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Dental Residency Interview Questions

30 Dental Residency Interview Questions and Answer Examples to Help You Prepare for Your Residency Interviews.

Dental Residency was written by on February 8th, 2022. Learn more here.

Question 1 of 30

We would like to get to know you on a more personal level. Outside of dentistry, what are your interests?

Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

While this isn't a make-or-break question, your interviewer asks about your hobbies and interests for a couple of reasons. First, having hobbies and interests outside of work or school is an important part of maintaining a healthy work/life balance during residency. Second, learning about your interests will help them prepare for how you will mesh with the staff and other trainees in the program.

Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

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30 Dental Residency Interview Questions & Answers

  • 1. We would like to get to know you on a more personal level. Outside of dentistry, what are your interests?

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      While this isn't a make-or-break question, your interviewer asks about your hobbies and interests for a couple of reasons. First, having hobbies and interests outside of work or school is an important part of maintaining a healthy work/life balance during residency. Second, learning about your interests will help them prepare for how you will mesh with the staff and other trainees in the program.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      Talk openly and honestly with your interviewers about the activities that interest you outside of the dental field. This is an open-ended question that you can take in many different directions, but some possible answers can include physical activities that keep you in great shape and activities and interests that stimulate your mind in new ways.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      1st Answer Example

      "I have a variety of hobbies that have honestly kept me sane during dental school, and I know they'll help as I venture into residency. I am an avid golfer and have been since I was 11 years old. I also am a big fan of non-fiction history books, mostly surrounding World War 2."

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

  • 2. Let's say you are caring for a patient who is in desperate need of flossing on a regular basis, and they tell you that they already know how. How would you proceed?

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      Many dental patients do not understand some of the basics of proper oral care. Your interviewers ask this question to determine if you would make sure the patient understands how to floss rather than simply taking the patient's word for it. Simply put, this scenario gives your interviewers the chance to see just how much you prioritize patient education.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      Describe in detail how you would verify that the patient understands how to use floss properly and regularly. Talk about the importance of ensuring that every patient you work with is educated on their condition and the treatment you give them moving forward.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      1st Answer Example

      "Even if the patient was adamant that they knew how to floss, I would ask them to demonstrate for me so I could verify. I would make sure the patient uses about 18" of floss and guides the floss gently between each pair of teeth. I would also demonstrate at the same time and point out any incorrect technique. I will make sure my patients understand the oral hygiene tactics I recommend for them, and I will have them demonstrate it or repeat it to ensure they understand. If necessary, I would make sure that I include the parents, children, or other caregivers of the patient in my education."

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

  • 3. How would you handle a member of the care team who clearly wasn't pulling their weight on the team?

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      In your dental residency, you will work with a diverse team of individuals as part of the larger care team. This could include faculty dentists, fellow residents, receptionists, dental assistants, and hygienists. Because the dentist is responsible for the overall care of the patient, your interviewers will expect you to be willing and ready to take charge and be responsible for the patient care work of all staff who come in contact with your patients.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      Consider what is best for the patient in the end. If the team member's lack of care puts a patient at risk, talk about how you would have an immediate conversation with the employee. If the person was having an off day, talk about how your ability to build a good rapport with your entire care team would enable you to have a professional, caring, and frank conversation with any member of your care team in this situation.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      1st Answer Example

      "I pride myself on my ability to build respect and trust with all staff that I work with. This includes everyone on the team, from the receptionists to the hygienists. This trust and respect enable me to have a clear and respectful conversation with any staff member that isn't pulling their weight. I would end my conversation on a positive note by telling them that I believe in them. If the situation put the health of a patient at risk, I wouldn't hesitate to escalate it to the manager or supervisor of that staff member."

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

  • 4. Have you ever worked with an angry or upset patient? How did you successfully manage that situation?

