Master frequently asked interview questions

Interviewing can be one of the most nerve-racking experiences for job seekers. First impressions are everything and achieving a successful interview takes intentional preparation. The best way to prepare for an interview is to think through answers to the most frequently asked questions and practice ahead of time. This will help you appear positive, polished and genuine. To get started, these are five of the top interview questions for dentists and some insights into what interviewers look for from applicants.

1. What do you know about our dental office?
Do the homework. Search for everything available in the public domain about the owner-dentist and their practice, including the website, online reviews, LinkedIn, Facebook and any other information that can be found online. DSO, group and solo practice models vary widely, so take the time to understand how this opportunity stands out from others.

In asking this question, the interviewer is trying to understand what attracted you to the job opportunity. They want to get a feel for whether there is something about the opportunity that is truly meaningful or whether you are just looking for a paycheck.

So, how can you stand out? Make a connection with the owner-dentist or practice and talk about an aspect you uncovered that aligns well with your goals. For instance, if you find that the practice has participated in local community events and charities, you can talk about why community involvement is important.

2. How did you decide dentistry was the right career for you?
This is an opportunity for you to show the interviewer what drives you professionally. Make it personal and be genuine. Don’t make the mistake of giving the answer you think the interviewer wants to hear. If it comes across as generic or artificial, it can work against you.

Interviewers ask this question to understand your passion and dedication to dentistry. Your first inclination may be to say, “I went into dentistry because I wanted to help people.” Instead, tell a personal story about what first attracted you to dentistry or why you are so passionate about the profession. This is an opportunity to be sincere and tell a brief personal story that the interviewer will remember.

3. What makes you unique or different from your peers?
Spend time developing your value proposition and how you can best articulate it. The interviewer is evaluating whether they should hire you over the next applicant, and your answers to this question are one of the best opportunities to outshine the competition. If hired, what will you bring to the table that is exceptional?

As Coco Chanel said, “In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.” Which qualities and specific examples set you apart? If you can show the interviewer what’s in it for them if they hired you, your chances of landing the job increase. And remember to be likeable. An interviewer chooses to bring you in because of your qualifications, but they choose to hire you based on whether they like you and feel you are a good fit for the practice. 

4. What are your financial goals?
Many job seekers shy away from talking numbers in the interview. However, it’s important to have a transparent conversation about goals early in the process. The interviewer will understand that you may have a lot of debt, and they want to see that you have a plan to achieve your financial goals.

Do research ahead of time and know the industry standards for dentist compensation. You might say, “I know that average new dentist earns $120,000 to $150,000 per year, and I am looking be on the top end of this range, and here is why.” Be specific and measurable when talking about financial goals and debt repayment. 

5. What experience in your life has shaped you as a person?
This is another opportunity to be memorable. The interviewer is looking to make a connection with you and understand who you are on a personal level. Tell a story that might show a little vulnerability, but keep it professional. Think about the qualities you gained from the experience and how they continue to impact and benefit you on a personal and professional level.

Once you’ve thought through the answers to common interview questions, the next step is to practice and get feedback from others. Consider filming yourself and practicing your answers in the mirror to observe body language and facial expressions. It is also helpful to engage in mock interviews with people you trust. This is the best way to get valuable feedback on how you are articulating answers, and it helps you practice making eye contact, smiling and having good posture throughout the interview.

By taking an intentional approach to preparing for the toughest interview questions, you will not only feel more confident going into your interview, but also increase your odds of achieving success.

~Rebecca Sorci, MBA, University & Clinician Communications Manager for Pacific Dental Services®

This blog post is sponsored by Pacific Dental Services.

Pacific Dental

Founded in 1994, Pacific Dental Services® (PDS®) is one of the country’s leading dental support organizations, providing supported autonomy that enables dentists to concentrate on clinical excellence and the highest levels of cost-effective comprehensive patient care.

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