The Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine of the University of Hong Kong (HKU) revised its admission selection process this year from the traditional 10-people group discussion to a four-stage Multiple Mini Interviews (MMI). The four stages were designed to access candidates’ ethical decision-making, critical thinking, knowledge of the healthcare system and their communication skills.

HKU’s Faculty of Medicine revealed some of the interview questions this year

Under the MMI format, candidates no longer need to stay in the 10-people for a one-hour long discussion. Instead, they need to go through a series of timed interview stations all by themselves. For each of the stations, candidates were given two minutes to prepare for the question outside the interview room, and six minutes to answer the interviewer.

Candidates were given two minutes to prepare for the question outside the interview room and six minutes to answer the interviewer. Photo credit: HKU Faculty of Medicine
Candidates were given two minutes to prepare for the question outside the interview room and six minutes to answer the interviewer. Photo credit: HKU Faculty of Medicine

Professor Chak-Sing Lau, Associate Dean of the Faculty, revealed some of the interview questions this year:

Ethical decision-making:

1. You have a close friend who also wants to get into medical schools as you do. While he’s experienced successive failures at numerous medical schools, you succeed at your first attempt. How would you comfort your friend?
2. A postgraduate coming from another country cannot afford the rent in Hong Kong, and you find out he/she has been staying in the laboratory overnight for days. What would you do?
3. You accidentally scratched another car in a parking lot when you were in a rush for an interview. How would you feel? What would you do?
4. There are three patients awaiting organ donations: A senior government official, a normal citizen, and your relatives. Which patient will you save?

Knowledge of the healthcare system:

1. What is your view on minimum wage?
2. Should the Hong Kong government open the door to foreign doctors?

Introduced by the Canada’s McMaster University in 2004, MMI is said to be a better indicator of an individual’s performance in medical schools. Comparing to traditional interview formats, MMI allows institutions to gain better insights into candidates’ personalities by observing his/her reactions in various scenarios. Because of this, MMI is widely adopted by medical schools around the globe in recent years.

Oftentimes, there is no ‘right answer’ during an interview. “Go with your gut instinct and feeling. Don't try and predict what we want you to say – because you don't have much time,” said Pat Harkin, Deputy Director of Admissions at Leeds University. “There are no trick questions, because that would be pointless for us,” he added.

Other sample questions:

1. A close friend in your first year of medical school confides in you that his mother was just diagnosed with breast cancer. He feels overwhelmed by his studies, and he is considering dropping out of medical school to spend more time with his mother. How would you counsel your friend?
2. You are a headmaster of a school with a limited amount of funds to sponsor a student. Chong is a student whose parents have both passed away and Lee is a student who excels in his academic studies. Who would you give the funds to and why?

Preparing for a Multiple-Mini medical school interview

Given the wide array of interview questions during an MMI, it is important for a candidate to come prepared. Before an interview, candidates should research the university’s website to get a better idea on the type of students that they are looking for. A good grasp of important ethical concepts such as patient confidentiality will go a long way.

However, studying anything and everything may not be the only key to clinching that spot in medical school. "It's a practical assessment," said the Director of Student Services at St George’s University, Sara Doherty. "Candidates have to show us what they're capable of doing, rather than telling us. Strong communication skills and good listening skills are vital in an MMI. Practising questions with people is another way to boost confidence,” she elaborated.

Unlike conventional interview formats, a candidate is accessed by many different examiners at different interview stations during an MMI, which avoids interview biases such as the ‘halo effect’ (where the interviewer’s initial impression towards a candidate tends to stay unchanged throughout the course of an interview). Therefore, candidates should stay relaxed during an interview and they should not let a presumed ‘poor performance’ in one station spill over into the next. MIMS

Read more:
Hong Kong Ten Outstanding Young Persons award recipient Dr Emily Hung on the ups and downs of a journey from medical student to successful Medical Director
University of Hong Kong – Shenzhen Hospital (HKU-SZH) set to introduce organ transplant service by the end of 2017
HKU invents new laser technology that enables cancer to be diagnosed earlier