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      During your dental residency, you will be the direct oral caregiver for patients more often than before. The interviewers want to know that you can professionally handle stressful or uncomfortable situations with angry or upset patients or family members.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      Briefly describe a time you had to work with a patient who was upset or angry during your dental school training. Highlight your ability to remain patient and rational in the face of conflict. Focus on the positive action you took and the resolution you came to with the patient rather than details of the conflict itself.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

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  • 5. How will you adapt to the major changes you will experience transitioning from dental school to our dental residency program?

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      The dental industry is experiencing more rapid changes today than it has over the past 100 years, and your ability to handle and adapt to change will be vital as a dental resident. Transitioning from an academically-based dental school to a practice-based residency will also be a major change. Your interviewers want to know that you can embrace change and see it as an opportunity for overall improvement.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      Convey to your interviewers that you are confident in your ability to join a new environment and succeed from the first day. Talk about a time you had to adjust quickly to change in the past. Pick an example of a time you faced a change, either in your schooling or the workplace, and your response was constructive. Explain how the change directly impacted you and tell the interviewers how you maintained a positive approach during the transition. Explain that you fully understand that your future success as a dentist will be reliant on your ability to change with the times to provide the best care possible to your patients.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

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  • 6. How do you best learn something new within a short time and retain it for future use?

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      During your dental residency training, you will learn, develop, and master countless new skills. In asking this question, your interviewers want assurance that you can learn new skills under pressure and put them to use quickly in the direct care of patients as part of their program.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      Show your interviewers that you are willing to put in the time and effort to learn every new skill possible. Come to your interview prepared to talk about how you best learn and retain new knowledge and how you will translate classroom learning into patient care as a resident. Talk about times you did this successfully during dental school.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

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  • 7. How will you successfully interact with some of the demanding faculty and ancillary staff in our program as a dental resident?

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      You may need to work with difficult to please dentists and other staff in your residency program. Your interviewers want to see that you can interact professionally and constructively with others, even if they have a challenging personality or work style.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      The goal of your response is to show the interviewers that you work well with a range of individuals. Your answer should assure the decision-makers that your communication style will be an excellent addition to their team of dental residents. Don't hesitate to give an example of a time you had to work with a challenging person during dental school. If you give a direct example, be sure to outline the situation, describe why it was vital that you communicated successfully with this person, and explain the actions you took to build a healthy relationship with the individual. Explain to your interviewers that you are aware that some of the staff you will work with will have high expectations of you and that you are ready to meet those expectations head-on.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

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  • 8. How would you rate your ability to work with new equipment and technology? How do you ensure proficiency as quickly as possible?

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      After spending the last four years in a dental school program focusing on academics, technology in the dentistry field has evolved and will continue to evolve. While you may be academically gifted, your interviewers need to know you can pick up and master any new technologies in the field. During your dental residency, you will likely work with many pieces of equipment you haven't had the opportunity to in the past.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      Think of a time you had to learn new technology. Be sure your example proves your ability to study, learn, and master the technology in short order. Explain to your interviewing team that you know you will be learning new dental equipment during your residency program and are willing and ready to learn any new technologies thrown your way during your time with them.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

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  • 9. Have you ever had a situation where you felt you could have communicated better?

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      Patient-centered communication is vital for the residents of any dental program, and your interviewers want to hear about your communication skills. They want to know that you are aware of your communication shortcomings and will address them during your time as a resident in their program.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      Before your interview, think of a time you feel you could have communicated better. Make sure the situation you describe shows you learned a lesson and took action to make the situation right. No matter how you answer, make sure that your interviewers walk away from your time together knowing that you are cognizant of the fact that your communications are important as a dental resident and that you will take every conversation at their institution seriously.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

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  • 10. Have you applied to any other dental residency programs?

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      The application and match process for a dental residency program is a transparent process in which all parties know how the system works. The intent of this question is to hear where you rank their program on your list of desirable training programs, especially if they find you to be one of their top candidates.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      Be honest and upfront with your interviewers about the other programs that you applied to and interviewed with. Don't hesitate to let your interviewers know that their program sits near the top of your wish list and talk about why from a personal and professional level.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

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  • 11. What clinical or knowledge-based strengths would you bring to our dental residency program?

