MMI Interview Prep: Role-Play Situational Questions

Medical School
August 26, 2019

Role Play in Medical School Multiple Mini Interviews

If you did theater in high school, it is about to pay off. It’s time to release your inner Marlon Brando and perform in your MMI role-play scenario.

For some, the idea of playing a role with another actor can feel awkward, especially if you have never done it before.

But don’t overthink it. This is similar to regular situational questions. Instead of saying what you are going to do, you actually do it.

Two types of role-play questions

1. The full situation with context

You have pulled out of your driveway and backed into your neighbor’s brand new BMW. You walk up to their door to tell him.

Most likely, this is the type of role-play question you will get. You’ll prepare for this in a very similar way to regular situational questions.

2. The situation with little to no context

You are meeting with your friend Jill at her house before you go out for the night.

Although not as common, these scenarios do happen. Instead of preparing what you say beforehand, you need to communicate with the actor to figure out the problem first.

How to practice for role-play stations

Practicing for MMIs is difficult because they are designed to be that way, but that does not mean it’s impossible.

First, you will want to check out our overview of the MMI. This makes sure you know how the MMI works, the types of questions you will be asked, and some general tips on how to prepare.

The best way to practice for MMIs is to run mock interviews on yourself. This prepares you to think on your feet, and that MMI won’t be as intimidating if you have done it before.

You will need another person to practice for these role-play scenarios (ask a friend or professor). Then pick a sample prompt online and practice like you would on the real MMI day.

The more you can simulate your actual MMI interview the better. It’s best not to see/think about the prompt beforehand because you want to see how you perform on your feet.

Use a timer and give yourself two minutes of prep time with the prompt. Then give 6-8 minutes to run through the situation with whoever is helping you as if it was your actual interview day.

Record the session and watch it back to see exactly what you did.

Of course, if you want to skip all the hassle, we have to mention that you can get professional MMI practice interviews here at AcceptMed. That way you can get solid feedback and feel prepared for your MMI.

How to use your prep time (role-play with context)

Like we already said, your prep time use for these questions is going to be very similar to your prep time for regular situational questions.

For a typical MMI interview, you are given 2 minutes outside the room to prepare with your prompt. After that, you are given 6-8 minutes to complete the session.

These are the questions you should be asking yourself to prepare in those 2 minutes.

What is the situation?

Who is involved in the situation and how can I help them to the best of my ability?

What emotion will this person most likely be feeling?

What ethical issues do you have to deal with?

For context, we are going to use the prompt from above and go through each of these questions.

Prompt: You have pulled out of your driveway and backed into your neighbor’s brand new BMW. You walk up to their door to tell him.

What is the situation?

A simple question on the surface, but extremely important. If you do not understand the context of the situation, you may not give accurate information to the actor.

Make sure you read the prompt at least twice. Unlike situational prompts, you may not have the ability to ask the interviewer about the situation beforehand.

So repeat the situation over in your head. Something like this:

Okay, in this situation I was leaving my house and pulling out of my driveway. As I was doing this, I hit my neighbors brand new BMW. I now have to go tell the person what I did.

Who is involved and how can I help them to the best of my ability?

A lot of MMI scenarios are built around your ability to empathize and work with people. This is why it is important to understand everyone’s point of view.

Let’s start out with the first question in this situation. Who is involved?

First, we have the neighbor. We do not know their name, nor do we have any information that we have met them before. So it is best to assume that this is the first time we are meeting.

Second, we have you (the candidate). You have hit the neighbors car.

Next, how can I help them to the best of my ability?

There are always going to be factors out of your control. You can’t reverse time and not hit the car. Here, it is best to place yourself into the shoes of the other person. If your neighbor had hit your car, how would you want them to break the news to you?

You would not want them to be apathetic.

You would want them to be apologetic. You would want to see that they feel remorse. Lastly, it would be nice to say that they could help in any way they can.

What type of emotion will this person most likely be feeling?

Almost every MMI session is going to involve a problem, and the acting session is no different.

You are not working with a professional actor here. Most MMI role-play sessions have the actor portray one basic emotion. With context from the prompt, you should be able to guess the type of emotion they are going to feel.

For this prompt, we can guess it will be anger.

Using the information from the previous question, the best way to calm this anger will be through empathy. Apologizing, showing remorse, and asking if there is anything you can do.

What ethical issues do you have to deal with?

For this prompt, there are not very many ethical issues. This question necessary if you are playing the role of a physician.

That is why it is always good to be knowledgeable of common ethical dilemmas doctors face. Religious exemptions, who is in charge of the care for a patient, and other legal dilemmas are popular in MMIs.

It is best to take note of any ethical issues that you face and let that guide how you act in the role-play scenario.

