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The Modified Personal Interview (MPI) – What is it? And why should I prep for it?

If you have received an interview at the University of Toronto, congratulations!

The University of Toronto uses a special type of interview technique. It’s not a traditional /panel interview where you are asked questions about yourself by one or two people, and it’s not an MMI where you have a bunch of stations with actors/evaluators.

Instead, you can think of the MPI like a mix of both the MMI and a traditional interview.

Let’s dig in to the theory and psychology behind the MPI so that you best know how to prepare!

If you take a look at UofT’s website you will see that the MPI “consists of four independent interviews assessed by four different, independent interviewers. Interviewers are closely connected to U of T’s medical community. Each interview is approximately 12 minutes in length.”

Because you have four different people interviewing you, you now have 4 chances to impress. Whereas with a panel interview, you only have that one shot. And if it doesn’t go as planned, you don’t really have a chance to redeem yourself…With the MPI, remember that if one interview does not go the way you planned, you need to let it go and move on. The next person you meet will have no idea what just happened in the last interview. Clean slate, fresh start, new chance to impress!

What are they looking for?

There are some main skills that UofT calls “clusters”. These are “professional”, “communicator/collaborator/manager”, “advocate”, and “scholar”. Here is the table from the UofT website. While an MMI might test your “communicator” skill by placing you in a room with an actor and seeing how you actually communicate, an MPI style question would be something like “what makes you a good communicator? Speak about a personal example that demonstrates your ability to communicate.”

CLUSTER ATTRIBUTES, ACTIVITIES AND ACHIEVEMENTS
PROFESSIONAL maturity, reliability, perseverance and responsibility
COMMUNICATOR/COLLABORATOR/MANAGER   communication, collaboration, teamwork, time management and leadership
ADVOCATE advocacy, community service and social responsibility

SCHOLAR

academic standing, achievements in leadership, research and social responsibility as demonstrated by (but not limited to) awards, conference presentations, publications and scholarships

Where do these clusters come from?

They actually come directly from the CanMEDS Roles if you are not familiar with CANMEDS – this is one of the first things you should look at in order to understand what an evaluator might look for in your answer. Explore the website and read about the different skills. This will give you insight into how to talk about your experiences!

We asked some of our top coaches to comment on their MPI experiences and here is the summary:

  • There is a mix of standard questions, as well as some that are more applicant specific. Be prepared to answer questions about your application (resume, extra-curricular activities)
  • The interviews are quite conversational, the questions can shift slightly, but are all within a “theme” of the interview station.
  • It really is important to be yourself! The point of the interview is to get to know you.
  • It’s very important to know about the school! It’s values, culture, etc.
  • It’s important how you present your answers, not just what you say. Make sure you practice delivering well organized answers.
  • Make sure you can talk about yourself in relation to the 4 clusters!
  • Remember, you are in a room with someone who has been interviewing candidates all day, so it is important to have a story that is memorable!
  • Get some sample questions and practice! Not just your answers but also how you say it, body language, etc.

Modified Personal Interview (MPI) Sample Questions

When answering these questions, try to make sure that your answer fits somewhere within the 4 clusters.

  1. From your file, I can see that you have a lot of experience doing “x experience”. Please describe your strategy with “x”. What is the most important lesson you learned?
  2. Why do you like our school over other schools? 
  3. What about our school appeals to you in terms of your medical education?
  4. What career would you choose other than medicine, and why?
  5. Describe a time when you did something wrong
  6. Describe a difficult decision that you had to make
  7. Describe a time when you did something you were not proud of
  8. Describe a time when you had to be a leader
  9. Describe a time when you learned something new
  10. Describe a time when you felt you were treated unfairly. What did you do about it?
  11. Describe a time when you had to be a follower
  12. Describe a time when you felt ashamed
  13. Describe a time when you helped someone in need
  14. Describe a time when you stood up for someone
  15. Describe a time when you were scared
  16. Describe a time when you doubted yourself
  17. Have you ever doubted whether medicine is right for you?
  18. Describe a time when you improved on a weakness
  19. Describe a time when you asked for help
  20. Describe a time when you stood up to an authority figure
  21. Describe a time when you found that you had “too much on your plate”
  22. Describe a time when you had to say “no”
  23. Describe a time when you many have lost your temper
  24. Describe a time when you felt excited. What happened?
  25. Describe a time when you had to deliver bad news
  26. Describe a time when you were wrong about something very important
  27. Describe a time when you disappointed your parents/grandparents
  28. Have you ever almost quit something but then changed your mind? Why? What did you learn?
  29. Who is your mentor? 
  30. You say you enjoy helping others. There are many other careers other than medicine where you can do that. Why medicine?

Want to practice for the MPI one-on-one with a coach?

Book a session with a coach with MPI experience! You can explore all of our coaches here. When you are ready, head over to the “Book A Session” page and schedule your coaching session!

I wish everyone a tremendous amount of luck this application cycle!

Dr. Leah Feldman MD

President of MedCoach

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