By Glenn N. Cummings, Ph.D., Director of Health Professions Advising
I can’t say I’ve ever participated in a “speed-dating” exercise. I intentionally call it an “exercise” instead of a “game,” since to me it sounds painful, an activity akin to Karaoke Night or watching reality TV. The idea of people lining up in a gym to present themselves to strangers in five-minute sound bites seems a little forced, even superficial, and to anyone out there who takes a while to warm up to people and make their best impression, it sounds like a recipe for dejection. For extroverts, speed dating is probably fun. For introverts, it is probably not fun.
For applicants to health professional school, the Multiple Mini-Interview, or MMI, has been called “speed dating,” perhaps rightly so. Most health professional schools still conduct traditional interviews during the application process, pairing candidates with a couple of faculty members for in-depth conversations. However, a gradually growing number of schools have started doing MMIs instead. At last count, Stanford, Robert Wood Johnson, Oregon, Duke, UCLA, UC-Davis, Virginia Tech, Arizona, and Cincinnati med schools were, as well as two dental schools and thirteen Canadian schools. More are deciding to move in the direction of MMIs as part, if not all, of their interviewing process.
What is the MMI experience like? Compared to traditional interviews, candidates come to their interviews on fewer days during the season, with more applicants attending each day. Typically, they line up along a hallway, read a question or scenario that they are about to discuss, then enter a room to speak with someone from the school for 7-10 minutes on the topic indicated. Often candidates are asked to address an ethical dilemma or issue affecting the profession. When time is up, they move to the next room, and continue having brief conversations with Admissions personnel for anywhere from five to ten “stations.” They are then scored by their interviewers. Fans of this process say that it is fairer—more evaluators make any one impression less significant in the decision-making process and create more of a consensus. Skeptics wonder if candidates get to talk about their own lives and if they leave the interview day with a clear sense of whether or not that school would be a good fit for them.
For anyone interested in learning more about MMIs, I can recommend an article from Stanford. You might also check out Robert Wood Johnson’s info. The journal Academic Medicine has published some good articles studying MMIs as well. A simple Google search will pull up a good bit more on MMIs but please read online chatter with a critical eye.
The MMI is a reality you should prepare for as a pre-health student. As for speed dating, my advice would be . . . Wait, I don’t give dating advice. This isn’t that kind of blog, sorry.