Here are a few examples of the kind of answers that interviewers are looking for from prospective dental students. We will be covering these and many more in our Interview Preparation Days:
1) Tell us why you’d like to study dentistry
I had previously prepared for this answer and I think it is important to do so. Don’t rehearse your answer but try to split it into a particular format or structure so that you don’t sound too stilted. The format I used was to split the answer into three, with examples in each. I identified three features which I thought were important-
I like to work with people- I have experience working with people of all ages through my extra-curricular activities and my work experience and I enjoy this thoroughly. I have been school prefect which means communicating with my peers and the senior staff in the school. I’ve also worked as a careworker in an old people’s home and I was teamleader of an afterschool children playgroup for children ages 4-6.
I enjoy science- I am by nature a perfectionist and I have worked hard to achieve my GCSE and AS grades. I understand that dentistry involves a great deal of scientific theory, covering not just the mouth but the human body as a whole. The course also involves current research and development in the field of dentistry, particularly in the first two years, and I am looking forward to the academic challenge.
I have good manual dexterity- I have always enjoyed activities which have tested and improved by manual dexterity. I have played piano for 7 years, I enjoy graphite pencil drawing and I recently set up an art’s class at school focusing on sculpture.
2) What makes a good dentist?
This question tests whether you understand what the job involves, and that you are prepared to work on the skills which will make you a better dentist. Again I chose two areas which I thought were key:
- Communication skills- I have witnessed several dentists at work during my work experience both in the hospital and the community. The common factor was the dentists ability to communicate with patients of all ages to make them feel at ease. Children and adults alike can be quite intimidated by dentists and so using the right language and body language is key to set them at ease. Secondly, dentists are in a privileged position in that they frequently get access to very private information, and their practical work involves getting physically close to patients. This can only be done if the dentists communicates clearly and inspires trust.
- Good teamwork- Dentists do not work in isolation, as I have seen on many occasions. In clinical practice they require teamwork to ensure the consultation runs smoothly with their nursing staff. Outside the clinic they must be able to run their practice effectively, involving clinical and non-clinical staff, and making them feel part of a team.
- In addition to this I would expect a dentist to act professionally, with integrity and to ensure that they stay up-to-date with contemporary dental science and treatments.
3) Tell me about an area of dentistry that you’ve read about that you find interesting
- I had spent plenty of time reading up on current news stories and familiarising myself with the course. I think this question was just to see whether I had bothered to read outside by subject, so make sure you do this!
- I have been reading about the oral manifestations of diseases of all kinds, and how dentists can be integral to the diagnosis and management of conditions which doctors usually treat.
- One example I came across is the increased risk of heart conditions such as infective endocarditis with oral infections. I found this connection bizarre and fascinating. I also read up on the current NICE guidelines to familiarise myself with the current antibiotic guidelines which dentists must follow in order to avoid cardiac infections like this, in that only high risk patients with pre-existing heart disease should receive prophylactic antibiotics.
It is important to answer questions in a structured and logical fashion so make example answers using bullet points to prepare yourself before the interview. For more advanced help with interview responses join us on one of our Interview Preparation Days!