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Assessment of non-cognitive traits through the admissions multiple mini-interview


Jocelyn Lockyer PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Calgary, 3330 Hospital Drive NW, Calgary, Alberta T2N 4N1, Canada. Tel: 00 1 403 220 4248;
Fax: 00 1 403 270 2330; E-mail:


Context  Contemporary studies have shown that traditional medical school admissions interviews have strong face validity but provide evidence for only low reliability and validity. As a result, they do not provide a standardised, defensible and fair process for all applicants.

Methods  In 2006, applicants to the University of Calgary Medical School were interviewed using the multiple mini-interview (MMI). This interview process consisted of 9, 8-minute stations where applicants were presented with scenarios they were then asked to discuss. This was followed by a single 8-minute station that allowed the applicant to discuss why he or she should be admitted to our medical school. Sociodemographic and station assessment data provided for each applicant were analysed to determine whether the MMI was a valid and reliable assessment of the non-cognitive attributes, distinguished between the non-cognitive attributes, and discriminated between those accepted and those placed on the waitlist (waiting list). We also assessed whether applicant sociodemographic characteristics were associated with acceptance or waitlist status.

Results  Cronbach's alpha for each station ranged from 0.97–0.98. Low correlations between stations and the factor analysis suggest each station assessed different attributes. There were significant differences in scores between those accepted and those on the waitlist. Sociodemographic differences were not associated with status on acceptance or waiting lists.

Discussion  The MMI is able to assess different non-cognitive attributes and our study provides additional evidence for its reliability and validity. The MMI offers a fairer and more defensible assessment of applicants to medical school than the traditional interview.