In my asking around about the admissions interview for McMaster I got a second hand account of the process. The sister of a classmate attended the interview two years ago and summed it up simply as "It was weird!" O_o This made me even more curious to find information.
Although I'd been unsuccessful in finding specific information online about the admissions interview for the Masters in Occupational Therapy program (actually, an MSc (OT) program), I was not deterred. When I dug a little further I found that the McMaster University medical school pioneered a new approach to admissions interviews that has since been adopted by many other schools, in a variety of health sciences disciplines. This approach is called the Multiple Mini-Interview or MMI. If you look it up there's a ton of available research on it. And if you were expecting a traditional interview but got this instead, you would definitely walk out thinking "That was weird"... so I think it's a safe assumption that this is the kind of interview us OT applicants can expect as well. And, while I don't like assumptions generally, I think this one's a safe bet. The rehab programs fall under the umbrella of the Faculty of Health Sciences, so it makes sense that they would use the same interview format that is favored by other degree programs in the department. And barring any revelations between now and my interview date, educated guesses about what to expect are all I have!
I won't go into great detail about the MMI, because there is readily available information about it online. I even found a "Training Manual" for interviewers that you can check out!
In a nutshell, the MMI is a series of 8 minute interviews that you will have at different "stations" with different interviewers. Before each interview you'll be given a topic to discuss or a scenario related to the interview for that station and have 2 minutes to prepare. Here's the quote about them from the McMaster website:
"During the MMI, applicants will move between interview "stations" in a 12-station circuit. Each station lasts ten minutes (two minutes to read the scenario and eight minutes of interaction). At each station, applicants will interact with, or be observed by, a single rater. The stations deal with a variety of issues, which may include but are not limited to, communication, collaboration, ethics, health policy, critical thinking, awareness of society health issues in Canada and personal qualities. Applicants are not assessed on their scientific knowledge."
Also, they don't note it here but they do in the training manual for interviewers... there are no right or wrong answers. What they want you to do is demonstrate communications skills, the ability to express an opinion and articulate your reasons for support. As well, the ability to see an issue from more than one point of view and empathize with others is taken into consideration.
For some people, this style of interview might cause nightmares. But for others (me included!) I'm excited by the diversity and the opportunity to interact with many evaluators, rather than being dependant on the impressions of a few people in a single interaction. I think the idea with this style is that each candidate is bound to flub a few and shine in a few but that, on average, the school will get a fair assessment of the applicant. Furthermore, you can't just give canned responses that are prepared in advance. You need to think on your feet, be a little flexible, and while you're doing that your true colours will show through. Fakers will be found out!
In my next few posts I'll put up a number of practice scenarios I've found. Feel free to discuss what you think they're looking for in the comments section!
I hope others found this as useful as I have. And, naturally, I'll post back after my own interview to confirm whether or not this is the style used for the OT Masters program.