“Why do you want to be a dentist?” is a common dental school interview question that should be easy to answer, if you have prepared. This question gets to the heart of why you are choosing dentistry, and it should be a concise, unique answer that demonstrates your journey and decision to pursue dentistry. Dental schools in Canada and the US are certainly going to present you with this question, so reading these expert-approved samples can help you formulate a clear, succinct answer. 


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“Why Do You Want to Be a Dentist” Sample Answer #1 “Why Do you Want to be a Dentist?”: More Sample Answers How I Answered "Why Do You Want to Be a Doctor?" Conclusion FAQs

“Why Do You Want to Be a Dentist” Sample Answer #1

Stan Brock and Remote Area Medical (RAM), the organization he founded, traveled the United States, from California to West Virginia, setting up full-service medical and dental clinics in stadiums and warehouses to give people free health care. Some people camped out for three days waiting to be seen. There was a news report about RAM and the interviewers interviewed one woman and her children who had severe dental problems.

It only took a few hours of dental work to change this entire family’s lives. Seeing how proud this mom and her kids were after seeing the dentist made me realize how important, and life-changing dentistry can be. Dentists may not always have a chance to save someone’s life, but there is no denying we change people’s lives for the better and that is something I want to do, both in my practice and hopefully, one day, with RAM.

Preparing for your dental school interview? Watch this video:

I started researching what I needed to do to get into dental school, and I read that shadowing a dentist is a good way to see the daily ups and downs of being a dentist. I contacted my own dentist and asked whether I would be able to shadow her. Unfortunately, she declined but was kind enough to refer me to another dentist, Dr. Stephanie James, who was willing to let me shadow her.

Before my first day, Dr. James told me to familiarize myself with HIPPA protocols to protect patient’s privacy and confidentiality. I did, but I was still nervous on my first day. I was worried that I would interfere with Dr. James or that her patients would feel uncomfortable with me being there. Dr. James told me that she would ask every patient if they were willing to let me observe their procedures. If they agreed, I could stay; if not, then I would leave the room.

Fortunately, many of Dr. James patients were amenable to having me observe, and it was an eye-opening experience. I had been inspired by RAM and their work, but after observing Dr. James, I realized that dentistry is also dealing with smaller, more everyday problems. It’s not always changing someone’s life. It can also be demonstrating good oral hygiene or simply filling in a cavity. Shadowing Dr. James tempered my expectations about becoming a dentist and I think it made me appreciate all aspects of being a dentist.

“Why Do you Want to be a Dentist?”: More Sample Answers

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Click here to download TWO more Sample Answers!

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How I Answered "Why Do You Want to Be a Doctor?"

Applying to dental school is no easy task. It starts with taking difficult pre-requisite classes, involving yourself in time consuming extracurricular activities, shadowing dentists at different offices, writing a personal statement, and then studying for the DAT exam. It is a very stressful, overwhelming process. You eventually wonder “Do I really want to do this?” I remember many times during my application process asking myself this question, and the answer always ended in, “Of course!”. So, what do you do? You push through the doubts and continue.

You submit everything, get a brief relief and sense of accomplishment, and then find yourself again with anxiety once you get scheduled interviews. Exciting, but nerve-racking. I remember during my interview, when asked “Why do you want to be a dentist?”, how I nervously blurted out about how one Christmas I had asked for the Play-Doh Drill N' Fill, demonstrating how much exposure I wanted to everything dental from a young age. We laughed and the tension in the room lifted. After that icebreaker, I was able to have a successful dental school interview. Here is how I prepared:

Preparing for the Interview

 First, I asked my mentor what type of questions I would be asked. She gave me a list of questions including:

  1. “Why do you want to be a dentist?”
  2. “What do you do with your hands that help dexterity?”
  3. “How do you handle stress and pressure?”
  4. “What qualities do you think a dentist should possess?”

Depending on different dental schools, interview questions might vary. A lot of the schools include sample questions on their websites. You can also ask students of the specific dental schools you want to apply to what their interview looked like. Remember, these questions can seem basic at first, but the committee is aiming for a much deeper response than what you think.

In my case, the question that truly made me analyze my motivation and passion for dentistry was the first one: “Why Do You Want to be a Dentist?” Preparing adequately for this question is essential to properly direct the tone of your interview. It is important to answer intelligently, honestly, and organized to reflect your true motives for pursuing dentistry to the committee. It also helps to research the dental school’s mission statements to guide you.

