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Applying for

Dental School

A few tips for the interview day are:

  • Turn up in advance, I remember when I went to interviews I found that many people had actually stayed the night at a hotel so that they didn’t have the stress of getting to the interview in the morning. I personally did not do this however I can see its benefits.
  • I would very highly recommend going with a parent and taking the train if you are going the day of the interview like I did. Trains I have found are more reliable as you won’t be held up in traffic and can plan your journey with reasonable certainty also you don’t know the parking situation at the university. I would also say go with a parent, I’ve gone to interviews with and without a parent and can honestly say that taking someone with you to calm you down and go through a few final points with you before going in is a lifesaver.
  • Look the part, your presentation and the way you hold yourself is very important so make sure to have good body language and posture
  • Try not to talk too fast, often when people are under pressure they tend to spit out what they were going to say very fast. Try to speak calmly and approach questions rationally, mock interviews before the interview would help develop this.
  • Good handshake, it’s important to look confident a good handshake is one way you can show this
  • Try not to twitch, often when people are nervous they tend to twitch either their arms or legs, try to stay calm and keep your legs rested flat on the floor with your hand rested either on the table or on your lap. Try to use your hands when explaining points as it can add emphasis and is good positive imagery for the interviewer however do not go over the top with this swinging them everywhere
  • Remember to smile, often when you smile someone can’t help but smile themselves. This will help lighten the mood and make the interview a much more pleasant experience. 

Tips before attending

Before Attending

1. Before going to an interview it’s a good idea to have gone along to an open day at the university. This will allow you to get a more in depth look at the university, tour the surrounding city and perhaps even have a chat with a few lecturers. This is an invaluable experience and sets you up perfectly for the “Why have you chosen to study at X university” question.


2. Read about current debates that are taking place in dentistry. Examples include the phasing out of amalgam fillings in the UK and the fluoridation of water as the two big topics that interviews will most likely expect you have read about


3. Have a basic idea of a few themes in dentistry- This is where your work experience diary will come in handy perhaps they may ask what you understand about tooth decay or gum disease. There not expecting a in depth answer but perhaps a general understanding that acid which may come from foods containing sugar would decay the enamel of health teeth (Another name for tooth decay is caries) . With gum disease you could say when bacteria enters the gums due to poor brushing technique, they cause inflammation which is what leads to the gums bleeding (Gingivitis if they ask you if you know the name). If you really want to impress them talk about the modified bass technique of brushing, but make sure you’ve done your research. 


4.Try to have mock interviews before attending with either parents, friends or teachers. This will help you talk with clarity on the day.


5. Read over your personal statement again



Standard Dentistry Interview Questions

Remember the five P’s: Prior Preparation Prevents Poor Performance 

Why Dentistry?

The most common asked question, they will expect you have thought about this question and have a solid reason behind why. Try to make it personal rather than generic perhaps relate it to going to the dentist as a child or a work experience that got you interested.  Ensure that the story flows so it’s best to break this question up into: 1) What got you interested 2) What you like about the profession 3) How you further developed this interest 4) Why are you suitable for the course

Why this University?

Another common question, be prepared to answer this. A good strategy would be to have gone to an open day or read the prospectus as this will show you have really taken your time before applying.

Give an example of where you worked as a member or leader of a team

A great example to give here would be a team sport or if you’ve had a job or completed any charity work in the past where you were in a team.

What did you find interesting on your work experience?

This is where the work experience diary is golden, you can talk about the range of treatments that you saw, the way the dentist handled anxious patient etc. Information on what can be seen when going on work experience can be found here.

Important features of a dentist?

Empathetic, Good communication skills, Able to work as a leader. There are many features however being professional and having good manual dexterity is key.

What is your opinion on the phasing out of Amalgam/ Fluoridation of water?

Very common question and very easy to prepare for, for amalgam you could talk about the origins from mercury scares, the pros and cons of amalgam, the Minamata convention on mercury which was an international treaty signed by delegates from 140 countries on 10th October 2013.  

For water fluoridation talk about the benefits of fluoride however balance the argument and mention why some people consider it a breach of their rights to mass medicate the water supply. Look at graphs for areas where water fluoridation has been used and decreasing incidence of tooth decay.

More in depth questions

Its much more difficult to prepare for these as they are made to target your rationale and ethical response to questions. A few rules of thumb:

  • Always put a patients interest first
  • Never judge or refuse treatment based on sex, religion, race, creed or ethnicity
  • You are bound by confidentiality, you cannot tell another family member anything without that patients consent
  • Always maintain proffesionalism


Just remember be yourself and try to rationalise the pro’s and con’s of each dilemma and you’ll be fine. 

The Interview

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