application is officially submitted to all the dental schools of your choice. Hooray!
Now it’s time to prepare for your first interview. Soon you will have an opportunity
to speak directly with someone about your qualifications, personal goals and
interests, and “fit” for this particular school. Hopefully you’ve done your
homework and this school meets all of your needs as well.
- Is it located in an area
that you find comfortable?
- Does the school have the
particular programs that you wish to access?
- Does the student population
align well with you culturally—that is, post-undergraduate students, older and
graduate students, married couples, working force students, diverse community,
you’ve reviewed and assessed these details, let’s discuss preparation for this
please inform your health professions advisor about your interview once it’s scheduled.
He or she will have important and perhaps unique insights regarding the school,
the interview day, and the success of previous students from your school, and
overall, he or she will most likely be happy and excited with you. Give your
advisor an opportunity to support and cheer you on.
Mock interviews are essential—they let you
prepare for the kinds of questions you might be asked. Start with your
college’s career services office. They have loads of experience prepping
students for interviews and can give you tips and pointers about habits you may
display when nervous, what your eye contact and hand shake signifies and
whether or not you could use some help answering questions with confidence and
efficiency. While they may not know specific questions you will be asked, they
will know how most interview sessions are conducted. They may also be able to
tape your practice sessions, which is a bonus that will allow you to review
yourself and make appropriate changes if needed.
But, what if you are no longer in school and are currently working? Try your human
resources department. If they have the ability to do so, they might agree to
give you some time for mock interviews with available and qualified staff. If
neither of these suggestions is an option, ask a close friend who already has
experience in the workplace to help, or practice answering questions in front
of your own full-length mirror. You could also reach out to alumni who are
currently attending dental school for their input. Again, your health professions advisor will be a wonderful resource.
that we are in the stage for typical interview questions, there are plenty of
other things that should be considered. It is important to make a good first
impression on EVERYONE you will meet that day. The best way to do this is to be
dressed appropriately. A suit is essential!
For men—navy blue, black, dark grey
or light grey are acceptable colors; however, steer clear of shiny materials or
garments that are too big or small. I have seen students come to an interview
with suits that should be worn on a stage or at a party—trust me, not the look you want! You do not need to spend a large
amount of money, either. Rather, you want to be sure you are comfortable
and can project confidence. Shoes should be freshly polished and heels should
not be run down. Shirts should be suitable for a tie; no turtlenecks or collarless
shirts if you can help it. Recommended shirt colors are white or a pastel. Any
jewelry should be understated as well—a
watch and your school ring will do. “Mr. T” gold chains should remain at home that
For the ladies—you have many more options,
but much of what I have stated above applies to you as well. You can wear a
business-style dress, a suit with skirt or pants or a dress/coat ensemble. Pay
attention to your hemline. Anything that rides above your knee when you sit is
going to be uncomfortable for you and possibly the interviewer. A too-tight
skirt is also to be avoided and your shoes should be professional and
comfortable. Stilettos may not be appropriate nor are sequined shoes or UGGs,
as comfortable as they are. Most likely you will be on your feet walking all
day as the school sends you on tours and to various offices. Being
uncomfortable will make you unhappy, and that unhappy face may be interpreted
incorrectly by an admissions officer.
is recommended for both genders to stay away from heavy perfumes and colognes
(maybe not wear any at all). Imagine a room of 20 people all with different and
conflicting scents—a true nightmare for anyone with allergies.
now that you are dressed appropriately and have fine-tuned your interview
skills through careful preparation, my last piece of important advice involves
your demeanor. Be pleasant and, if you have to, force yourself to be the first,
or one of the first, in the waiting room of strangers to reach out your hand
and introduce yourself. Schools will be looking for leaders, so here’s your
chance to be one!
the end of the day, be sure you collect your interviewer(s) contact information
(or ask at the reception desk if getting this information is appropriate).
Double check that you have the correct spelling of their name(s) and titles.
Afterwards, be sure to send them a thank you note including something unique
that you spoke about during your interview that will help them remember and
identify who you are. Also, sending a thank you to the scheduling coordinator
who made your appointment for you is a plus. Your graciousness and appreciation
of all those involved in providing your interview experience will go a long
luck and enjoy!