In preparation for your dental school interview, you must practice with sample dental school interview questions to hone your interview skills and build up your confidence. First a note: It's important to review sample dental school interview questions with expert analysis from when preparing for your dental school interview so you don't reinforce inappropriate answers and habits. Feedback will help you understand what makes for an ideal answer, and how you can build such ideal answers using your own unique experiences. While you may be tempted to relax after you submit your application through the , it’s important to start interview prep right away. Now, let's cover 100 dental school interview questions suitable for panel/traditional and , followed by expert responses and commentary. Let's begin!
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What is the one detail in your application you would like us to overlook?
This interview question asks you to face head-on and talk about something you’d probably like to avoid discussing, if possible. It might also be thought of as a limitation question (e.g., “”), or a question about your challenges (e.g., “Tell us about a time you failed”), and, as such, may be something you’re understandably hesitant to address. No one likes to talk about their weaker spots, particularly in a high-stakes, high-stress situation like an interview! However, it's best to own up to the low grade, or the gap in , or whatever that weak-spot might be, by re-framing it with a growth mindset. Think of this question as an opportunity to show how you have developed grit and determination to overcome academic disappointment, or to focus attention on the transferable skills you’ve developed from your experiences. As long as you are able to learn from the experience, no loss, misstep, or set-back is truly a failure.
Strategy: Accentuate the Positive
You are a dentist with a patient who has come to see you because of moderate dental pain. After examination you cannot determine the cause of the pain and suggest an X-ray. The patient believes X-rays are harmful and refuses. In fact, you have no X-rays in the patient’s file to consult as she has never consented to X-rays in the several years you have been caring for her. What do you do?
The issue here is that the patient is expressing her right to make an autonomous decision about her oral health care. However, you, as her dentist, cannot make a clear diagnosis without more information about the underlying cause of the pain. There may be some contention between you. The patient believes X-rays are harmful, but you know they are necessary to make an accurate diagnosis and develop a treatment plan.
On top of how the situation is handled (respecting the patient’s autonomy), there are a few other things of note in this response. First, appropriate terminology is utilized throughout, demonstrating knowledge of key concepts in the field – informed consent, evidence-based practice, patient autonomy, and the like.
As well, note that there are some statements that indicate not just what is said, but how the conversation took place. Little details like ensuring a private, one-on-one conversation, or sitting in such a way that doctor and patient are at eye-level to one another, help the interviewer “see” the interviewee in that role. Such details demonstrate that you know that this is likely a sensitive issue, and that you must be conscious of your own behavior when working with patients. If you don’t offer such descriptive elements, the interviewer can fill in those gaps with just about anything, and that’s not what you want. Maintain control of your narrative by using careful description to “show” the interviewer how you will act in such a scenario.
Check out this video for more dental school interview questions you NEED to know!
You are a dentist expecting a patient you haven’t seen in a few years. This low-income individual does not have dental insurance and makes appointments only when significant treatment is needed. The last time you saw them, they were unable to pay for their dental services. What do you do?
To know , you need to understand that the situations you will face are often complex and multivarious. The complexity of this situation is a matter of a dentist’s provision of care duty and the potential that a patient will be unable to pay the dentist for a treatment. This scenario puts the dentist in an ethical dilemma and suggests a conflict of interest, as she wants to provide the best treatment for her patient, but also needs to manage the costs associated with running a practice and providing the treatment. Even in places with universal health care, dental costs are generally not covered by the government, and patients rely either on insurance benefits provided by their employer and/or pay dental fees out of pocket.
What issues do the elderly face in terms of oral health care?
This is an that asks not only for your knowledge about the oral healthcare of a growing segment of the population, as we are experiencing a “greying” of our population, but also asks you to consider how as future dentist you would address their special needs.
You are a dentist who has been in practice for a number of years but are starting to feel a sense of isolation. You feel it’s difficult to establish close personal relationships as you sense nobody wants to see you or come back to see you, because either they come in pain or you cause them pain. What do you do?
The pressing issue here is a dentist’s own well-being, as dentists are prone to occupational stress that can lead to burn-out, depression, and other challenges to mental wellness. As oral health professionals, a dentist cares for their patients and runs a professional practice that is a healthy work environment for the team. Although they may strive to maintain a sense of comradery with the administrative and technical team, and show care and compassion for their patients’ “whole person,” isolation in the workplace and a sense of “carrying it all alone” can weigh heavily over time. Research suggests that dentistry is a stressful profession, and evidence suggests that a significant proportion of dentists report anxiety, depression, physical pain, or headaches on a regular basis.
Is a dental school advisor right for you? Here's how one can help:
Dental School Interview Question #6
Prompt: What qualities are most important in a dentist?
Dental School Interview Question #7
Prompt: Describe any inconsistencies or weaknesses in your record or application.
Dental School Interview Question #8
Prompt: How have you overcome a personal conflict?
Dental School Interview Question #9
Prompt: What field of dentistry do you prefer?
Dental School Interview Question #10
Prompt: Why have you picked dentistry instead of becoming a social worker?
