Shortlisted applicants will be invited by dental schools for interview. There are several types of interview so it is recommended that applicants learn about the different types used.
Types of interview
Panel interviews are conducted by a group of two or more interviewers. These interviewers could be a mixture of clinical and admissions staff, a senior student or a member of the public. Usually they are around 20 to 30 minutes long, though some universities may offer longer interviews, or two interviews over two days.
Panel interviews can follow a structured or semi-structured format. In structured interviews, a specific set of questions are followed, whereas in semi-structured interviews, questions can be influenced by the interviewee’s answers so the process is more conversational.
Multiple mini interviews (MMIs)
Multiple mini interviews are often referred to as MMIs and consist of a variety of different ‘stations’, or small interview scenarios. Each station will assess candidates for specific attributes and will only last for a short period of time. Stations can range from discussing personal statements and experience (like in a regular panel interview) to more practical scenarios that involve candidates interacting with an actor who will be playing a role. MMIs often include more creative stations, such as team work and communication stations.
What do dental schools want to see?
Dental schools will have information available regarding what they are looking for at interview. In general dental schools are looking for an applicant’s:
Ability to communicate
Applicants should be able to express their ideas clearly and coherently and to be able to follow a reasoned argument. Applicants who give spontaneous yet well thought-out answers to questions are more likely to impress the interviewers than those who give obviously rehearsed and ‘coached’ responses.
Dental schools look to see if applicants have the right attitudes to study dentistry and be a dentist. This includes flexibility, integrity and conscientiousness.
Motivation to become a dentist
Dental schools will want to see evidence of the experiences that have influenced an applicant’s decision to study dentistry. They will want to know that an applicant has an understanding of what a career in medicine entails.
Knowledge of what is happening within dentistry
Applicants will not be expected to have a detailed knowledge but have an intelligent layperson’s view on areas of dentistry that are currently within the media or in the spotlight. It is important that applicants demonstrate an awareness of scientific issues. Dental schools will want to see the applicant’s intellectual potential.
Due to the pandemic and the need to physically distance, many dental schools will not be able to hold their normal interview days. Even though the rules around physical distancing are gradually relaxing, there is concern that there may be peaks and local surges in infection rates. It is also anticipated that this might get worse over the winter months.
In response, many dental schools are proactively planning to run their panel interviews or multiple mini interviews (MMIs) online instead. Some medical schools are considering using asynchronous interviews too in which candidates record themselves answering set questions and then submit a video.
How to prepare for online interviews
There are lots of simple things you can do to prepare for online interviews and MMIs:
- Practice talking to people via video call. You can use free platforms like Microsoft Teams, Skype, or Zoom (free for first 40 mins), WhatsApp, and FaceTime – there is no need to pay for a video call service. This will help you learn how to communicate effectively over video call and will also let you test what sort of environment will help you feel the most comfortable during your interview.
- Look at your personal statement and practice talking about what you have written there. Overly practiced responses are NOT what interviewers are looking for, so practice talking about your experiences without writing out a formal response.
Interviews are usually designed to test your suitability and aptitude to study dentistry and become a dentist. Dental schools appreciate that some candidates will be nervous and will, of course, make allowances for this.