(Adapted from University of Syracuse, and St. Mary’s College in California Pre-health Websites)
How to Prepare for Your Medical/Dental School Interview
- Research the school
- Conduct a self-assessment. What are you strengths and weaknesses, why do you want to be a physician or dentist?
- Read professional journals and newspapers. Become familiar with current trends in the profession and changes in the health care system.
General Interview Tips
- Be prepared
- Wear appropriate interview attire
- If you do not understand a question, ask them to clarify it
- If you do not know the answer to a question, it is appropriate to say "I do not know"
- Have good eye contact
- Arrive early
- Have a healthy and confident body posture
- Be honest
- Use good manners
- Prepare questions to ask during the interview
- A Typical Interview:
The most common interview is the one-on-one serial interview, in which you go from interviewer to interviewer. Most interviewers ask why the applicant wants to be a physician or dentist, how he or she became interested in medicine or dentistry, what the applicant knows about the profession and what direct exposure he or she has had to the profession. They will also inquire about anything in the application packet that needs to be clarified. Finally, most interviewers allow time for the applicants’ questions.
- Panel Interviews:
Occasionally, you will be faced with the panel or group interview, in which several individuals interview you at the same time. These interviews will generally be conducted using either a question or a scenario format. In the question format, each panel member asks his or her own questions. In the scenario format, candidates discuss scenarios/ situations with the entire panel. In the panel interview, look at the individual who asked the question when you answer. In the case of the scenario, look at all the members while answering since it is a question from the entire group. If an individual member asks you a follow-up question, address only that person when answering. Do not try to determine the most influential people on the panel and direct most of your attention to them.
- Open and Closed-File Interviews:
Most schools supply their interviewers with information from the applicants' admission packet. This way, interview time is not wasted re-hashing information the applicant has already supplied to the school. This is an "open-file" interview.
Some schools do not supply the interviewers with anything other than the applicant's name. They believe the interviewer will have a more objective view of the applicant and will not be influenced by knowledge of the applicant's academic record. These are "closed-file" interviews. If you are faced with this situation, you will need to recite everything you put in your application to many interviewers. In this setting, some interviewers simply abandon the factual information and ask questions designed to demonstrate your personal characteristics.
After Your Interview
Send a thank you note to the interviewers within a few days of your interview. Do not send a generic letter; include information that refers to items that you talked about. You may want to summarize why you are interested in attending that school.
Frequently Asked Questions During A Dental School Interview
Rather than being asked questions about yourself, you may be asked to respond to questions on bioethics with hypothetical situations described and you respond as to how to deal with them. There are no correct answers to these kinds of questions, but you are expected to be able to respond clearly and thoughtfully.
It is recommended that you have some of your own questions for the interviewers.
Questions/Topics Often Discussed/Observed
- Why do you want to become a dentist?
- What kind of dentistry might interest you?
- Why are you applying to this school?
- How would you rate your ability with your hands on a scale of 1-10? Why?
- Why did you take the DAT only once (if so)?
- Have you had any practical experience in dentistry?
- Why dental, rather than medical school?
- What if you had a patient who did not pay?
- What is your opinion of National Health Insurance?
- Why did you choose your undergraduate major?
- What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of your personality?
- How might you calm a nervous patient?
There are chalk-carving, clay modeling and coordination tests at some schools.