MMI Giving Instructions
Another station that may feature in your MMI is one which tests your ability to give instructions. You might be asked to give directions using a map, or to explain how to tie shoelaces without using your hands. These stations are testing your communication skills, your ability to stay calm under pressure and your ability to re-word your instructions. This page will detail our top tips on approaching these stations.
Got a med school interview? Book your space on an MMI Circuit!
Book a space on our MMI Circuit
Break the task down into smaller steps
These stations are often testing your ability to break something down into a series of smaller steps to complete the task. Try to verbalise a clear, logical thought process. For example, if your task is to give directions, locate your position on the map and the destination, and work out a route.
Getting from Door A to Door B, for example, will involve several turns through different rooms and opening doors – so try to break these steps down in your head to guide your instructions. If you separate each instruction according to these steps (for example, ‘firstly, turn left onto the corridor, then turn right’), the interviewer or actor is far more likely to be able to follow them. Using clear transitions, such as ‘next’ and ‘then’, will not only make your instructions clear to your interviewer but will also help you to focus on each step.
Be as specific as possible with your word choice
Most of these stations will focus on your ability to explain actions and processes, so it’s important to be as specific as possible with your word choice.
You may be asked to give instructions to build a certain shape with coloured blocks, or you might be asked to explain to somebody how to tie shoelaces – so it’s crucial you pay attention to your verbal communication skills! With these stations, the trick is to begin by stating what the goal of the task is (‘our goal is to tie these shoelaces and I’m going to give you instructions’) and then check that the actor or interviewer is ready.
The person following your instructions may deliberately misinterpret what you say to test your ability to re-word your instructions. For example, they may try to tie the wrong shoelace, or put a red block in the wrong place. In these situations, it’s best to use specific, instructive words – for example, ‘use the shoelace on the left’ or ‘using your right hand, stack the red block on top of the yellow block’.
The key here is to be ready to re-word what you say to suit the actor’s behaviour. If they continually place the blocks in the wrong places, try specifying the colour of the block to move and the colour of the block to place it by, as well as which side to place it down (ie, ‘place the block on its smooth side’).
As well as testing your communication skills, don’t forget that these stations are also testing your resilience, patience and ability to stay calm and persevere under pressure. It will be quite frustrating if, as described above, the actor continually misinterprets your instructions – but remember to stay calm!
This kind of station is assessing your approach to the task, not the outcome of the task, so don’t worry if you don’t manage to guide the actor successfully. As long as you have attempted to instruct them to the best of your ability, stayed calm and reworded your instructions where appropriate, you’ll be marked well.
Giving Instructions: Example Scenarios
- The station requires you to instruct somebody to pick up a small number of blocks and place them onto a particular point on an A4 card, using a clamp. The card has other blocks on it surrounding the point – and knocking them over would lose you points. Explain how to lift the blocks onto the card.
- Explain how to tie shoelaces without using hand gestures.
- You are given a map and told to give directions from Door A to Door B.
Want more examples? Check out our MMI questions and answer guides on our Interview Question Bank!
Access free MMI questions