Oxford rejects ‘speed-dating’ interview system

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Oxford University has turned down a new interview format that is being adopted at a number of universities this year.Students at the universities will not be sitting down for a conversation with tutors – instead, they could be ‘speed-dating’ them.

Known as ‘multiple mini interviews’ (MMI), the format replaces sit-down panel questioning for medicine, dentistry and veterinary science at more than five UK institutions, including Dundee University, Cardiff University, Queen’s University Belfast, St George’s London and the Royal Veterinary College (RVC)

Oxford Medical School admissions said, “It is unlikely we will introduce MMI for pre-clinical entry. It would not allow us to develop the sort of questions we would wish to ask for entry.”The new approach is scenariobased and said to test relevant and useful skills, such as communication, teamwork and empathy, rather than just eloquence.

However, a University spokesperson said, “MMI is primarily considered by universities that do patient-centred learning. The strong scientific focus of the lab and teaching-based Oxford pre-clinical course makes the academic interview an important part of the selection process.”

Candidates assessed under MMI are given a series of tasks. They have five minutes to complete each moving between tutors at the sound of a buzzer. Dr Nigel Goode, RVC Head of Comparative Biomedical Sciences, described MMI as an “adaptable and robust test of ability and potential”

Oxford University claimed, “Interviewing is designed to specifically assess the aptitude of candidates for a course, We are confident that all the different measures we look at in combination address any potential concerning bias.”

Jocelyne Aldridge, senior policy officer of the Medical Schools Council, which represents UK medical schools’ interests, informed Cherwell, “No conclusive evidence supports a single approach to the selection of medical students; our members use a range of selection methods to suit their particular emphases.” 

Dheemal Patel, a medical student at St George’s, thought MMI was “a great step forward”. He remarked, “More interaction and application adds more rigour and thoroughness so that the best candidates can really shine.” 

In Oxford, second year St Anne’s medic Isra Hale agreed. “Doctors should be able to deal with such on-the-spot scenarios,” she said.

However, MedSoc President Sophie Vaggers disagreed, criticising the new method, “only one person hears their opinions in each mini interview and therefore it is inherently biased”.

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