Dental School Interview Question #11
Prompt: How did you choose your major?
Dental School Interview Question #12
Prompt: What do you read for fun?
Dental School Interview Question #13
Prompt: What steps have you taken to find out more about dentistry as a career?
Dental School Interview Question #14
Prompt: How do you study/prepare for exams?
Dental School Interview Question #15
Prompt: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
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1. Can you convince me that you can cope with the workload in dental school?
2. How do you study/prepare for exams?
3. Tell me about a mistake you've made?
4. Why do you want to attend our school in particular?
5. How would you describe the relationship between science and dentistry?
6. Why do you think you are a good candidate for dental school?
7. Give evidence that you relate well with others
8. What will be the most challenging part of your dental training and career?
9. What other dental schools are you applying to?
10. Why did you choose this school?
11. What challenges or obstacles have you faced?
12. What mistakes have you made?
13. How have you dealt with academic difficulties?
14. Have you failed in a leadership situation?
15. Explain your research. Did you enjoy it?
16. What was your most enjoyable course in college and why?
17. What motivates you?
18. What will you do if you fail to gain admission into medical school this year? Will you reapply? How would you spend the interim year?
19. What would you do if you weren't accepted to dental school?
20. What is the greatest problem facing our healthcare system today?
21. Describe a situation where you worked with people from different backgrounds
22. What type of person do you foresee as being a difficult patient? How will you handle that type of patient?
23. Upon examination of a 50 year old male patient, you determine that he has gonorrhea in the mucous membranes of his mouth/eye. His wife is one of your best friends, and you now suspect that he has had extramarital activity. How much information would you divulge about your finding to his wife? Do you encourage her to get a checkup with her physician?
24. What is the most rewarding experience of your life?
25. Do you have any particular population you would like to work with?
26. How would you help keep health care costs down?
27. What characteristics does a good dentist possess?
28. What problems do you predict dentistry will face in the next 10 years?
29. What about yourself would you like the interviewers to know?
30. Describe your hobbies and interests
31. Can you see other careers where you could achieve the same goals or meet the same needs?
32. Why should we pick you ahead of someone else?
33. Describe a conflict you observed between a health care practitioner and a patient. What did you learn from that experience?
34. What changes in dentistry do you think will affect your profession?
35. What are three things you want to change about yourself?
36. What are you looking for in a dental school?
37. How do you respond to criticism?
38. How should I remember you as an applicant?
39. What impression do you feel you've left on me?
40. Give evidence to suggest that you relate well to others
41. How would your friends describe you?
42. How do you feel your standardized test scores are?
43. What do you think we should look for in an applicant?
44. Are you aware how difficult this school will be to complete?
45. How do you plan to finance your studies?
46. What is your biggest regret?
47. What do you dislike about a profession as a dentist?
48. How does the current health system affect dentists?
49. What do you know about managed care?
50. Why are you a strong candidate for our program?
51. What are you most excited about when it comes to dental school?
52. What kind of practice environment do you see yourself in?
53. If dental school was free, would more people want to go or less?
54. What is your main motivation for wanting to become a dentist?
55. What first attracted you to dentistry?
56. You have a patient who has not seen a dentist in more than a decade and they come in with a very large number of issues. Where do you start?
57. If a patient came to you but had no way to pay, would you still treat that patient? In which circumstances is this acceptable and in which is it not?
58. Why dental school? Why not medical, nursing or physician assistant school?
59. What was your first trip to the dentist like?
60. What is your favorite aspect of dentistry?
61. Do you plan on specializing after dental school?
62. Should all dentists do some element of teaching?
63. Tell me about a time you were able to educate someone.
64. How important are lifestyle modifications when it comes to dental health?
65. If you are removing a crown on a patient and your hand slips and you cut the patient’s gum, what do you do next?
66. As with any pandemic, our profession is at a high risk. Has this changed your desire to enter the field?
67. If you have two patients who are in dire need of care, what factors do you look at to determine who you would treat first?
68. Would you still pursue dentistry if the maximum income was set at $100,000 a year?
69. Tell me about a dentist you look up to.
70. Tell me about a time you failed.
71. Tell me about a time you succeeded.
72. What do you like to do for fun?
73. What do you do to relax?
74. What brings you joy?
75. What technological advancements are you most looking forward to in dentistry?
76. When things get overwhelming, what do you do to decompress?
77. What are you most worried about in dentistry?
78. How will the profession change by 2050?
79. What excites you the most about dentistry?
80. What is the last article you read about dentistry?
81. What is your go-to source for reviewing up to date information about the field of dentistry?
82. Do you enjoy learning? Name a time you went above and beyond in a class.
83. What is your favorite movie?
84. Do you believe you have the dexterity needed to become a good dentist?
85. What would you bring to the incoming dental class?
86. What would you bring to the dental field?
87. Do you have any experience working with underserved populations?
88. If you had to pick one quality to define yourself, what would it be?
89. What specialty interests you?
90. You have a colleague who is known for overcharging patients and manipulating items on bills in his favor. What do you do?