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      Being asked about personal strengths is common in any business or industry. For a graduating dental student looking to join a residency program, this question is a bit more pointed and intentional. In proposing this question to you, your interviewers want to hear what you feel is your top clinical or dental knowledge-based strength that makes you the best candidate to match into their training program.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      Before your interviews with dental residency programs, be sure to put some serious thought into the personal strengths that make you an excellent fit for the dental residency program you are interviewing with. As you think about your strengths, focus on the dental-specific skills you possess that prove your ability to thrive and learn in the dental specialty in which you hope to train. Feel free to talk about any interpersonal skills, as long as you can prove why that skill makes you a great candidate.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

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  • 12. While attending dental school, what was your your favorite course?

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      Learning more about your favorite courses, personal preferences, and professional areas of interest will allow your interviewers to better understand where your passion is within the field of dentistry. More so, they'll want to hear that this course had a direct influence on your reason for pursuing an additional residency in their program.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      Perhaps you had a great professor in a particular course or excelled in a certain area during your time in dental school. Briefly discuss what your favorite course was, and be sure to explain the reason.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

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  • 13. A dental residency like ours can be incredibly stressful and demanding. How do you manage high amounts of stress?

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      Many studies have been conducted in recent years that prove dental residency training has a high level of stress and burnout. The long hours and learning materials packed into a short period can take their toll, and your interviewers want to know that you would have the tools in place to work through the heavy workload.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      Talk to the interviewers about your ability to manage pressure while remaining professional. The best way to do this is by thoroughly discussing the tactics you used to manage the day-to-day stress in dental school. Describing the tactics you used and providing proof that they worked throughout your dental school will assure your interviewers that you will come to their program ready to succeed.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

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  • 14. If becoming a dentist was not an option for you, what career path would you choose?

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      Your interviewers will use questions like this to get to know you beyond what they've seen on paper. They already know the skills and knowledge you will bring to the table. Understanding your personality and interests will allow them to select the right students to bring into their program.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      This hypothetical question will give the interviewers insight into other topics that interest you. There is no right or wrong answer here, so be sure to speak from the heart. As long as you can answer the question with some passion about that field, your interviewers will take note.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

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  • 15. Who would you say has been your biggest inspiration, and how will their influence help you through dental residency in our program?

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      This question is designed to ensure that you will come to this program as a motivated individual who is inspired to succeed. In proposing this question, your interviewers will be looking to hear why a particular inspiration has had an impact on your life and career.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      Your life's inspiration can be a mentor, your family, a friend, a celebrity, or an author. Talk to the interviewers about who has been the biggest inspiration in your life and why you would call them your biggest inspiration.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

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  • 16. What do you feel is the most concerning topic facing the dental industry today?

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      As you look to leap from dental school into an esteemed dental residency program, your interviewers will want the best of the best for their advanced training program. A question like this allows your interviewers some insight into your passion for the dental industry.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      Being an aspiring dental resident means that you need to take a keen interest in current events by closely following the challenges the dental industry faces. Before your interview, put some serious thought into a question like this so you can come to your interview prepared to speak confidently on the topic. Discuss why you feel this is a primary concerning issue, and be sure to ask the interviewers what they see as the most concerning issue in the dental field today. This is an opportunity to start a very insightful conversation, so take advantage of it.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

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  • 17. If you are selected for our dental residency, what would you wish to accomplish during your time with us?

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      Like many others before you, you could have gone directly into practice following dental school. But you didn't, and you are pursuing an advanced residency for a reason. Your interviewers would like to better understand your expectations of their residency program and what you hope to gain from their training.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      Your answer will help the interview panel to better determine if you are a fit for their residency program, so you should put serious thought into your reason this training program is ideal for you. Describe what you want to learn and accomplish during your residency training, and take accountability for your growth as well.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

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  • 18. What drives your passion for a career in dentistry?

