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The multiple-mini interview: what it is and an idea of what to expect

Dr Robert McAndrew

BDS, MScD, PhD, FDS, FDS (Rest Dent) RCS, DRD, MRDRCS,PGCE, FGHEA

Admissions Tutor for Dentistry

Dental schools seek to recruit and admit excellent students who go on to be excellent, ethical and caring dentists. The multiple-mini interview (MMI) was developed and introduced as a selection tool for students by researchers at McMaster University in Canada1 and was introduced in an attempt to prevent the biases, expectations and influences that were known to be associated with more traditional interviews.2 Since its introduction, the MMI process has been adopted as part of the admissions procedures of many healthcare profession schools throughout the world and recently by UK dental schools with Cardiff being the first.3 The MMI process has been thoroughly researched and shown to have good validity and reliability.

MMI stations are designed to assess qualities that are felt important in relation to the successful progression in dentistry and indeed to hopefully produce successful dentists. In general, MMI stations evaluate areas different to that achieved from examination grades and test scores e.g. practical ability, empathy, reasoning, problem solving, however they can be used to question areas common with more traditional interviews. The MMI is generally accepted as a fairer way of assessing applicants 2"preventing weaker candidates from gaining entry based on a single superior interview" and allowing a good candidate opportunity to overcome the pitfalls associated with a poor single interview.4

The MMI in Cardiff are run as four sequentially run sessions over five consecutive days with breaks and refreshments being timetabled into the schedule and care being taken to ensure that different candidates participating in different sessions do not meet. Although it is possible that having prior knowledge of a particular station could result in an unfair advantage to some applicants collusion and discussion of the stations is discouraged until after the whole process is completed despite the fact that some research does not seem to support this. 5 In Cardiff the MMI consists of 12 timed stations which applicants rotate through and no station has a weighting greater than any other. Each station lasts up to 5 minutes and there is 2 minutes between stations; 2 of the 12 stations are rest stations which do not contribute to the overall mark but are interesting none-the-less. Before entering stations (during the 2 minute break) applicants are presented with the requisite question, scenario or task. Areas that can form integral parts of the MMI are dentistry as a career, logic, reasoning, ethics and plagiarism, manual dexterity, breaking bad news, research and data interpretation. Stations are generally manned by one or two interviewers with all stations scoring an applicants ability to cope with the station and / or communication skills. In addition, all interviewers make an independent assessment on an applicant's perceived suitability to a career in dentistry. Interviewers are recruited by invitation from the Dental School's clinical and non clinical academic staff, hospital staff and student body and all receive appropriate training in the use and application of the MMI process. When collated, the grades provided are used to rank candidates and inform the process of acceptance or rejection. The outcome of the MMI is usually conveyed to the applicants within 7 working days of the last MMI.

As already mentioned MMI offer applicants the chance to demonstrate skills and qualities that are not always evident on a written application and while distinctly different from the traditional interviews, preparing for a MMI does not normally require knowledge of the questions being asked. Participants should however pay attention to what a particular station is focusing on.

Overall the response of applicants to the MMI is positive and this is consistent with of the responses received and documented by those who have previously been on the receipt of a MMI in Cardiff Dental School. 3 Although it is recognised that some candidates have concerns and Cardiff continues to strive to develop and engage in research of MMIs in order to improve the overall experiences of all involved.

The multiple mini-interviews are usually scheduled to be held in February and applicants are offered a time for attendance which is conveyed to them by the Dental School Admissions team; there is a very slight degree of flexibility in the system to re-schedule an applicant's MMI this is determined individually and will require very good reasons for such to take place and if an applicant refuses to take up an offer of interview then they will not be admitted to the course. The decision as to who receives an offer to attend interview comes from the scoring of information provided on an applicant's UCAS application. Further details can be found on the schools website at

(http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/dentl/degreeprogrammes/undergraduate/dentalsurgery/applications/index.html) Please note that all enquiries regarding the MMI and indeed admissions in general should be directed to the school admissions office and not directly to Dr McAndrew.

References

1. Eva KW, Reiter HI, Rosenfeld J, Norman GR. An admissions OSCE: the multiple mini-interview. Medical Education 2004;38: 314-326.

2. Mann WC. Interviewer scoring differences in student selection interviews. Am J Occup Ther. 1979; 33:235-239

3. McAndrew R, Ellis J. An evaluation of the multiple mini-interview as a selection tool for dental students. British Dental Journal 2012; 212: 331-335.

4. Eva KW, Reiter HI, Rosenfeld J, Norman GR. The ability of the multiple mini-interview to predict clerkship performance in medical school. Academic Medicine. 2004;79: S40-42.

5. Reiter HI, Salvatori P, Rosenfeld J, Trinh K, Eva KW. The Impact of Measured Violations of Test Security on Multiple-Mini Interview (MMI). Medical Education, 2006; 40:36-42.