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The rise of the medical school Multi-Mini Interview

Instead of the traditional hour-long student interviews with a faculty member, Stanford and several other medical schools have adopted a new interview process known as the Multi-Mini Interview (MMI). The process involves a series of short interviews over a two-hour period designed to measure character and critical-thinking skills rather than scientific knowledge. A story published today in the New York Times offers a detailed look at the multiple assessment technique and why some medical schools have implemented the process:

 The most important part of the interviews are often not candidates’ initial responses — there are no right or wrong answers — but how well they respond when someone disagrees with them, something that happens when working in teams.

Candidates who jump to improper conclusions, fail to listen or are overly opinionated fare poorly because such behavior undermines teams. Those who respond appropriately to the emotional tenor of the interviewer or ask for more information do well in the new admissions process because such tendencies are helpful not only with colleagues but also with patients.

“We are trying to weed out the students who look great on paper but haven’t developed the people or communication skills we think are important,” said Dr. Stephen Workman, associate dean for admissions and administration at Virginia Tech Carilion.

Dr. Charles Prober, senior associate dean at the Stanford University School of Medicine, said Stanford always valued social skills in students — particularly the ability to work collaboratively with colleagues and establish trust with patients — but did not have a reliable way of ferreting these skills out until adopting mini interviews.

Previously: New approach to screening prospective medical students

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