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      Your interviewers will be tasked with the difficult decision of determining who to select for their residency program. The interview panel would like to understand what drives you in your pursuit of a career in dentistry. Your core passion is what will keep you going on the toughest of days during residency.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      It is okay to share a personal story when answering this question. Discuss what initiated your interest in attending dental school. Whatever drives you, make sure the interviewers can feel your passion!

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

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  • 19. As a potential resident with our program, are you aware of the different types of dental malpractice that can impact our field?

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      Every medical sector has difficulties, and accusations of malpractice are one difficulty in the dentistry field. Dentists, orthodontists, periodontists, and oral surgeons can all be subjected to malpractice claims, and your interviewers need to be assured that you are aware of the different forms of dental malpractice the practice could face.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      Discuss malpractice cases involving failure to diagnose, improper diagnosis, lack of informed consent, medication errors, and injury during a procedure. If you were educated on these during dental school, you should know how these could impact your future practice. If you need to, you can also research the types of negligence that need to be proven in a dental malpractice claim.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

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  • 20. What was your DAT score prior to entering dental school? Were you happy with it?

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      Before dental school, you had to take and pass the Dental Admission Test. Because the test measures aptitude in biology, general chemistry, and organic chemistry, dental schools use it as a good measure for success in their program, and your interviewers for this residency simply want to hear your score and if you were happy with it.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      Answer this straightforward question quickly and succinctly. Be open and honest about your score and talk about whether or not you were happy with the result. If possible, give a brief reason why you were or weren't happy with that score.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

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  • 21. What are your ultimate career goals in dentistry?

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      Your interviewers want to hear two things about you. First, they want to know about your plans and if you have intentions of joining an existing practice or starting your own. They also want to know what your ideal practice looks like and that you've put some thought into this before applying to dental residency programs.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      Before your dental residency interviews, put some thought into your future career plans. Keep in mind that there is no right or wrong answer to a question like this. Your interviewers will simply want to hear that you have put some thought into this, so be open and honest about your career goals in the field.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

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  • 22. When you experience a setback in your work, how does it emotionally affect you?

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      Everyone handles the stress and disappointment of setbacks in their work different differently. In the dentistry field, those setbacks can be amplified. Your interviewers want to know that you would join their training program with the right mindset, even when things don't go as planned.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      Your main objective as you answer this question is to discuss how you typically cope with setbacks healthily. Your interviewers want to hear that you focus on the task at hand to make a situation right rather than letting your negative emotions take over. Give an example of a time you suffered a setback in your work and show how you kept a positive attitude in your efforts to make the situation better.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

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  • 23. How will you respond to feedback and constructive criticism on your work as dental resident in our program?

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      By joining a dental residency program, you will be venturing into a program with top-of-the-line faculty whose main mission is to ensure that you are fully trained, educated and ready to hit the ground running post-residency. At times, the faculty of the program you are interviewing with will be critical of your work, and your interviewing team wants to know how you would handle this critique.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      Not all feedback will be delivered in a friendly, easy-to-absorb manner during your time as a dental resident. Don't hesitate to talk about a time when you received feedback or criticism that was hurtful or surprising. Discuss how you reacted productively. Explain to the interviewers that you were able to take the criticism and learn from it.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

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  • 24. Do you like to keep up on news, discoveries, and events in the dentistry world? If so, how do you do that?

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      Dentistry has evolved so much over time, and any practicing dentist needs to be open to learning new methods and ways of treating their patients. This is especially true in recent years as technology continues to advance in the field. Your interviewers ask this question to see if you have an interest in continually learning your craft as a dentist.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      In your answer, mention any dental journals or publications you like to read. If you have any subscriptions, be sure to let your interviewing team know. You should also talk about the importance of any dental societies or organizations you are involved in and talk about how they have helped you learn over the last few years as a dental student. You can also talk about any social media you have found in the world of dentistry.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

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  • 25. What is the one achievement the you are most proud of on your path to dental residency?

