Dental school interviews vary. Some are one-on-one with an interviewer, others are with current dental students at the school or even a group interview with other applicants. To be a successful interviewee, you must feel comfortable and confident in all of these instances. Avoid over-stressing by reading these tips from current dental students who have been in our shoes.
1. Don’t assume that the admissions officer knows how badly you want to become a dentist.
In your interview, you want to show off your passion for dentistry. Interviewers have only seen your transcript and your application. A few pieces of papers cannot express the level of purpose you wish for in professional school.
Dental school admission officers have to select from a large pool of applicants those who can endure the long and expensive path to dentistry. Admission officers know that some dental students drop out after their first or second year, and the school wants to limit that as much as possible. They try to filter out the people that may not be 100% dedicated to the profession, and persuading the admission officers is the first thing you should do. There’s a reason why they chose to interview you, always remember that.
A very common question that addresses dedication and passion is, “Why do you want to become a dentist?” If you say, “I love helping people,” the interview may not go so well. To answer this question, dig deep and really ask yourself why you are going to put yourself through the many years of intense schooling. Try giving an experience or anecdote to show why and how you became interested in dentistry.
2. Realize that dental school and eventually practicing dentistry is not easy. Convey to the admissions officer that you can handle it, including adversities that may occur.
Of the thousands of dental school applicants, the admission department of those respected institutions have a good idea of the type of person who will be successful at their dental school. Unfortunately, many students don’t realize that those who achieved 4.0s throughout college will be challenged not just intellectually, but emotionally. The admissions department seeks out those who can handle both facets of dental school, the good and the bad. To leave a lasting impression, you should address some of the challenging aspects of practicing dentistry and explain how you will be able to overcome those problems in a professional matter.
3. Know the ins and outs of your application.
Most of the time, the interviewer will have your transcript and application in front of them. These admission officers have been trained to interview students and will ask about your background, from volunteer activities to undergraduate clubs. You must know what to say or you will look unprepared and sloppy. Bottom line: know the details of everything you include on your resume.
4. Show them that you’re human.
This is the most important tip (in my opinion). Surprisingly, some interviewees are hesitant to show their personality to the admissions officers. Instead of being a unique applicant, they turn into a robot—a high-tech talking robot at that. The admissions department knows your GPA, your DAT score, your resume. Something they don’t know is who is behind the paper. This is your time to shine. Show the admissions officer that you are a personable applicant, who is easy to get along with. I’m not saying to crack one of your funniest jokes, but somehow convey to them that you are a person instead of just a test score.
Be confident. Stay true to yourself. Show the admissions department the personality that your patients in the future will soon love. Good luck!
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~Ali Raza, Michigan State University ’16, predental