The “tell me about yourself” question is traditionally and commonly asked at the beginning of your dental school interview. If you apply to one of the dental schools in Canada or go through the AADSAS application process, talking about yourself will most likely be the first hurdle you have to jump in your interview. What seems like a straightforward statement has for sure triggered some teeth grinding in generations of would-be dentists before you. It does not have to, though! Find out how to answer the “tell me about yourself” dental school interview question in this article. Let us help you pick the right pieces of your story and craft them into a memorable, convincing, and engaging reply that clears the way for the rest of your interview.
>>Want us to help you get accepted? Schedule a free strategy call here.<<
Listen to the blog!
“Tell Me About Yourself” — The Why Behind this Common Interview Question
You know how to become a dentist. You have practiced and prepared some of the hardest dental school interview questions. And you have already provided all your personal information, so why do the interviewers want to hear about it again and in even more detail?
Want to learn expert answers to your dental school interview questions? Watch this video:
“Tell me about yourself” is not a trick question, and neither is it a simple icebreaker. Believe it or not, it's the perfect opening question for both sides. Giving you a chance to introduce yourself in your own words in front of the dental school’s representatives not only puts a face to your name and dental school personal statement, it also makes you feel valued, seen, and heard, which is the essential basis for a meaningful conversation. This is your opportunity to persuade as a person and as a human being, not only as one of many applicants.
You can influence what comes next by providing information that interests your interviewer. Depending on what you say, they will most likely ask for more details, either out of gratitude for some inspiring input that helps them figure out their next question or before heading into questions that require more expertise. Remember to stick to the question you are asked, as it can be presented in different ways, for example, "give us some insight into your background." Also resist the temptation to cover every other topic in your answer. Although you should always link your personal qualities, experiences, and skills to your interest in dental school, you will have other opportunities to talk about why you want to be a dentist or answer "why this dental school."
What Does "Tell Me About Yourself" Mean?
“Tell me about yourself” means exactly what it says. The dental school’s representatives want to get you to know better, so they can decide if you are the right candidate for their school.
You have passed the tests and have excellent grades. Your skills, qualities, experiences, and your potential to become a dentist were addressed by your dental school letter of recommendation. But can you also demonstrate those core competencies and the personality of a future dentist?
Answering the “tell me about yourself” question in your dental school interview means telling the story of who you are today and how you got here. It also means giving your interviewers an idea of who you could become as a dentist.
When answering the "tell me about yourself" question, you invite the interviewers into your personal life and allow them to discover some otherwise hidden facts about you. You might want to tell them why you want to get into dental school, despite the competitive dental school acceptance rates. What experiences have shaped you? What makes you, you? What drives you every day? And what do you do in your spare time? You can reveal events here, experiences, hobbies, and people that influenced you, helped you grow, and are also connected to your future career as a dentist – directly or indirectly. If your interviewers like what they hear, you will be one step closer to admission.
“Tell Me About Yourself” Dental School Example #1
I was born and raised on a farm in Elie, Manitoba. While everyone was busy during seeding and harvest season, everything slowed down in the winter, and we spent more time inside. My three brothers and I used to read every book my parents had in the house. Once we had one finished, we started building miniature scenes from the book, using different materials we could find around the house. My favorite project one year was building Bilbo Baggins’ house from Lord of the Rings. We used drywall, plaster, matches, and stones, and the whole house turned out so well that my mother decided to keep it, so she could show it around each Christmas. I think that was when I realized I really enjoy working with my hands, carefully assembling things. My interest in dentistry developed a little later during high school when I volunteered at a homeless shelter in Winnipeg. There was a dentist coming to the shelter every other week, offering free services to people in need. It’s really hard for the homeless to take care of their teeth; they often lose them. Did you know that homeless people are twelve times more likely to develop dental problems than the average person with a roof over their head? That really stuck with me. I want to give people, especially those in need, their smiles back, and what better way is there than becoming a dentist?