There are several reasons why they ask you this question. Not only do they want to visually see and hear about your passion for the profession, but they want to see how you communicate and articulate different topics. In my interviews, I spoke about the magic I felt in my orthodontist’s office which propelled me to be a dentist, comparing it to a little kid in Disney World. I am sure they could see in my eyes and voice the excitement of feeling this way.

 The committee reads your body language and will pick up on how prepared you are depending on the way you answer their questions. Some applicants are great on paper, but if they are not relatable in person, they might decide the student will not be the right fit for them.

Focus on answering the question as honestly as you can, but adding a unique, personal touch will make you stand out. For instance, I elaborated about my mother’s dental-phobia and my urge to have her calmly sit one day in my dental chair. I went on to explain how I did research on treating nervous patients and I could tell that my interviewers supported my empathy for these challenging patients.

Developing Ideas

I drafted some ideas for my answer and then started elaborating on them. My personal statement had a lot of content already but writing an essay and answering in person are two very separate things. I started off with a list of my experiences and influences towards dentistry and went from there. I pondered on my experiences in the dental offices I had shadowed and remembered the things that moved me.

These are some of the key points I included in my answer to the question “Why do you want to be dentist?”: 

Reviewing Answers and Practicing

I chose these points because I wanted them to see me as an empathic, hard-working, interested, fun and evolving dentist. With these topics, I created an ideal image of me and was able to dictate how I portrayed myself. The question is meant to open an umbrella for you to grab what works for you. Once I had them down, I created mock interviews. I sat down with different people and had them ask me “sample interview questions” such as “Why Do You Want to be a Dentist?” and then answered how I practiced. They would provide feedback as to how I was answering and my body language. I even filmed myself to be my own critic. I practiced until I felt comfortable going through all these points with confidence and clarity

Conclusion

Preparing for the dental school interview is 75% of the work. The rest will come naturally if you have the basics down. Having the points clear that you want to speak about will allow you to lead the interview in the direction you want. Then practicing the execution of the topics will lay a successful path to dental school!

Good luck!

FAQs

1. How should I answer “why do you want to be a dentist?”

You should answer as honestly and authentically as possible, without guile or artifice, as you would when writing your dental school application experiences. Your interviewers understand how commonplace and ubiquitous the question is, but what matters to them is what your answer reveals about your personality, communication and social skills, and what is motivating you to become a dentist. 

2. Should I tell my interviewers what they want to hear or answer honestly?

Answer honestly, always. If you prepare something beforehand, a script, for example, that you think will please your interviewers, you are defeating the purpose of the entire exercise. The point of the question is to get you to open up about why you are choosing dentistry, which is one of the few things that distinguishes you from all other applicants. 

3. What should I say to answer “why do you want to be a dentist?”

Use the sample answers above to start asking yourself questions such as, “why do I want to do this?”, “what are my goals?”, “what happened in the past that made me want to choose dentistry?”. Explore your history, and what makes you different from other candidates. If you can learn your own strengths and weaknesses, then you will be able to adequately answer, “why do you want to be a dentist?”  

4. What are some good answers to “why do you want to be a dentist?”

A good answer is one that is well-thought out, authentic and from the heart. You can talk about anything in your past that truly made you want to be a dentist. If you want to be a dentist because you love the sciences, and health care, in general, say that. If you don’t have a profound, moving story behind your desire to become a dentist, then you do not have to make one up, just be honest. 

5. Is there anyone who can help me prepare?

Yes, you can ask fellow students to help you prepare and rehearse, or you can get professional help from dental school admissions consultants or dental school advisors who can give you expert tips and advice on what to say, and how to say it. 

6. What should I avoid talking about?

You should avoid mentioning self-interested reasons for wanting to become a dentist (money, prestige, financial opportunities), as well as reasons that show you have no passion for it, such as wanting to become a dentist because of family affiliation – unless you truly want to follow in your family’s footsteps – and mentioning that you could not enter any other health care profession. 

7. Does it matter what I say in my answer?

It matters, most definitely. Your answer should be a reflection of your true self, and if you reveal yourself to be unprepared, uninterested in the question, and, by extension, the entire admissions process, you’ll only set yourself up for failure. 

8. What if the only reasons I want to be a dentist are to make money, financial gain?

If your real reasons for wanting to be a dentist are the money and financial gain, you should ask yourself if that is really true, or not. Being a dentist carries enormous responsibilities that go beyond money and compensation. If you do become a dentist, your first concern should always be your patients, and if you feel like your desire to accumulate wealth will interfere with that, then you should choose another profession.

To your success,

Your friends at BeMo

BeMo Academic Consulting


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