As the popularity of incorporating the multiple mini interview (MMI) format into PA school interviews grows, so do MMI group scenarios.
As with any PA school interview, knowing what to expect will help to build confidence in your ability to tackle any style of question. So, let's first cover what you're likely to encounter in a group MMI scenario.
Common MMI group scenarios
1. Role playing
You and other candidates are assigned roles. You are given a scenario that includes a problem and asked to work through it by interacting with each other and/or faculty members or current students.
2. Physical teamwork task
You are asked to work with other interviewees to build something. It may involve you looking at a drawing and giving direction to your future classmate or a current PA student (who cannot see the example) of what to draw. You might work to build a Lego bridge between tables or arrange a series of books into the most logical order.
3. Faux project task
You and your group mates are asked to plan a theoretical project and discuss how you would implement it. The project might be something like a 5K, blood drive, or health fair.
Those are all manageable, right? Maybe a little awkward, but nothing scary.
The Keys to Group MMI Interaction
In an MMI group, unlike a regular group interview, your answers are often intertwined with other candidates. To contribute something worthwhile, you must listen to and acknowledge the input and ideas of others.
Focus on the process
You are contributing to rather than being the sole source of a solution. Similar to an individual MMI scenario, following a process (like the 6-step MMI answer framework) is essential in creating the best answer.
But, in a group MMI, the process is often more important than the solution. Time is limited but you want to avoid rushing to a solution. PA programs are looking at how you approach the MMI scenario and how you work with others.
If you feel your group is stuck or like you are barreling towards a solution too quickly, don't be afraid to ask for a pause. When working an individual MMI scenario, it's equally as important to present sub-standard solutions as it is to present the best solution.
In a group, this step can easily be overlooked. Many times, group members only want to present their best ideas and find an ideal solution. However, showing that you see other options, even if they are not ideal, can demonstrate your decision making skills.
Don't be afraid to pause and ask if anyone has any other ideas or input on the direction of the group. We do this in medicine all of the time. We want the opinions of other smart people to arrive at the best solution for our patients. Here's a prime opportunity to show PA programs that you have this skill.
Show you are listening
Listening is important, but to perform well in a group MMI scenario, you have to show you are listening. When your future classmates contribute ideas, respond to their suggestions. "That's interesting," "I hadn't considered that," "Can you explain how...?"
Try not to only concentrate on what you'll do or say next. Demonstrating your ability to process information offered by others is important and will gain you some bonus points.
It may sound trite, but if a program presents you with a strange scenario or group activity, they expect that you'll find humor in it. In fact, they may have picked it so they could have a laugh. One of the main aims of using any MMI format is to assess your interpersonal skills.
Your ability to have fun with future classmates (or surrogate patients) lets a program see if your personality is a good fit for their school. (And, if you're the only one laughing, it might help you know that the program's not the right fit for you.)
Group MMI scenarios can be a little strange, but at the very least they make for some great stories. And, they can help you demonstrate some skills that don't always show through other interview styles.
Investigating the PA program beforehand and understanding the interview style can help you to know if you should prepare for a group MMI scenario.