How to Interview for Dental School: Part 1

Interviewing is my favorite part of getting into dental school! Finally, you are on campus with the people you might just be working with and learning from. All those hours in front of the computer preparing for the DAT, writing personal statements, and refreshing AADSAS have finally paid off.

Every part of the application is important for different reasons. I explained that the personal statement is important because it’s what gets you the interview. But the interview is what gets you accepted

Chances are if you got an interview, you have been doing something right--so don’t think you can slack off just yet! In fact, preparing for your interview should start as early as you submit your application. The relief after finally submitting that AADSAS is real, but the work isn’t over yet. 

If you got an interview, that is wonderful news! The dental school is interested in you. But they don’t “like” you yet. So don’t think if you get an interview you are already in. No school has to accept you. There are 1,000 other people hoping for that seat you want. So if you don’t leave an impression at the interview, they will pick the person who did. Real talk: Dental schools have options, you do not. 

That is why I’m going to start outlining some critical elements about dental school interviews ahead so you have all you need to ace it!

  1. Practice interviewing

This can actually be really fun. If you are connected with a college campus, usually your pre-health careers advising office or another office on campus (like a careers office) can actually conduct a practice interview with you. Obviously aim for the pre-health office practice interview if you have access because they know what adcoms are interested in, however, you can always opt for a generic practice session with someone else on campus. The important thing is that you PRACTICE! 

One of the WORST misconceptions I hear floated around in the pre-dental community is that interviews are “just a formality” and as long as you “show up” and “act like a normal person” you will get accepted. WRONG. JUST NO! Quit spreading this around!

I think a lot of people get that in their heads and it makes them take the interview less seriously. Those things I just quoted are the bare minimum. You don’t want to just “show up,” you want to “impress!” And please, DEAR GOD, do not just think “I’ll just be myself and wing it.” You will fall flat on your face and wonder why you are waitlisted or still waiting to hear back in June after your interview.

If you are not connected with a college campus who offers mock interviews, then ask the dentist you shadowed the most. Ask a trusted friend or family member. Bonus points if they are in the dental or medical realm and know what the deal is. Double bonus points if they are your brutally honest, nit-picky sibling or your judgmental mother. (Shout-out to my sister and mom.)

If you are feeling shy, and don’t want to practice with another human. (Well, you are going to need to get over that real quick.) Then you can start by recording yourself... interviewing yourself. I know. Sounds weird. Come up with some interview questions, turn your camera on your phone, computer, or just look into a mirror and start shooting away. All those questions that seem "easy" will humble you. (Trust me.) You will find that the more you practice, the more comfortable you become eventually. 

Take any feedback or criticisms seriously. Like Maya Angelou said, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Sometimes if our friends and family interview us, they might struggle to articulate what exactly you said that was wrong, but they will be able to tell you something like “that sounded arrogant,” or “you sound like you don’t know even know what you are getting at.” Remember, it is their job to hear you and give you feedback, but it is your responsibility to do something with that.

It is really important that you practice. And I don’t want it to feel like a chore for you. Some of my favorite moments were just being silly practicing with a friend or my sister. One of my favorite exercises when I would practice memorizing a 10-minute speech for speech team was to say the same script in a silly accent. (My personal favorites were attempting to sound like a British professor and German tourist, but Russian spy was a close third.) If you practice the same questions (e.g. "Tell me about yourself.") over and over without switching it up, you run the risk of sounding too rehearsed and getting "dead eyes." Practicing doesn't always have to feel serious, you can have fun too!

Stay tuned for How to Interview for Dental School: Part 2!