Medical School Interviews: Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs) And Semi-Structured Interviews

Last updated: 13/11/2020

The vast majority of medical schools (both direct and graduate entry) in Australia and New Zealand use some form of interview assessment to select their students. While they may already know the applicants’ credentials through the application form, they use interviews as a means to identify and evaluate personal qualities that would be essential for being a successful medical doctor. These qualities include communication skills, critical thinking, decision making, empathy, ethics, maturity, motivation, problem solving, responsibility, self-knowledge, sensitivity and teamwork.

A stopwatch

Medical School Interviews: Multiple Mini Interviews (MMIs)

Multiple mini interviews (MMIs) are used by the majority of medical schools in Australia and New Zealand to assess its applicants. Each station is usually focused on assessing one or more soft-skills, allowing each university to evaluate you from different aspects. Typically, a MMI consists of 6-10 independent stations that last 5-10 minutes each (including reading time), as outlined below:

University

Time per station

Number of stations

Australian National University (also has one hour group task)

6 minutes

6

Bond University

7 minutes

8

Charles Sturt University

8 minutes

10

Curtin University

8 minutes

8

Deakin University

5 minutes

10

Griffith

5 minutes

8

Macquarie University

N/A

N/A

Monash University

10 minutes

8

University of Melbourne

5 minutes

8

University of Newcastle and University of England

8 minutes

8

University of Notre Dame (Fremantle and Sydney)

8 minutes

7

University of Queensland

N/A

N/A

University of Sydney

7 minutes

5

University Western Australia

10 minutes

8

University of Wollongong

8 minutes

10

Western Sydney University

8 minutes

10

University of Auckland

8 minutes

8

During this time, you will exchange a series of conversations with the interviewers about a given scenario or topic, be involved in a role play, give a short presentation or explanation, or carry out certain tasks (e.g. calculations). Popular topics include conflict resolution, decision making and prioritisation, ethical issues, knowledge on health, medicine and science, and motivation to study medicine.

A checklist

At the end, an aggregate score of all stations is used to rank each applicant. While this means that your performance in every station counts, it also means that if you don’t do as well as you would’ve liked to in a station, you can easily make up for it with a stellar performance in another. This approach minimises any potential bias from the interviewers.

Not all MMIs are not the same in terms of the type of questions asked, duration and number of stations, marking criteria and reading time. However, with sufficient preparation to work on your soft-skills and practice with various MMI scenarios, you can improve your performance with any MMIs. Indeed, there is even scientific evidence to suggest that practice and experience can improve MMI scores.

An applicant smiling during a medical school interview

Medical School Interviews: Semi-structured Interviews

Most universities that do not use a MMI for their interview process use traditional semi-structured panel interviews. Instead of having multiple rotating stations and strict time schedule to follow, these types of interviews involve the interviewers asking a list of questions and then asking follow-up questions that do not necessarily adhere to a pre-written script. 

These interviews are typically centred around questions around your achievements/background/experiences, demonstration of leadership and teamwork, learning style, motivation to study medicine, and personal management. They may involve discussion of the healthcare system, and an assessment of your analytic skills, decision making, empathy, ethical reasoning, problem solving skills, and professionalism.

It should be noted that some universities may use online/phone panel interviews instead of MMI for international applicants.

An onlineinterview

The following universities use semi-structured interviews:

  • Flinders University (50 minutes)
  • James Cook University (1 hour)
  • University of New South Wales (40 minutes)

University of Adelaide is unique in that its interview is a mix of semi-structured interview and MMI and consists of two 15-minute sessions (or one 20-minute session for international applicants).

University of Sydney (provisional entry) is also unique in having a more relaxed and unstructured interview that is taken together with several other students. Note that this only applies to the double degree programme and graduate entry programme uses MMI to assess its candidates.

While we acknowledge that there are not always right or wrong answers during an interview, we strongly believe that improving general interview skills such as thinking quickly on the feet and communicating ideas clearly, being well prepared for likely interview topics and having a sound awareness of each interview system will help maximise your chances for success.

Are you interested in attending a medical school in the UK instead of Australia or New Zealand? Check out Medify’s UK Medical School Admissions Guide.

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