perspectives of each of the characters, the possible solutions, and full justification of your final course of action.
Keys to success:
Practice. Sample MMI prompts can be found online. Health Grad Advantage provides comprehensive interview preparation. Do a couple in-person sessions with a friend while wearing formal clothes to practice the entry and introduction, both of which will set the tone for a successful MMI station.
Do not overprepare with memorized answers to multiple prompts you have found online. You may seem robotic, while slight deviation on interview day from the prompt that you have excessively rehearsed for may throw you off your game. Part of what the MMI format is looking for is how quickly an applicant can think in the first 2 minutes of preparation and while you are talking. Instead, make your own formula of: summary +issue bank + solutions toolkit + plans of actions + defense. Refine your mannerisms to eliminate filler words and fidgeting, while improving posture and eye contact.
Show your personality. For example, if you smile and laugh a lot, that’s how you should respond to the questions, as if a close mentor or acquaintance had asked you for your advice.