91. If you had a classmate who showed signs of depression, what would you do?
92. How could our profession improve?
93. How could our program improve?
94. What do you like most about our program?
95. Is there anyone at our school that you are interested in working with?
96. What was your favorite class in college/university?
97. Have you ever been involved in dental research?
98. What would you consider to be your greatest asset?
99. How would your professors, supervisors, and employers describe you?
100. How do you relax?
101. What do you do in your spare time?
102. How would you describe the “ideal” dentist?
103. How do you think your major prepared you for dental school?
104. What is your understanding of the typical day of a dentist?
105. What appeals to you most about being a dentist?
106. Do you think that HIV positive dentists should be allowed to practice?
107. If the US adopted socialized medicine, how do you think it would impact dentistry?
108. To what extent should the government get involved with health care?
110. Have you had the opportunity to travel abroad?
111. What kind of community/volunteer work have you done?
112. When did you first decide to pursue dentistry as a career?
113. Can you see other careers in which you could achieve the same goals or meet the same needs?
114. How do you manage your time?
115. Are there any questions you would like to ask me?
116. How do you handle adversity?
117. Do you have any specific populations you would like to work with?
118. How would you keep health care costs down?
119. What current event in dentistry have you been following?
120. What problems do you predict that dentistry will face in the next decade?
121. Describe a situation where you’ve worked with people from different backgrounds.
122. What type of person do you enjoy being with?
123. What type of person irritates you most and how have you dealt with these types of people?
124. Where would you like to start practicing?
125. What is your most important experience that did not involve dentistry or academics?
126. Describe a situation in which you felt like a fish out of water.
127. Tell me about your shadowing experiences.
128. What extracurricular activity have you found most rewarding?
129. Who has influenced you in your life so far and why?
130. How would you describe the relationship between science and dentistry?
131. Rank intelligence, compassion, and integrity in order of importance to you.
132. What are three things you want to change about yourself?
133. What are you looking for in a dental school?
134. Tell me about an experience you’ve had working on a team. What role did you tend to play when working on a team?
135. What last bit of information would you like me to know about you?
136. Are you happy with your DAT performance?
137. How would you describe your overall academic performance?
138. Favorite thing you observed or highlights of your observation experience?
139. What time of learner are you?
140. Do you have any experiences volunteering in underserved areas?
141. What motivates you to excel?
142. If you could meet anybody, in all of history, and eat dinner with them, who would it be?
143. What would you do if you saw someone cheat on an exam?
144. What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of your personality?
145. I see you got a “C” in an undergraduate class. Why was that course so difficult? Explain.
146. What other health care professions have you considered and why did you select dental?
147. What makes you happy?
148. Who are you role models and why?
149. What causes your greatest frustrations in life?
150. You are granted three wishes by a genie. What would those wishes be?
1. What is one of the most common dental school interview question?
There are many common dental school interview questions, but perhaps the most common would be “tell me about yourself” or “why dentistry?” The commonality of questions in some sense depends on the interview format; for example, you need to know might be different from ones you would receive in a panel interview.
2. How should I prepare for a dental school interview?
The best way for you to prepare is to conduct mock interviews with a peer, ideally a professional or expert. You want to simulate the interview environment as closely as possible so you can learn to perform in the conditions of the actual interview. Review common questions, including that are less common so you’re unlikely to be caught off guard.
3. What format are dental interviews conducted in?
There are four different type of interview formats that you need to consider: one-on-one, multiple mini interview (MMI), panel interviews, and group interviews. The most common format is one-on-one, but you should still visit the website of the institution whose interview you’re preparing for so you know what to expect and how to prepare. Some regions might be more likely to use a certain format; for example, commonly use panel interviews.
4. How long are dental school interviews?
You can expect most interviews to be around 20−30 minutes, but this will vary by school. Some schools will host interviews over several days, while others incorporate a variety of formats over the course of a single day.
5. How big are class sizes for most dental programs?
Class sizes are generally between 50 and 100 students, but again, this will vary by institution and class size isn’t necessarily a measure of how likely you are to get accepted if you receive an interview request. For example, the University of Texas School of Dentistry had 1617 applicants, 279 of which were interviewed. Of applicants who were interviewed, 106 were accepted. You will need to review to gauge competitiveness, in addition to proportion of interviewees who were accepted in a given year.
6. What do I do if I don’t know the answer?
When you don’t have an answer prepared, the best you can do is to remain calm. Try to identify the type of question: is it personal, situational, ethical, policy-based, or quirk? Use the answer strategies you practiced during your mock interviews.
7. Will I have a chance to meet faculty members after the interview?
Some schools will allot time for applicants who were interviewed to meet faculty members and ask questions. You should find out who is expected to be there so you can plan to ask specific questions, perhaps about their research if you’re interested in that.
8. What do I do if I’m struggling to prepare and I lack confidence?
Use a ! It’s okay if you’re struggling; reach out to someone who can help you, who knows what it takes to prepare for this admissions procedure, which is understandably stressful for many. You can also look at for interviews that are conducted in this format.
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