Congratulations! You have been invited to interview for dental school. Your countless hours of preparation and hard work have culminated to this point. This is the final hurdle to get accepted into dental school, so there is a lot of pressure to do well. Well, look no further. This guide will teach you how to prepare for a dental school interview.
Research the dental school prior to the interview. You may have done this when you were looking at which school to apply to, but this time your research is on a larger scale. You want to research their mission statement, acceptance rates, accomplishments, and specific information about the dental program. There are a few important reasons for conducting this research:
Dental schools often have mission statements and criteria listed for prospective students. These indicate the type of students they seek and what they expect to see in their candidates. For example, the “About” section on the University of Alabama, Birmingham School of Dentistry website provides information about the institution, including its values, mission, and information about the seven academic departments. Their goal is to lead oral health locally and globally. Research the dental school’s core values and curriculum to give you a better idea of what interviewers want to see in their applicants.
The information you find in your research can be incorporated into your answers during your dental school interview. Keywords or phrases can be included to display your knowledge and how your goals align with those of dental school. Interviewers will see that you took the time to understand what the university stands for and how your and the school’s desires intertwine.
When you incorporate your research into your responses, interviewers know you took the time to learn about the dental school. This makes you a serious candidate in comparison to those who do not research ahead of time. They understand that you took the time to learn about the school, its values, and how they relate to you on your journey to becoming a dentist.
When the interviewers ask if you have questions for them, you want to ask them things you can’t find with a simple online search. Researching the dental school ahead of time prevents you from asking weak questions such as “What is the estimated tuition at this school?”. Asking a question like this will only convey to the interviewers that you have not prepared for the interview and are not taking this process seriously. Researching the dental school ahead of time helps structure serious questions that only interviewers can answer, not Google.
There are different formats in which your interview can be conducted, and each one requires different standards of which you should be aware. Remember, dental school interviews can be conducted in-person or virtually, so be sure to find this out before the big day
Some medical schools still use the traditional interview style as part of their selection processes, such as one-on-one and panel formats. The one-on-one format involves the interviewee being asked questions by a single interviewer. Multiple interviewers conduct panel interviews. Traditional interview styles are centered more around questions rather than tasks. This format becomes more of a conversation between you and the interviewers rather than being asked questions back-to-back. You also have more time to answer each question, as opposed to the MMI format. Traditional interviews can last anywhere from thirty minutes to a few hours; this does vary from school to school, so be prepared to spend most of your day at the interview.
The Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) format is another format used for dental school interviews. MMIs are broken down into shorter interviews, and you may be asked questions or scenarios to which you must respond. Unlike with traditional interviews, MMIs give you a short amount of time to prepare your response to the question or scenario presented. Most dental schools have adapted to the MMI format for dental school interviews. MMIs take roughly two hours total to complete, with each interview “station” lasting 10 minutes.
While not as common, some schools conduct group interviews. Applicants are brought together and asked to answer the same question or scenario in front of one another. This is probably the most competitive format because you compete against other interviewees in the same room, and their responses may intimidate you. However, interviewers conduct the group interview format to understand better who stands out in the crowd as their ideal candidate.
Attending mock interviews is a great way to practice for your dental school interview for a few key reasons:
Specialists conduct mock interviews to give you an idea of what to expect for the real interview. They know what to expect because they have been in your position at one point in time, so their questions are similar to those you might come across during your dental school interview. Therefore, these interviews are as close to the real interview as you can get.
Mock interviews provide you with a chance to identify and correct your weaknesses. Let’s say you feel reasonably confident in your interview abilities. Still, after the mock interview, the interviewer states that you struggled to convey yourself clearly and failed to answer some of the questions asked thoroughly. If this was the actual interview, this could result in your application not being accepted into dental school. But because you found this information out about your interview abilities, you have a chance to improve prior to the big day.
Practice makes perfect, and it helps you mentally. By attending mock interviews, you have a better idea of what to expect for your real interview. You are given tips and feedback on how you can excel during your actual interview, thereby relieving a great deal of anxiety and stress.
When you study for an exam, you feel more prepared and confident that you will pass your test. Likewise, when you attend mock interviews, you have a better idea of what to expect during your dental school interview and are more prepared for it. When you are more prepared, you feel more confident that you will be successful. Mock interviews give you the confidence boost you need to walk into that interview with the intent to get accepted into dental school.
Interviewers want to know if you can handle the difficulties involved with becoming a dentist. There is rigorous coursework and hours of training to prepare you for the profession, and admissions committees want candidates who they know can complete the program. Therefore, you want to have a thorough understanding of dentistry as a profession and convey to admissions committees that you can meet their standards.
You want to prove that you can handle the challenges that come with the profession and include evidence to back up your claim. For example, talk about your research on the dental profession and your understanding of its commitment. Then, have examples of times when you exemplified your abilities and how they relate to your dentistry understanding. This allows you to demonstrate your knowledge about being a dentist and how you embody the qualities dental schools seek in their candidates.
