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The Modified Personal Interview Explained

Your Complete Resource for the MPI in Toronto

The modified personal interview, or MPI, is a new and improved type of medical school admission interview. It was developed by the University of Toronto back in the 2013- 2014 admissions cycle. Essentially, the MPI is a new take on the traditional personal interview (PI) that aims to resolve the problems of poor reliability and validity, while also incorporating aspects of McMaster University’s successful Multiple Mini Interview (MMI). In short, the modified personal interview is designed so that the candidate interacts with four distinct interviewers to allow Multiple Independent Sampling (MIS), therefore reducing bias and inaccuracy.  

Modified Personal Interview for Medical School

The main objective of the MPI is to determine whether an applicant possesses the traits required to succeed in the field of medicine. Personal and professional questions are asked, and applicants are expected to present themselves as a physician would.

The personal interview PI:

The personal interview (PI) is a traditional interview used in the past consisting of one applicant and interviewer. Applicants were asked to engage in lengthy discussions with the interviewer, as opposed to the shorter questions of other interview types.

The personal interview was by some schools considered a fallible means of evaluating a candidate for this reason:  it does not eliminate the personal biases of the interviewer. A candidate’s suitability for the medical profession might be overlooked simply because of a bad impression or poor personal chemistry with the one interviewer.

What Is the Structure of U of T’s MPI – and what should you expect?

The personal interview (PI) is a traditional interview used in the past consisting of one applicant and interviewer. Applicants were asked to engage in lengthy discussions with the interviewer, as opposed to the shorter questions of other interview types.

The personal interview was by some schools considered a fallible means of evaluating a candidate for this reason:  it does not eliminate the personal biases of the interviewer. A candidate’s suitability for the medical profession might be overlooked simply because of a bad impression or poor personal chemistry with the one interviewer.

What Is the Structure of U of T’s MPI – and what should you expect?

The University of Toronto’s MPI improves upon the traditional PI format by having four stations where applicants will have interviews of a more moderate length. .

Essentially, the MPI consists of a traditional personal interview divided into these four sections with four different interviewers. Interviewers may include physicians, faculty members, healthcare professionals, or upper-year medical students.

Each interviewer has formal prompts to follow, but the format allows natural deviations into a conversation—much like in a traditional interview. Applicants will be asked prompted questions but those questions will be posed in such a way that the applicant can respond in a natural and conversational manner.

Each station in the MPI is between ten and twelve minutes in length; this time encompasses the interview prompt and all following discussion. If time allows, applicants can ask the interviewers thoughtful questions, which often serves to make a better impression.

Before the MPI interview:

Prior to the MPI interview, each interviewer reviews the applicant’s file, including their autobiographical sketch and academic records. The interviewers are then prepared to ask specific questions, based on the background and records, to best determine each applicant’s behavioral characteristics as a student and future practitioner.

After the MPI interview:

After the interview, each of the four interviewers rate the applicant on four categories: communication skills, maturity, interpersonal skills, and a final category that’s unique to each applicant. Each applicant will be graded on a five-point scale. That means the four interviewers can each give a maximum MPI score of 20 points.

MPI Interview Questions and Categories

The format and questions asked on the MPI interview are very similar to a traditional panel interview, just with a rotation component.

The MPI interview questions are designed to evaluate each applicant in four categories:

  1. Professionalism. The applicant’s maturity, reliability, perseverance, and responsibility.
  2. Communication Skills. The applicant’s skills in communication, teamwork, time management, and collaboration.
  3. Scholarly Achievements. The applicant’s academic history, achievements, awards, research, presentations, and more.
  4. Advocacy. The applicant’s advocacy skills, including community service and social responsibility.

Within these categories of evaluation, applicants may be interviewed for more specific things. For example, ethical decision making, communication and teamwork, the ability to advocate, and current health problems in Canada may all be probed by specific questions.

Applicants may also be asked about their motivation to study medicine, and why they chose that specific school for admission.

Three Tips of MPI Success:

  1. Know as much as possible regarding the school to which you are applying – and be able to clearly communicate why you have chosen it.
  2. Be able to intelligently articulate yourself  in each category, using personal experiences and anecdotes when possible. 
  3. Conduct yourself in a professional manner as grades are awarded for the content of the interview, alongside how the content is presented.

MPI Interview Example Questions

MPI exam questions are difficult to generalize because they’re formulated uniquely around each applicant. MPI interviews are much like traditional panel interviews where applicants are asked to discuss their relevant strengths and previous experiences.

Here are a few mock MPI exam questions:

  • From your file, I can see that you have a lot of experience doing hospital internships. Please describe your strategy regarding networking with medical staff and supervisors. What is the most important lesson you learned interning?
  • Why did you choose our school over other schools? 
  • What about our school appeals to you in terms of your medical education?
  • What career would you choose other than medicine, and why?

Five Ways to Prepare for the MPI

1. Be prepared to discuss your autobiographical sketch

The most important thing to do when preparing for the MPI interview is to be very familiar with one’s autobiographical sketch. Interviewers will formulate many of their questions from the applicant’s past experiences, and expect applicants to discuss them at length in a thoughtful and credible fashion.

2. Be able to discuss your application in relation to the four categories

Applicants must be prepared to discuss their entire application in detail and give insight and reasons for their experiences, choices and professional aspirations, as the example questions demonstrate (above). Remember, each aspiring doctor will be evaluated through the lens of the four categories stated above, so responses should ideally be formulated to prove your strength in these categories.

3. Be current on medical events, issues, and the healthcare system, both in Canada and Internationally

Applicants must also familiarize themselves with current medical events, both locally and internationally. Applicants may be asked questions about Canada’s healthcare system, medical education, or international issues pertaining to healthcare or ethics.

4. Be specific: personalize your responses

If possible, applicants should personalize their responses by relating questions to personal experience or insight; relating a topic to a personal experience helps establish a more grounded and experienced perspective in the eyes of interviewers — and can serve to win you points.

5. Use an MPI Practice Test

Creating an MPI practice test and rehearsing it with a friend or colleague will help immensely. It is important to practice how you answer your questions—your manners, body language, eye-contact, and what you wear—as well as the answers you provide.

How MedApplications Can Help You Prepare for the MPI

Medical school applications are one of the most stressful things you’ll ever have to do in your life. There are many things you need to consider when preparing to apply for medical school.

You may have dedicated most of your undergrad years to studying, extracurriculars and squeezing in time for a personal life. With that completed, you’re finally ready to make your dream of medical school come true.

Don’t let nerves or a lack of confidence get in the way of getting into your dream school. We can help you get there — without uncertainty or unclear direction!

Look to our MedApplications team, expert physicians and medical professionals who can help you prepare for more certain future in medical school.

As part of our many services, we offer personalized MPI interview prep courses with experienced physicians who will guide you through each step of the way.

Are you looking to improve your chances of acing your MPI interview?

Look to MedApplications to help you:

  • assess your strengths and weaknesses
  • hone your interview skills
  • understand exactly what a med school admissions office looks for in a successful applicant

Ace your MMI Interview!

Enroll with our MMI physician-led program and receive in-depth coaching sessions, mock interviews and more.

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