Advice from admissions officers

Next Steps After Securing Your Dental School Interview

Posted by Jeffrey L. Turchi, D.D.S. on September 22, 2016

Congratulations, you got the interview for dental school! Now what? If you’ve earned an interview you should feel great. They are hard to come by these days, as the dental school application process has become incredibly competitive the last few cycles. Who says everyone hates the dentist? By participating in workshops with admissions personnel from other institutions and interviewing many potential dental students over several years, I can offer some tips from the perspective of an admissions officer. 

First, plan on arriving early for the interview. If you are traveling from out of town, it is recommended to arrive the night before. Get a good night’s sleep and try to stay in your normal routine as much as possible. Meaning, this is not the time to try new foods, energy bars or energy drinks if they are not part of your typical morning ritual. Make sure your clothes are cleaned, pressed and comfortable. You should look professional. Decide against wearing the skirt that is hard to walk in or the suit that has mysteriously shrunk over the years. Interview day can be a long one and you’ll want to be comfortable, even down to your shoes. I would also suggest packing the phone away for the time being. Friends and relatives can get an update when it is over.

During the process, you will typically come into contact with other interviewees. Be cordial and positive. If there is someone who feels the need to make comments, which can lead you to feeling stressed or intimidated, move on. Spend time with people who are upbeat and positive. Some of the other interviewees may be your future classmates so this is a great time to be friendly and engaging.

Since no none really knows the exact questions that will be asked during the interview, don’t spend too much time programming answers to anticipated questions in your head. Most interviewers are looking for applicants who can think on their feet, communicate and deal with the inevitable stress during an interview. Remember to answer the question you are asked, not the closest question you prepared for. Be ready to discuss subjects related to yourself and the respective school you are visiting. Come prepared with questions about the program and don’t be afraid to ask them. Demonstrate you can communicate effectively.

Don’t forget to smile because it shows that you are excited to be there and interested in the profession. Be your genuine self so the interviewers can tell if this school would be a good fit. Interviewers are pretty good at sensing when applicants are not being authentic.

It is also important to find out ahead of time if the interview is “Open File” or “Closed File.” This you can learn prior to the interview through the admissions office. If it is open file, be prepared to explain any negatives on your application; for example, a bad grade or a misconduct issue. If it is closed, feel free to speak about anything on your application you are particularly proud of, if given the opportunity. 

Finally, I would say the most important thing is to relax. I understand it is difficult, but then again so is dental school. If you cannot handle a little stress during an interview, an interviewer might think you cannot handle the greater stress of dental school. There are two kinds of interviewees—those who expect to do well and those who fear they will not. They are both correct; however, one mindset proves more successful. Good luck! 

About Jeffrey L. Turchi, D.D.S.:

Jeffrey Turchi

Jeffrey L. Turchi, D.D.S.
Assistant Professor, Manager of Admissions and Recruiting, and Continuing Education Coordinator
Western University of Health Science College of Dental Medicine


 Jeffrey L. Turchi, D.D.S., began practicing general dentistry after graduating in 1988 from the Arthur A. Dugoni University of the Pacific School of Dentistry. After practicing for 19 years in Palos Verdes and Mission Viejo, Dr. Turchi served as the Director of Educational and Clinical Affairs and Senior Product Manager for J. Morita USA. He currently serves as an Assistant Professor, Manager of Admissions and Recruiting, and Continuing Education Coordinator at Western University of Health Sciences College of Dental Medicine.


Dr. Turchi has also served as Group Practice Director at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Dentistry. He is a member of the American Dental Association, the California Dental Association and the Orange County Dental Society. Contact Dr. Turchi with questions or for more information.