It’s never too soon to start thinking about interviews! In fact, I always say that you should start with the end in mind, and in this case, the end is getting an interview and being accepted to your dream school! If you can learn today how to prepare for an interview, it can positively influence how you go about your pre-dental years. So, whether you’re a freshman in college or getting ready to interview next week, there are a few specific things you can do RIGHT NOW to be fully prepared for that big day!
1. Learn What Each Dental School is Looking for in Prospective Students
If you know the values and the mission statement of each school that you hope to interview with, you can be strategic in the way that you answer each question that comes your way. For example, let’s say there's a school that you're interviewing at that is very focused on community service, and they ask you to tell about a time that you had to solve a problem. In this particular situation, you might not talk about a time that you were doing research or a time that you were the club president, but maybe instead you could answer the question by sharing how you solved a problem while you were involved in a service project!
You still want to show that you’re a well-rounded student, but this is your time to show why you’re a good match with the school! So, naturally, you will want to tailor more of your answers to the school’s values. Don’t make anything up. Don’t be disingenuous. Don’t be cheesy. All I’m saying is that you should have multiple answers and experiences ready to share for any question that could be asked and that you should know which answers to use for each school that you apply to!
Be authentic, but know your audience!
2. Practice Answering Common Interview Questions
Doing a role play or having a "mock" interview is a great way to start getting out those pre-interview "jitters," practice looking people in the eyes, and of course, answering the interview questions!
Most pre-health advisors are ready and willing to do mock interviews, especially if you have a pre-dental advisor. You can also find opportunities to do a mock interview at SIM courses that are hosted by dental schools for pre-dental students. Other than that, don’t hesitate to find a friend or family member who is willing to read through a list of example questions and let you practice answering them.
No matter how you choose to practice, NOW is your chance to sit down and really think about the answers to these questions. Not everything has to be a surprise in the interview. Admissions committees ask very similar questions year after year, and even though some of them will be different, in the end, they're just trying to learn some basic things about who you are. So, don’t get too hung up on "knowing the right answer."
3. Record Your Extracurricular Experiences in a Journal
Journaling as a pre-dental student is NOT the same as writing in a diary. Journaling is your opportunity to BRIEFLY record what you learn and accomplish as you are shadowing, doing research, volunteering, etc.!
Once you know you've been accepted for an interview, you should review your journal so that you have a wide variety of specific examples of what you’ve done, learned, and felt. Of course, you can share anything else that is in your brain and not written down, but you’ll need to have the details of these brief stories fresh in your mind so that you're ready to answer any questions that will come up. This will allow you to be more unique and, even more importantly, it will allow you to be more specific in your answers, which will make you a more memorable interviewee. Does that make sense? We want to tell stories about people and not just answer the question. I believe that if you have multiple stories ready for any anticipated question, you'll be more confident and prepared for your interview.
I truly believe if you do these three things, you can dramatically increase your confidence in yourself as you begin interviewing. It worked for me, and it will work for you! You will have done so much to get to that point of receiving an interview, don’t fall short by failing to prepare! Take control of your future and do all you can to give yourself the greatest chance of being accepted to your dream school!
GOOD LUCK PRE-DENTS!!!
P.S. Book a FREE intro call with Logan R. to learn how you can receive personalized guidance to nail your interview and dental school application!
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