“Tell Me About Yourself” Dental School Example #2
I was always absolutely fascinated by teeth, if not obsessed. When I lost my first milk tooth, I insisted on carrying it everywhere I went, showing it to everyone I met. It was an absolute miracle for me when the new set of permanent teeth came in, and unlike other kids, I loved brushing and even flossing them! At the age of six, I also started collecting all kinds of animal teeth. Today, I own over a hundred teeth, including snake and shark teeth and a pug’s tooth my dog lost when he chewed on a stone. So, I knew pretty early in life that I wanted to become a dentist. My interest in coloring miniature figurines has served me well also in developing strong eye-hand coordination. I can spend hours patiently painting tiny, precise strokes and patterns. When I am not collecting teeth or painting figurines, you can find me on the soccer field, coaching a team of six- to eight-year-olds. I also play soccer twice a week in a mixed-level team, and together we organize tournaments and community events for children. I would love to become a children’s dentist. Too many kids fear going to the dentist and do not know how to take good care of their teeth. With my passion for teeth and my previous work with children, I can imagine myself becoming a fun and welcoming dentist.
“Tell Me About Yourself” Dental School Example #3
As a kid, I was terrified of going to the dentist. My grandmother used to tell me this story when she got a tooth pulled by her father, who was a cattle farmer. The next dentist was miles away, and my granny’s dad was a practical man. So, when one of her incisors got loose after a play accident, he pulled it without hesitation. The gap where the tooth had been remained for the rest of my grandmother's life, and I avoided going to the dentist until I turned 15. Most of my teeth were severely decayed by then. I was ashamed and barely smiled. My mother forced me to finally see a dentist, and what can I say? It literally changed my life. Not only did the dentist restore most of my teeth, but she also let me help out in her clinic during a high school internship job. I became immediately interested in restorative dentistry, given my background, but I also enjoyed hearing the patients’ stories and watching the process of them getting new teeth. So, I should probably thank my grandmother for scaring me away from the dentist, my mother for dragging me there, and finally, my dentist for inspiring me and enabling me to see the beauty of this profession.
Make Your Interviewers Want to Keep Talking About You: Storytelling 101
As you can see, “tell me about yourself” is an open-ended question that can lead to a wide range of possible responses, but your answer must be appealing to win your interviewers over. Just listing facts about you or making vague statements ("I always wanted to be a dentist") will not knock your interviewers’ socks off, as they have heard those kinds of answers a hundred times before. Remember: convincing your future dental school’s representatives that you are the right candidate means showing your personality and telling a story that makes them want to keep talking about you once you leave the interview. Preparing that story in advance and practicing telling it is one of the secrets to success.
1. Brainstorm Your Life
Every good story requires a structure and the right content. So, grab a pen and paper or open a document on your computer and start brainstorming through your life!
Make a list of people, events, experiences, hobbies, interests, places, and books that left an imprint on your life. What are you passionate about? What makes you forget everything else around you? Which life lessons did you learn when and from whom? What personal accomplishments are you most proud of? List everything that comes to mind, and do not stop yourself by thinking it is not related to dentistry!
2. Prioritize: Pick Points That Stand Out
Write everything down without overthinking, analyzing, or judging it. When you are finished, go through the list again and choose two or three points that stand out: your most significant experiences, your happiest memory, or a unique hobby.
3. Structure Your Story
Now that you have selected the content for your "tell me about yourself" answer, let's structure it. Every good story needs a beginning, middle, and end.
Start with the most obvious: your background and your childhood. Briefly talk about where you were born and a little bit about your family. This is also a good place for a childhood memory that influenced your decision to become a dentist.
