the dental residency interview

by ann


Happy Friday!

I’m in the midst of a packing frenzy but I wanted to pop by and say that I’ve gotten great feedback on my post about the board exams for dental school. I’m so happy that it’s been helpful! Prior to graduating, I managed to cobble together another senior panel with my own class. We had people that were entering GPRs and specialty programs like OMFS as well as those job hunting. It was informative but I’m sure still confusing. I want to place what we talked about that day into posts so that it could provide a future reference.

Today I’m going to touch on when you finally get that invite to the the program. There’s the introductions, the tour of the facilities but everyone is gearing up for the real meat of the visit: the interview. To prepare for any interview is stressful but it is critical to prepare. Below are some questions that are typically asked at interviews as well as questions that you should consider asking.


  • What sets you apart?
  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What have you done in clinic?
  • Where else have you applied?
  • Why would you pick this program?
  • What do you like to do in your spare time?
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten?
  • Why do you think you would be a good fit at this program?
  • What do you think was different between pre-clinic and clinic?

ALSO, prepare yourself for the occasional wacky ones where they just want to chat with you:

  • How would you fit an elephant into a fridge?
  • If you could be an animal, what would you be and why?
  • If you could be a fruit or vegetable, what would be and why?

Note: Be able to expand on anything on your CV. Know your numbers (i.e., GPA, rank, # of procedures done).

Tip: Have good cases to use as clinical examples. Ex: A case that was difficult, either in its treatment plan or patient management, and how you dealt with it. A case that showcases why you want to be in dentistry.


I’ve split the questions into those to ask the interviewer and residents. Many of the questions you ask the interviewer I would also ask the resident since residents would have a more definitive answer on some questions (i.e. How many procedures do you do on average?).

Note: The questions I’ve included are geared for a person entering a general practice residency.

To ask the interviewer:

  • Do you have an assistant?
  • Is there tuition? How much?
  • Is there a salary? How much?
  • Where do most residents live?
  • How many residents are there?
  • Are you allowed to “moonlight”?
  • How many patients do you see a day?
  • Do you have to do your own lab work?
  • How many hours do you work per week?
  • Where are the graduates of the program now?
  • Are you certified for ___? (ex: IV sedation, etc.)
  • How often are you on call after hours for emergencies?
  • Are there outreach opportunities and/or requirements?
  • Do you have lectures? How often? Are they mandatory?
  • Is there a specific dress code? (ex: scrubs vs. business casual)
  • Do I get my own chair or do I share a chair with another dentist?
  • What is the patient mix? (ex: type of insurance, type of cases, etc.)
  • How many sick and vacation days do I get? Can I schedule my vacation days?
  • If I wanted more experience in (specialty), could I gain that experience here?
  • What are the benefits? (ex: educational reimbursement, health insurance, etc.)
  • Do you do rotary endo? Surgical extractions? Implant placement? If so, how much?
  • What have you done in regards to ___? (ex: surgical extractions, implant placement, etc.)
  • Is there continuity of care? Will I be able to follow through on a patient from start to finish?
  • What is the breakdown of what you do procedure-wise in a day (ex: hygiene, operative, prosth, etc)?
  • To what extent do residents manage patients? (ex: will I handle preauthorizations and scheduling?)
  • Are there other specialties at this hospital? If so, will many of the cases be transferred to specialty programs?

To ask a resident:

  • What would you want changed?
  • Do you feel supported in the program?
  • What do you like and dislike in this program?
  • Do background work on the program.
    • Some of the questions above could be answered on the website.
  • Dress in business professional.
  • Bring a portfolio for notes.
    • Also include in it a copy of your CV and business cards.
  • Arrive ON TIME.
    • In order to help with that, scope the location prior to the interview date so you know your traveling logistics.