You will most likely be asked why you wish to pursue dentistry, and you cannot answer, “Because I want to help people.” You have to provide more information to the interviewers to convey that you are ideal for dental school. Be ready to clearly and confidently state why you want to become a dentist. Be sure to touch upon the following:
1. Why you want to pursue dentistry.
2. The rigorous program and your dedication to it.
3. How current trends in dentistry affect your desire to become a dentist.
4. Your compassion and enthusiasm.
Interviewers will ask about you to gain a better sense of who you are as a person, so be prepared to talk about yourself. Many interviews begin with, “Tell me about yourself.” This is your chance to start your dental school interview off on the right note. A few topics to cover when speaking about yourself include:
Describe the area you wish to specialize in, if you have one, or what area is of interest. You can also describe two or three characteristics about yourself to give yourself an easy transition into this topic.
Talk about any academic achievements or extracurricular activities that matter to you or have had an impact on you; it shows interviewers what you can bring to dental school. Discuss how you managed a work-life balance as it will indicate that you can handle the challenges of dental school.
No matter how you talk about yourself, you always want to conclude why you feel you are a good fit for dental school. Connect what you know about the school to your personality and goals; show how they align to prove you are an excellent fit for dental school.
Whether your interview is conducted in-person or virtually, you want to dress correctly for the part. If a dental school provides you with a dress code for the interview, follow it . If not, wear professional business attire rather than business casual. Take a look at the following image comparing the difference between business professional and business casual:
Blazers and tailored clothing is a general business professional outfit for both men and women. Notice how the attire fits and is an appropriate length. You don’t want to wear anything so tight that the button may pop any second, nor do you want your clothes to be so big that you are swimming in them. Men and women should wear neutral colors, nothing too bright or flashy. For example, women should not wear a sequin top beneath a blazer. Instead, a solid button-up exudes professionalism. Here are a few other things men and women must know when dressing for a dental school interview:
- Neatly trimmed or manicured nails
- Polished, conservative shoes
- Professional hairstyle
- Little to no jewelry on
- Shirt tucked in
- Show visible tattoos
- Wear heavy perfume or cologne
- Have excessive pierces visible
- Show too much skin
- Have neon or brightly-colored hair
- Wear brightly-colored clothing
Here are some tips to help your prepare for your dental school interview:
You have made it this far, so that means the admissions committee sees potential in you. If you have practiced, you are more prepared than many of the applicants. Be confident in your abilities and skills, and you will go far.
If you are unsure what the question is, you can ask the interviewer to repeat the question or clarify what they said. Don’t try to answer a question you do not fully understand. You will find yourself babbling and not answering the question thoroughly.
When asked a question, be sure to take a stance. Do not second-guess yourself. Interviewers will see this indecision and question your ability to thrive as a dentist. Be firm in your responses.
With each response, you want to reiterate your desire to pursue dentistry and how you would be a great dentist. This will confirm their interest in you and your interest in the program at their university
The last thing you want to do is arrive late to your dental school interview; it reflects poorly upon you. Remember, you don’t want to arrive excessively early and be left waiting while the interviewers prepare. So, intend to arrive at least fifteen to twenty minutes early.
Make sure your interview clothes are clean and fit correctly. Do not stress yourself by running around at the last minute, trying to find your interview clothes. Make sure your clothes are ironed, and if they need to be dry-cleaned, be sure you do so in advance.
Yes, it would help if you were keeping up-to-date on current events in dentistry. You may be asked about a trend in dentistry and your stance on it during the interview. So it is imperative to be aware of what is going on.
Absolutely! You want to show your interest in dental school and that you have done your research to ensure that this profession is right for you. Ask questions about the program, the school, and anything you feel you should know. Do not ask questions whose answers can be found on the internet, such as questions relating to tuition and the school’s mission statement.
Generally, you want to make sure you do not have to reschedule your dental school interview, but if you must, you want to explain why and provide the admissions committee with dates that you are available.
Most dental school admissions committees urge students to view themselves primarily as general practitioners. Many students who have decided on a specialty end up changing their minds once they enter dental school. Therefore, you do not have to know what area you wish to specialize in by the time of the interview.
Dental schools interview from August to November of the admissions cycle. From December to February of the admissions cycle, dental schools inform applicants of their admission status. While this may vary depending upon the dental program, you should expect to hear back between December and January.
For commonly asked dental school interview questions, check out samples from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine. These will provide you with a general idea of what you may be asked.
Interviews are never easy, and with the pressure of a dental school interview, you want to be sure you are prepared for it. There are many factors to consider, such as the school’s expectations, what will be discussed, and how the interview is formatted. By using this guide, you will be thoroughly prepared for your dental school interview.