For the middle part of your story, talk about one or two of your hobbies, passions, or achievements. Even if it requires some out-of-the-box thinking to connect your activities to your wish to become a dentist, you will likely discover many things that you have done that demonstrate the skills, knowledge, and capabilities essential for a dental student. According to the American Dental Education Association (ADEA), a career in dentistry demands good judgment, organizational skills, critical thinking, professionalism, negotiation and networking skills, and superior eye-hand coordination and manual dexterity, as well as an ongoing commitment to education. Single out experiences when you engaged such qualities or learned related skills.
4. Finish Strong!
Finally, wrap up your story with a conclusion. Make your finish strong and memorable. Connect all your story elements by picking up the thread again and explaining why being accepted into dental school would be the next logical and natural step for your career.
5. Short & Simple
Less is more here, especially when it comes to keeping your interviewers interested and engaged. Your answer shouldn't be longer than two or three minutes, maybe four, with enough information to satisfy your interviewers' curiosity and some hooks for follow-up questions.
6. Prepare & Practice!
If you would rather not sound like a robot, resist the urge to memorize your answer. Instead, write down bullet points and practice speaking in front of people you trust. Ask your friends and family members! It might even be worth working with a professional dental school advisor who is specialized in guiding and coaching dental school applicants on their way to being accepted into their school of dreams. Experts who provide dental school admissions consulting services can help you especially with strategies and confidence-building before your interview.
The “tell me about yourself” question in a dental school interview is nothing you need to be afraid of, as you can prepare your answer very well in advance. It is a common question, also asked in medical school, vet school, and nursing school interviews. To win your interviewers over, you need a convincing, personal, and memorable story. It is not enough to just list facts about your life and random reasons for why you want to become a dentist.
When answered fully in an interesting way, the “tell me about yourself” question clears the way for the rest of your interview and brings you a big step closer to your future as a dentist.
1. What is the "tell me about yourself” interview question about?
It’s all about you. The representatives of your potential future dental school want to get to know you better as a person, not just as an applicant. Remember to find a way to tie your background to your dental school aspirations, however.
2. How can I prepare for this question?
Brainstorm your life, pick two or three outstanding events or experiences, and craft them into a story that is captivating and fun to listen to. Practice your answer in front of people before your interview and consider getting professional help to learn how to prepare for your dental school interview.
3. How much time do I have to answer the “tell me about yourself” question during my interview?
Keep it short and simple. About two to three minutes is great. If you are asked this question in a one-on-one interview, you will have about 30 minutes to answer several questions, so respect the interviewers' time and keep to a reasonable time.
4. What should I avoid when answering "tell me about yourself"?
Avoid listing facts and standard answers your interviewers have heard many times before. Instead of telling them, “I always wanted to be a dentist,” tell a story about why this is true and illustrate it with examples. Show your passion for and prove your interest in dentistry.
5. What is a good way to structure my answer to "tell me about yourself"?
Every good story requires a beginning, middle, and end. Choose a few points that stand out in your bio and knit them together into your two- to three-minute answer.
6. When is the best time to start preparing for my dental school interview?
Get into the habit of planning and preparing well in advance! Most schools give only a short notice of one or two weeks, which is not a lot of time to learn interview skills and put convincing answers together. So, the best time to start preparing for your interview is as early as possible.
7. I am afraid of public speaking. What can I do to become more confident?
Practice, practice, practice! Keep in mind that a future dentist needs to be comfortable speaking in front of people. According to the Canadian Dental Association (CDA), being able to interact with people is one of the skills a dentist must have. Communication is key to a good doctor-patient relationship and working with a team. The earlier you become confident answering questions in public, the better. Structured support from experts is the best approach to getting over serious shyness or confidence issues.
8. What else can I do to prepare for my interview for dental school?
A good way to prepare for your dental school interview is to practice with realistic sample questions. If you are applying to a program that requires the multiple mini-interview (MMI), you can study MMI practice interview questions conveniently at home. If you prefer to practice with a professional, consider reaching out to us. We are here to help you with our BeMo dental school interview preparation services.
Like our blog? Write for us! >>
Have a question? Ask our admissions experts below and we'll answer your questions!