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Health Career FAQ's

Questions about the Interview Process

How are interviews done at the Colorado School of Dentistry?

The University of Colorado Health Sciences Center conducts interview very similarly to other schools around the country. You will be interviewed, one-on-one, by two members of the admissions committee. These are usually 30 minutes each, and can take on any style. Some interviewers will ask many questions about your application. Others will simply come in and talk about what seems to be totally unrelated things. Rest assured they are obtaining very important information about you in either situation. At some schools, you will also be evaluated on your ability to work with groups. To do this, you will be placed in a group of 8-12 other candidate, and asked to come to consensus on a problem you will be presented. You will be evaluated on your ability to contribute, how well you listen, how well you compromise if necessary, etc. You cannot prepare for this aspect of the interview. Don't try.

Are interviews done the same way at all schools?

No. There are several variations. Some schools will interview 8-10 students at once in front of a panel of interviewers. Others will have you write an essay the day of your interview prior to any other aspect of your interview. Some will pair you up with a dental student, and have you attend a class with them. There are several other variations, but they are rare and not worth getting into the details about here.

Do I need to wear a tie and coat (men)?

Yes and/or no. One of the most important aspects of the interview is to present to the dental school admissions committee who you are. If you are the type of person who hasn't worn a coat and tie in 10 years, and suddenly do, you run the very real chance of making yourself so uncomfortable and self conscious that you will not do well on the interview. Does this mean you should wear a t-shirt and blue jeans? No. It means you should be professional. Dress in whatever manner you would to present yourself in a professional manner.

Do I need to wear a dress (women)?

See the above comments on men. Again, the key is to look professional. Dress in whatever way you feel most comfortable. If you are dressed professionally but comfortable, you will do well on the interview.

How should I prepare for an interview?

This is a question that is very difficult to answer, and probably, in reality, doesn't have an answer. But there are several things you could do that would help increase the probability of doing well. First and foremost, know your own application. Make sure you have read through your application the evening before and/or the morning of your interview. Make sure you can discuss the details of your volunteer/work record/experiences. Know what you have said in your personal statement. Be up to date on the health care reform movement in this country. Make sure you have given some thought to how you feel about that with respect to the many social and political issues of the day. Be able to give specific examples of things to demonstrate your knowledge or passion for this procession. Above all, BE YOURSELF. DO NOT try to guess/tell them what you think they want to hear. Experienced interviewers can detect B.S. a mile away. If they think you are trying to tell them what you think they want to hear, you're doomed.

What are some things that I should or should not do the day before and/or day of the interview?

Do not try to "rehearse" answers. Make sure you have read your application. Make sure your car is working and/or you have an alternate plan for getting to the interview in case your primary plan fails. Make sure you have eaten dinner and breakfast. DO NOT GO TO AN INTERVIEW WITH AN EMPTY STOMACH!! Get a good night's sleep. Plan what you want to wear a couple of days in advance. Don't wait until the morning of your interview to start thinking about this. Bottom line? Do as much as you can before the evening prior to your interview, so that you don't have anything to stress you out.

What are some typical questions that I may be asked during my interview?

  • Questions centering on your motivation and the testing of your motivation: When did your interest in dentistry first arise? What other experiences accentuated this interest? Trace why you have wanted to be a dentist from your freshman year in high school to today. Why do you want to be a dentist or other type of health professional?
  • Questions centering on your understanding of dental school or other program: why do you think you will do well in dental school or graduate school? What makes for a good dental student or graduate student?
  • Questions centering on how you view the future, on how you project your past experiences into the future and what your life goals are: What will you be doing ten years from now? What type of dentistry will you practice? Fantasize about yourself as a dentist or other health care provider.
  • Questions centering on prejudice (on their part) and on how you have planned your life: Why did you choose to go to CU at Denver rather than to that other campus in Boulder?
  • Questions centering on the nature of your support groups which have been shown to be essential for success in dental school or other graduate programs: What is your family like? What are your friends like? Do they support your decision? What is your relationship with your family? Do you get along with your mother, wife, etc?
  • Questions centering on your likes and dislikes and how you perform under adverse conditions: What was your biggest adversity? what was the best experience in your life? What was the worse experience in your life?
  • Questions centering on your self evaluation: What are your strong points? What are your weak points?
  • Questions centering on your outside interests and your inquiring mind and how you deal with stress: What are the last two books (non-school) you have read? Did you like them? Why did you like them? What do you do for relaxation?
  • Questions centering on poor performance in the past, or on the breakup of a marriage; have you moved beyond the experiences or do you still carry a guilt about them that might erupt when you are stressed as a medical student: Why did you get divorced? why did you get an F in...? Do you see the ex often? Do you see your child(ren) often?
  • Questions centering on the aspect of dentistry you have chosen: Why not a career in research? If you want to help people why not become a minister or a psychologist?
  • Questions asked of both males and females: How will your child(ren) be taken care of if they are sick? What happens if you (your wife) gets pregnant while you are in dental school? How will you deal with marriage while in dental school?
  • Questions centering on how you react to people and how you have thought about your experiences: During your clinical experiences, what have been the worst and what have been the best patients?
  • Questions centering on how realistic your are: What will you do if you are not accepted? What about next year?
  • Questions centering on current issues: How do you view socialized medicine? How do you view Federal health insurance?
  • Questions about situations (note there are no right answers, but you should answer!). They are looking to see if you are flexible, opinionated, innovative, how you view people, etc.:
  • Questions specific to your discipline.  why your discipline?  why not another? There are probably several tens of dozens more, but this should give you an idea.

If I walk out of my interview feeling really good or bad, is that an indication of how the interview went?

NO!! Do not fall into the trap of assuming that since you felt really good or bad, that an interview went well. Good interviewers do not reveal their feelings openly, or in a way that is easy to predict. Your interview was your interview. Period. Do not read anything into the indirect communication of an interviewer. Now if somebody says something very direct, either positively or negatively, you can usually assume that is something they truly feel. Otherwise, don't drive yourself nuts trying to second guess how things went. If you do the very best you can, that is all you can expect of yourself.

Is there anybody or any place on this campus where I could get help with interview styles or skills?

Yes. Although the number of pre-health students on this campus has made it impossible for me to do mock interviews, the Career Center in the Tivoli Student Union will. They have individuals who will do a mock interview, record that interview, and then go over it with you, and help you evaluate your own performance. They will do this as many times as it reasonable to help you out. Give them a call at 303-556-2250.