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      Working your way through an undergraduate program and a grueling dental school has its ups and downs. For those about to enter additional training as dental residents, the dedication and commitment need to remain the same. Your interviewers want to know that you would come to their program with a sense of pride and accomplishment in your work.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      Before your dental residency interviews, take some time to reflect upon your educational path and your achievements during that time. Perhaps you maintained an exceptional GPA or excelled in school while working a part-time job. Maybe you finished at the top of your class and received a special award for your achievements. Share any accolades you received along the way with your interviewer. If your achievement example comes from your personal life, don't hesitate to discuss that, as long as it proves your ability to be an outstanding resident with this program.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

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  • 26. Tell us something that we would not know about you from reading your application materials and references.

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      Throughout your application and interview process with any dental residency program, the interviewing team will be able to get a good feel for your clinical skills by asking you specific questions about your knowledge and speaking with your references. This question gives your interviewers some insight into who you are personally.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      While there are many ways you can answer this question, be sure to highlight something unique or special that will be memorable for your interviewing team and give them insight into who you are as a person. You are not obligated to discuss personal matters like your relationship status.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

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  • 27. What do you feel is an area of weakness that you would like to improve on during your time here?

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      Being a true professional in dentistry takes a great sense of self-reflection and self-knowledge. Your interviewers want to hear that you can identify your biggest weakness and have a plan to improve upon it.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      Pick a weakness that is not a core skill for your success as a future resident. Be candid in your answer, acknowledging your need to improve. Be sure to have an action plan in place for improving this weakness. However you answer, don't be afraid to be frank with your interviewing team to show your honesty.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

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  • 28. What do you know about our dental residency program?

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      Your interviewers will likely see an excellent pool of candidates for their residency program, so a question like this is an opportunity for you to stand out. If you are lucky enough to land an interview, be sure to research the school. You don't need to be an expert on their entire history, but your interviewers want to hear that you are knowledgeable about their program, culture, and recent accolades.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      Before your interview, the best thing you can do is research the school and the program through their website. There, you may find news articles, program events, or contributions the program has made to its community. If possible, identify the mission and values of the school so that you can speak confidently on what their program stands for and what sets them apart from other similar training programs.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

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  • 29. What do you feel is the single most important quality a dental resident should possess?

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      Your interviewers will want to hear candidates talk about their knowledge of success in dental residency training and putting success into practice eventually. Your answer to this question indicates that you are aware of what this role entails. Your interviewers will also likely assume that you possess the quality that you choose.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      This is an opportunity to give a unique answer and sell yourself to your interviewers, so dig deeper than "strong attention to detail" or "strong communication skills." Some potential ideas could include an unrelenting drive to succeed, a strong sense of accountability, a high amount of respect/integrity, or confidence in your ability to succeed. Speak with confidence and passion as you sell yourself in your answer to this question.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

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  • 30. We will be talking with several great applicants about joining our residency program. Why should we choose you over another prospective dental resident with the same qualifications?

      Why the Interviewer Asks This Question

      Each year, this interviewing team considers the best and brightest dental students to pursue further training with their institution. Each of these talented candidates likely has stellar grades and the drive and potential to become a practicing dentist. Your interviewers want to hear your best sales pitch on why you are the best candidate to join their dental residency.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

      How to Answer

      Before your interview, put some serious thought into what makes you a unique candidate for this dental residency program. Recent volunteer work, a personal connection to the training program, a personal story of winning in the face of defeat, an additional advanced degree, or proof that you are willing to go above and beyond to further your education and future career as a dentist can all present you as a standout candidate. No matter how you answer this question, be sure to speak with passion and desire.

      Written by Ryan Brunner on February 8th, 2022

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