How to tackle dental interviews

dental admissions interview prep

So you got a dental school what?

What to expect 

There are many different interview formats that schools may choose to conduct. It is important to note and prepare for the interview type that the school mentions in their interview invitation. If it is not mentioned, try looking up the program on Student Doctor Network (SDN) under “Interview Feedback” to see if it is listed what style of interview is conducted. Most commonly, the interview will be 1:1 with a faculty, alumni, or member of the admissions committee. Occasionally the interview may be conducted with a current student. If the interview invitation includes the name of your interviewer, look them up before to know what type of dentist or professor they are!

The four most common interview types are listed below:

  • Group: Conducted with multiple applicants at once. Often the interviewer (1 or more) will ask a question to the group and applicants will take turns answering the question. It is important to speak up and be confident, but do not appear too aggressive or dominating. This type is uncommon for dental applicants.
  • Open filed: The interview has access to your application and has skimmed over important parts. They will likely ask about specific activities or classes that you have listed on your application. Make sure to read through your complete application before the interview – they can ask about anything! 
  • Closed filed: The interview has not seen your application. It is important to mention important activities and experiences that you want to share in the interview because they are not aware of anything that you are involved in. This is your chance really show what you are passionate about!
  • MMI (multiple mini-interviews): Although more common in medical school interviews, some dental schools conduct MMI (such as Iowa and Michigan). This style is when an interview will give a prompt with a scenario question (ethical, logical, emotional, situational), and you will be given a couple of minutes to prepare a response. These require the most preparation and it is recommended to do practice online or with peers. 

Most often, an interview will contain two interviews. In my experience, it does not make a huge difference if the interviewer is faculty, alumni, or admissions. The biggest difference is whether it is closed or open file. I want to emphasize that you should read through your ENTIRE application before the interview. You should be able to fully talk about everything you put into your application, including all activities and extracurriculars. 

How to Prep

At this point, you have snagged the admissions committee’s attention with your statistics, extracurriculars, and personal statement. Now the school wants to get to know you as a person to see if you would be a good fit in their student body. Whether conducted in person or zoom, interviews are often nerve-wracking. Practicing with peers, friends, family, and every yourself can be extremely beneficial before the real thing. I spent a couple of hours in front of my bedroom mirror practicing responses to various questions. Often the answer seems simple in our minds, but it can be challenging to articulate thoughts clearly and professionally on-the-spot without practice. No matter what, be genuine and honest in your responses. The admissions committee reads and speaks to dozens to hundreds of qualified applicants and can see through disingenuous or exaggerated stories. 

A few common questions to practice include: 

  • Introduce yourself/ Tell me a little bit about yourself?
  • Why dentistry?
  • What is the biggest challenge you have faced in life/school?
  • Tell me about a time you failed? 
  • Follow up questions about your experiences / scores?

Before your interview, ask current students or older peers who have interviewed for tips! You may also find feedback and commonly asked questions on Student Doctor Network. 

Be yourself and good luck!


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