Step 2: Preparing
The interview process affords the admissions committees a chance to get to know the "real person" behind the academic record and determine whether that person possesses the necessary personal qualities and skills required of a future dentist. Some of these qualities include:
- Good judgment
- Critical thinking
- Communication and interpersonal skills
- Health promotion
You should be comfortable talking about yourself and using specific examples to show the interviewer who you are. Honesty and sincerity are the keys to success. Begin your interview preparation with self-reflection. Identify the key attributes and experiences that will enable you to achieve success in dental school, and that demonstrate your suitability for the profession. Think about specific examples you can use to support what you're saying without providing a laundry list of your achievements. Look for questions that provide opportunities to incorporate your points into your answers so that you maintain control over the message you are sending to the interviewer.
Telling a story goes a long way. Explain your character strengths and weaknesses via stories/experiences. It’s always better to bring up examples as opposed to just saying: “I am really hardworking, etc.” Also, stories allow the interviewer to relate to you and ask follow up questions and this makes the interview much more fluid.
Types of Interviews
Planning what you will say during the interview will depend in large part on the specifics of the interview itself. In general, there are four types of interview you’re likely to encounter:
- Open - The interviewer has already reviewed and is familiar with your entire application (most common).
- Semi-open - The interviewer has read and is familiar with your personal statement and perhaps your secondary essays but nothing else.
- Closed - The interviewer has not read any part of and is not familiar with your application.
- Combination of the above - (e.g. one 30-minute closed and one 30-minute open)
- Multiple Mini Interview (MMI) - The duration of the interview is typically 2 hours long and consists of a series of 10-minute "mini" interviews. For each mini interview, you will be given approximately 2 minutes to prepare an answer to a question/scenario before participating in the 8-minute scenario with an interviewer/assessor. The interviewers will evaluate your thought process and ability to think on your feet.
One of your interviewer’s primary responsibilities following the interview is to act as your advocate with the admission committee. If you are granted a semi-open or closed interview, it is up to you to bring to your interviewer’s attention anything concerning your application that you believe requires further discussion. That way, the interviewer will best be able to address questions posed by the admissions committee about your application.
Review Your Application
Look at your entire ADEA AADSAS and secondary application objectively. You should be very familiar with everything you included and be prepared to talk about it at length. As you study your application, ask yourself questions like:
- What impressions or pre-conceptions would you have about the person being described?
- Why did you choose to include the clinical, community service, and research activities that you did?
- Do you see any areas of potential weakness?
- Are there any red flags that need explaining?
When reviewing your application, pay particular attention to your essay as many interviews use it as a source of questions. Try to look at it objectively and try to imagine what additional information you would like to know about the writer. Be ready to discuss in depth anything you’ve written about in the personal statement. If your interview answers and personal statement don’t back each other up, then you may come across as insincere or even dishonest.
Tips from former Hamilton applicant: “Before my first interview, I printed out my entire self-reflection that I wrote for my interview for Committee Letter with Leslie Bell and my entire AADSAS application. Both the night before each interview and the morning of each interview, I read through both documents. This helped me feel really comfortable with who I was as an applicant and what I had written on my application. It is very important to be fluent with your entire application. I also typed up a “Quick Facts” sheet about myself that I printed out and kept in the notebook that I brought to each interview. This was really helpful because there is a lot of information provided over the 4-6 hour interview day, and often the actual personal interview is the last component of the day, making the morning preparation really far away. Even if I didn’t look at the document before my actual interview, I at least had it as an option to glance at throughout the day if I needed to minimize stress.”
Research the School
Look at things like first year class statistics, the curriculum and its structure, timing of clinical opportunities, extracurricular activities, school news, student life, financial aid, housing, current projects, and future plans.
Former applicant tip: “The day/night before each interview I thoroughly researched the school that I would be visiting the next day and took a lot of notes. This helped me to feel as though I had a good grasp on the program and also often made me more excited about the interview. Based on the information that I gathered through the note taking process, I came up with a list of questions for my interviewer(s) as well as a list of questions for any current students that were present for the interview day (usually during the lunch).