For the student nurse, as in most of the professional world, an interview is a vital part of the UCAS application process. Universities (at the time of writing) work with the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) to pick students for adult nursing courses they feel will be able to live up to the rigid expectations of the profession. That’s everything from literacy and numeracy (you wouldn’t want a nurse who got your morphine levels wrong because they couldn’t add up or give you the wrong medicine because they couldn’t read. RIGHT?!) to how you act as a person. It’s drilled into you during the application process: You are joining a profession. This means every aspect of you should be professional and that’s a tough, but necessary, way to think about life.
So. Set your Facebook profiles to private and untag all those drunken photos of you missing a shoe with a daiquiri in one hand and a cider in the other. Edit out the swears and unfollow the EDL. This is business. The business of saving lives. And people want a nurse who is totally dedicated to the cause and DOES NOT HAVE FUN.
As that’s the case, many universities will hold Multiple Mini Interviews, in addition to a literacy and numeracy test. To judge you. These questions and your answers will decide on whether the admissions team feels you have the qualities needed to be a nurse. Yep. Even at this early stage, you’re being judged, so get to grips with the NHS constitution and the 6Cs. They’re the backbone to the process. Without these you might as well stick to your current day job, because any prospective student nurse will have these tattooed into their brain.
I had MMI interviews at King’s College London (KCL) and Anglia Ruskin (ARU). I withdrew from City of London after my literacy and numeracy tests as I just didn’t feel like it was the place for me due to the location and strangeness, and University of Essex held more traditional face-to-face interviews. I nailed them all of course (allow me a minute of pride, ok?). But for those hoping to study nursing at KCL, ARU or any other uni, MMI is fast becoming the way forward.
What is a multiple mini interview (MMI)?
It’s exactly as it sounds. Multiple = seeing more than one interviewer. Mini = 5 minutes with each interviewer. Interview = questions and answers to determine your skills and weaknesses. You’ll be in a room with other students sat on seats in a neutral zone, and all around the room will be stations. The war zone, if you will. Each station (war box) is private so you can’t hear anyone else’s answers, and inside will be an interviewer. These could be nurses, trust representatives, patients and family members, tutors, or university staff. Each interviewer will give you five minutes to answer a question. After your time is up you’ll be asked to sit back in the neutral zone, and then move on to the next interviewer until it’s all over.
MMI questions for a Student Nurse: having a chat
MMI questions can range from personal ones, such as why you want to become a nurse, why you feel good enough to become a nurse, or what volunteer experience you have that will make you a good student, to extremely random-seeming ones. They could ask about how you’re planning to support yourself on the course, or what you’ll do to ensure you excel. They might ask whether you have any pets. Whether you think a thousand small horses are more intimidating than a giant, 10ft duck. They might ask you your favourite recipe. Or the last time you cried. It might sound odd, but for goodness’ sake don’t hesitate to answer, don’t question the question, and talk with confidence. Not too much confidence, but enough confidence.
MMI questions for a Student Nurse: all about ethics
They will also include ethical questions in which there’s no wrong or right answer. At KCL, I was shown a picture and asked how I felt about what I saw. I had to describe the situation and how I’d handle myself. At ARU I was asked to read a scenario and asked what I would do in that situation. At this stage, you ain’t no nurse, the interviewer isn’t looking to trick you over your lack of knowledge. I didn’t know procedure for the scenarios. What even is a catheter? But I talked about what I felt was a priority, or how the situation should be handled. Some of the other potential students I met on the day said the scenarios they were given at other universities didn’t have anything to do with nursing. But remember, it’s all about the 6Cs.
MMI questions for a Student Nurse: life and hobbies
Some questions are about life at university. How will you work with others? How will you work with tutors? Do you respect authority and the way things are done? Will you endure a long commute if your placement is 100 miles away from your home? What are your pastimes and hobbies? How will this help you in your nursing career? Could you get to drips with wearing unfashionable shoes and a rather unflattering tunic? Because the shoes are hideous.
Example MMI interview-style questions for Student Nurses
These aren’t questions I was asked. They are questions I’ve made up just now. However they are a good example of just how varied each station (war box) could be. How would you answer if you had 4 minutes to talk about it?
- What qualities do you think are not required for a nurse?
- If a patient asked you – a student nurse – with tears in their eyes to increase their pain medication as they are in excruciating agony, but they already are on the maximum dose, what would you do?
- If a fellow student, someone you felt was a good friend, came to you and said they were tempted to cheat on their exam, what would you do? How would you handle it?
- Three call lights all go off at the same time: one is for an elderly man who needs help to use the bathroom, the other is for a lady with a broken arm and fractured wrist who is extremely thirsty, the other is for a lady who is experiencing chronic migraines and is in for observation, who feels like she might vomit. Who do you check on first?
- Imagine you’re one term into your first year. You are travelling on a train and someone collapses in your carriage. What would you do?
See how there are no right or wrong answers? Each question is designed to look for, well, whatever the interviewer has been asked to look for. So don’t hesitate, talk with total confidence, and don’t forget you’ll be expected to justify your answer. Don’t think it’s ethical to resuscitate someone who’s dying of cancer? You should have a reason why you think that.
All in all, they’re looking at how well you’d suit the profession. Are you caring? Are you intelligent? Are you able to work proactively? Can you multitask? Will you be professional? Will you be a welcome addition to any medical team? Will patients hate you? Will I hate you? Don’t worry about that last one. But that’s what they’ll be looking for.
Whatever the question, confidence is key. Be chatty. Be yourself. Be a nice person.
MMI questions for a Student Nurse: talking to a service user
When talking to a service user, be aware you could be seeing anyone. You might be speaking to someone who’s been to A&E recently and felt the service they received was sub-par. They might have a bone to pick and you might be the bone-pickee. They could be recently bereaved and tearful when you speak to them. They might have upcoming treatment. They might have a chronic condition (which they’ll make you aware of).
At one interview, I spoke to a lovely man who’d had cancer of the larynx which required removal. What did that mean? He couldn’t speak! Ever had an interview with someone who couldn’t speak? That was a real challenge given the four minutes I had were ticking by. He said some students treated him like he had a mental disability. Others treated him like he was deaf. Others couldn’t understand him at all, panicked that he was an actual cancer patient and just froze. Seriously, if a candidate can’t handle seeing someone who is unwell and had life-altering surgery, how can they possibly be a nurse? What did I do? Just had a chat! I can’t be more literal about this, we just had a chit chat.
Answers to MMI questions…
Ok so this post might be a bit of a let-down, because you know what? There are no answers. You are being judged. You are. There’s no point telling you to be relaxed because I had about three nervous wees before I’d even started, but the key is to be confident. Know the NHS. Be calm and chatty. Talk to the interviewers like they’re a friend. Practice talking to strangers randomly to get an idea of how it feels, and get your friends and family to ask you random questions every now and then.
Nursing is about caring, and allowing patients autonomy in their care. It’s about being a champion for your patient and your colleagues. You have to be all things to all people. A friend, a tea-maker, a bearer of bad news, a laundress, a stress ball. If you can handle that, you can handle an MMI interview. Trust me.
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