Using these questions (role-play with context)

You will want to use all the questions you asked yourself to guide the conversation.

For our example prompt, we know that we don’t know this person. So it would be best to start with an introduction and quickly get to the issue at hand.

You: Hello, my name is medical school candidate. I am your neighbor from across the street.

Actor: Oh yea hey, my name is Tyler. Nice to finally meet you, medical school candidate.

You: I am sorry to bother you, but I believe that I hit your car.

You know that “Tyler” is most likely going to be angry. We will do our best to calm him by apologizing, showing remorse, and asking if there is anything we can do to help.

Tyler: You did what!?!?

You: I am so sorry

Tyler: Do you know how much that costs?!

You: I know, I know, but I have insurance. I will give them a call and explain the situation. I will tell them that it is all my fault you don’t have to worry about it.

Tyler: Ugh! I can’t believe that I have to deal with this.

You: I know, I am so sorry. Is there anything else that I can do to help?

At this point, the actor may give you more information to work off of… or they may just stay irrationally angry.

If the person stays angry, suggest some other solutions. But in the end, the person just may be inconsolable. Don’t get caught up on it. In your career as a physician, you are going to work with a lot of people who are inconsolable. They want to see how you act in this situation.

If this is the case, or you successfully console them, you will eventually want to wrap things up.

To do this, go over what you agreed to do with the actor. You can add a detail here and there if you need it.

You: Okay, I am going to call my insurance right now and explain the situation. I am also going to give my phone number if you need it, along with the make and model of my car. If you need anything from me don’t hesitate to give me a call. Again, I am so sorry this happened.

How to use your prep time (role-play no context)

Prompt: You are meeting with your friend Jill at her house before you are about to go out for the night.

This one is a little harder since you have to figure out the situation through the actor.

So while you are in your prep phase, this is what you want to be thinking about.

What do I know about the situation?

What should I ask to get more info?

The prep time is not as valuable in these situations. You are going to have to do a lot more on the fly.

What do I know about the situation?

You still want to think about this. You want to know as much as you can before going into the room.

For the prompt above, we would think:

I know that I am meeting up with Jill. Jill is my friend, so there is no need to introduce myself.

What should I ask to get more info?

Again, there will be a problem of some sort. You just have to think about how to get to the problem.

You don’t want to run into the room asking a bunch of questions. That would feel unnatural.

For the prompt above, we would want to start with an introduction. Then a simple “how’s it going?” may be enough to get some information. But you may need to take it further.

Using these questions (role-play no context)

When you get into the room, you will want to:

Determine the problem

Help with a solution to the best of your ability

Again, most of this will have to be done on your feet.

Determine the problem

For our situation, since we are already friends, we want to just start the conversation normally.

While you are trying to determine what the problem is, watch their body language and listen to what they say. This will help you come up with the right questions and may give you an idea to what they are going through.

You: Hey Jill, how’s it going?

Jill: Fine *head down, no eye contact*

Here you can see that Jill is not fine. You may not be able to tell the emotion she is feeling yet, but she is not very open about it. Here, you want to push a little more.

You: Are you sure?

Jill: I don’t want to ruin our night.

Jill has given us a little leeway here. You still have not determined the problem but she is coming around.

You: You can tell me. I want to know.

Jill: Okay, well… My mom just called and she was… diagnosed with cancer.

Here is the problem. Jill’s mom has been diagnosed with cancer and she is sad about it. Now we start to…

Help with a solution to the best of your ability

So you are not going to be able to cure Jill’s Mom’s cancer. But you can attempt to make Jill feel supported and a little better. You can also see if there is anything else you can do. Offer to drive her to her parent's place. Say that you can stay in that night with her. Whatever you think of.

You: Jill I am so sorry.

Jill: Yea…

You: What can I do to help?

Jill: Not much…

You: Are you sure? We don’t have to go out tonight.

Jill: Are you sure? I didn’t want to ruin your night.

You: It’s no big deal at all.

This is just one possibility of the conversation that could take place. But you can see the basics.

“You” are supporting Jill, seeing what you can do to help, and showing that you are there for her.

To end this, you want to recap just like you would in the situation with context. Recap what you talked about and what you are going to do.

You: Okay Jill, we are going to stay in tonight and just hang. I just want to let you know that I am always here to help and if there is anything that you need, just let me know. You guys will get through this.

One last note

MMIs, as we have said before, are very hard to predict. We try to give you a good baseline to start with in these articles, but there is no way we could give you an answer to every situation they could possibly ask.

So if you feel that when you are responding to your MMI that you are missing something that is not included in this guideline, include it!

Give it some practice and thought, and you will be well on your way to nailing that MMI interview.

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