“I hate interviews – but you have to do them.” – Jackie Chan
When applying to dental school or any other professional school, many people are just focused on making their application stand out by getting good letters of recommendation, or volunteering at so and so, or getting an insane amount of shadowing hours, and so on.
After they hit the submit button they hope and pray they will get an interview and if they do receive an invitation for an interview they think this means they are already accepted into professional school.
While yes, your application is a very important part of applying, the interview is just as important as completing the application. You can look good on paper, but that does not mean you have the social skills and personality necessary for your profession. The interview is the school’s chance to get to know you on a personal level and learn more about why you chose to go into the profession you are working towards. You can be the most social person in your school and everyone knows your name, but that does not mean you don’t need to prepare for your interview.
You need to have a decent idea of what to expect so here’s some tips and suggestions from the experiences I had at my dental school interviews.
1. Have an answer ready for why you want to go to a certain school and why you chose this profession
This question is almost guaranteed to be asked at your interview and you definitely do not want to stumble on this one. If you can’t tell your interviewer why you want to go to their school then they’re probably going to think their school is just your backup if you don’t get accepted at your first choices.
Even if this is true don’t make it obvious!
Their school could be in the middle of the desert with no running water with buildings looking like they are from an old John Wayne film, and if the interviewer asks you what you think of the school you better say how much you’ve always wanted to ride a camel to class.
The same rule applies when they ask why you chose a certain profession, and typically when asked one of these questions you should prepare at least a minute answer. Definitely do not just give a one or two sentence answer to these questions. Show you have some passion in what you do and where you go.
2. The interview is a lot more informal than what you think it is
Almost all the interviews I had for dental school felt more like a regular conversation than some terrifying experience where they try to stump you with every question they ask. They’re honestly just trying to get to know you and understand you’re nervous when you come in. Sometimes even the interviewer does more of the talking anyway. Honestly, don’t sweat it. Just keep calm and relaxed and it’ll show your confidence.
3. Don’t be afraid of MMI’s!
MMI stands for Multiple Mini Interviews and basically what that means is there are multiple rooms where you review a question for about a minute and go into the room to give your opinion on the situation to the person inside. It could be anything from do you think the government should provide incentives for using fuel efficient vehicles to what would you do if a patient comes into your office and asks you to remove all of her teeth. People get terrified when they figure out their interview is going to be a MMI, but I thought the one I had was a lot of fun actually. They’re usually not as common as a traditional interview, but if you do have an MMI just have some fun with it and stick to your opinion no matter what they say to try and get you to change your mind.
4. Schedule a mock interview before the real thing
Even if you think you’re prepared for your interview there still may be some tips and advice that you never thought of before. If you’re going to a university now try to find your success center and schedule a mock interview. The lady that gave me my mock interview gave me some wonderful advice and even printed off some articles and sample questions for me to review and practice.
5. Your interview starts as soon as you walk into the building
Many people think that the actually interview isn’t until you’re sitting in an interviewer’s office.
The whole staff is in on it even the receptionist at the front desk that shows you where to go. The interviewer may even ask that receptionist what they thought of you when you walked through the door. So be polite to everyone you talk to as soon as you walk through the entrance.
6. Don’t try to stand out with any bizarre clothes
Seriously, I’ve seen some people where some strange things at interviews before. Don’t be that guy that wears an orange tuxedo and top hat like from Dumb and Dumber. Look professional and wear solid colors. Do some research beforehand and find out what kind of attire people recommend wearing at your specific interview. Nothing too flashy and let your personality be what makes you stand out.
Yeah, yeah I know. Of course I had to include this one, but it’s still an important one nonetheless!
You have to show that you are a friendly and welcoming person at your interview. People are attracted to happiness because we do all want to be happy so it is important to give of a positive vibe in the room you’re in. Even if you’re nervous and your heart is pounding like crazy, a simple smile could be the difference between you getting accepted into professional school or not.
So don’t sweat the interview and relax! You’re just having a conversation with someone trying to get to know you better. Who doesn’t like to talk about themselves and their accomplishments?
Good luck and I hope this made you smile!