Going on dental school interviews is such a unique experience as students travel all over the country to learn more about programs they could potentially attend for the next three or four years. But, it can also be a daunting process, especially for the first few interviews! There are so many things to worry about, such as what to wear, what questions to ask, and how to prepare for hard questions. So, I’ve outlined a few tips for before, during, and after the interview to help alleviate any stresses and worries leading up to a big interview.
You got the interview invite, so what’s next? I usually started by listing out common interview questions along with bullet points of potential answers and personal experiences to back up those answers. This way, I won’t blank out when asked these questions and I can recall those specific experiences that can connect somehow with an answer. I always found it easier and less nerve-racking when you are telling a story or telling people about yourselves versus coming up with a perfect answer for a question. This way, interviewers get to know more about your personality and personal experiences, making you more memorable. You just have to find a way to connect your experiences to the answer to the question!
But, all of this means nothing when the answers are still in your head. Be sure to practice out loud your responses to interview questions, especially in front of someone else that you trust and who can be honest with you. The delivery of these answers is so important, maybe even more important than the answers themselves. You want to come off as friendly and personable and when in high-stress situations like during interviews, it is important to practice on your delivery.
During the Interview
Be yourself and be friendly! Interviewers want to be able to imagine you in their program and it’s important to put your best foot forward. Interview day can be stressful at times but you’ve done the prep work, now you just have to let your personality shine through. Smile, have fun, and be sure to convey passion in your answers. Also, during the interview, it is also important to ask questions about the program to current dental students as this will send the message that you are interested in learning more about the program. At the end of interview day, make sure to take notes on the questions that you got since this will be helpful for future interviews, and to take notes on specific interviewers. These notes will be helpful when you are writing thank you emails or letters to your interviewers, as it is nice to make them personal and not generic.
After the Interview
Send a thank-you email or letter right away when you are fresh in your interviewers’ minds to thank them for their time and to let them know what you liked the most about the program. Interviewers really take the time to go over every application and to interview prospective students, so they really appreciate thank you notes! Also, go over the questions that were asked and your answers and see how you can improve your answer to a specific question in the future, and reflect on any changes that you can make for future interviews. Dental schools tend to ask the same things so this is good practice to perfect your answers to the commonly asked questions.
Interview day is an exciting time but also can be a little scary, but with proper preparation and practice, each interview gets easier and easier, and by the end, you’ll be a pro in no time! I encourage you to try these tips as these steps really helped me in being more comfortable interviewing and allowed me to enjoy the process a lot more!