After months of writing your personal statement, filling out seemingly endless secondary applications, and waiting to hear from the dental schools, an interview offer is concrete evidence that you have advanced in the admissions process.
Exhilaration is often quickly replaced by nervousness when an applicant is notified of an invitation to interview at a dental school. They wonder what to wear, what the day will be like, and most importantly, the steps to take to get ready for the interview.
Here are my responses to some of the questions I am commonly asked about dental school interviews:
- What should I wear? A suit. Your goal is to present yourself as a serious candidate for a position in dental school and someone whom the interviewer can envision as a dental professional. Men should wear a suit and tie; for women either a suit consisting of a jacket and skirt or jacket and pants is appropriate. Jewelry and make-up should be tasteful and polished. While you should be conservative in your overall appearance, you do not need to erase every vestige of your personality. Occasionally an applicant will arrive to meet me for a practice interview with hair pulled severely back in a bun. Usually the applicant looks uncomfortable with the style, as though she has never worn her hair this way before, and unless she is a ballet dancer, she probably hasn’t. While hair in one’s face or a color not found in nature are not advisable for an interview, you can work with your natural style in order to present yourself as a future dentist and still feel comfortable and confident.
- What is a typical interview day like? Interview day usually consists of a tour, one or more interviews, presentations about the school by an admissions officer or member of the dental school faculty, lunch and sometimes the opportunity to sit in on a course or clinic. Some schools give extensive presentations on topics such as financial aid, student services or the curriculum, while other schools keep the day briefer. The length of each interview may range from approximately thirty minutes to an hour.
- How should I prepare? Questions may be asked about items discussed on your application, so make sure that you are ready to talk about any information that you have mentioned there. In addition, formulate responses for questions about your motivation for dentistry, reasons for applying to the school and other commonly asked questions. Ethical scenarios and questions about current events or issues in dentistry may also be posed, so research these topics prior to the interview. Think about details and anecdotes that you can use to support your answers. However, do not memorize entire answers. The interview should be a fluid conversation, not a rehearsed speech. Finally, practice interviewing. No amount of thinking and writing can replace the experience of stating your answers out loud in an interview setting. The practice interview should be conducted with someone familiar with the dental school admissions process and who will assess the content of your responses, tone, delivery, eye contact, body language and all of the other elements that go into making a strong, positive impression on interview day.