In your Medical School interview, you might face an MMI station where you need to give instructions. This could take the form of explaining how to tie shoelaces without using your hands, or giving directions using a map.
The interviewer at this station will follow your instructions – so you might need to re-think and re-word them if the other person does something that you didn’t want them to do.
Some example questions for this type of MMI station include:
One of the best tips for giving instructions is to break the task down into smaller steps – and 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, then work out a route. Be thorough and establish the various steps in your head to guide your instructions.
Some tips for breaking it down:
Communication questions will test your ability to explain actions and processes, so it’s important to be as specific as possible with your word choice.
For example, 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 that you pay attention to your verbal communication skills!
With these stations, it’s a good idea 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 checking that the 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 adapt and re-word what you say to suit the other person’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 (e.g. “place the block on its smooth side”).
In addition to testing your communication skills, don’t forget that this type of MMI station is also testing your resilience, patience and ability to stay calm under pressure.
It will be quite frustrating if, as described above, the other person continually misinterprets your instructions – but remember to stay calm!
The Medical School interviewer 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 other person 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.
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