Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Application Process – Part III, Interviews and December 1st

A lot of debate has gone into exactly what purpose the interview serves. Some schools evaluate their candidates and ‘score’ them based on the interview. However, each and every one of my interviews was non-confrontational. I have no idea how they evaluated me when I was just chatting away with the interviewer about all kinds of things.

Your typical interview will involve an introduction, the actual interview(s), and a tour of the school. Be prepared to spend a few hours at the school (or entire day in some cases). Don’t wear crappy clothes, you need to look nice. Trust me, I am not one to care about fashion, or how the hell people think I look, but this is a time when you need to bite the bullet, get a hair-cut, shave, and all that jazz. Most dental schools are run by conservative, old-school dentists that don’t care for grungy hippies.

I really don’t have advice on how to interview – aside from getting a little practice beforehand and researching the school. Have some questions ready to ask, and make them genuine and interesting. There is no way the website answered any and every question you may have had. Just be a sociable person and don’t let your nerves screw you up. Everyone will be nervous for that first interview, but nobody should let that ruin the day. Try to take control of the interview whenever you are provided with an opportunity. “Tell me about yourself” essentially lets you lead to the interviewer to what you want him to hear. Relax and have a conversation.

Now for the tour, just have questions for the students. They will give you honest and often candid responses about pretty much anything you ask. Figure out what is important to you at the school – match-rates, clinical exposure, research, ect. Ask questions while you are there in the flesh, you won’t get this opportunity again.

Ok so hopefully you had 3 or so interviews prior to December 1st – the official day schools can begin offering admissions. For those of you who interviewed in September/October, this is a horrible wait. Just wrap yourself up in that last year of undergrad, and try not to think about it. If you had multiple interviews, the odds are definitely in your favor.

Don’t worry if you don’t hear immediately, some schools are slow. However, most of them will tell you if you can muster the courage to call them up. The application cycle does not end with December though, most schools interview well into March and even April.

There is plenty more for you to research on your own about the application cycle, I have only briefly touched on the major points. I will eventually post about choosing a school to attend. If you have been a diligent student, and really put a great app. together, you most likely will have choice.

I was quite pleased with the overall success of my application. Hard-work and perseverance pay off. Now that you have jumped through all the hoops, you can kick back and enjoy that final year of care-free undergraduate life. Of course, dental school will present a new series of challenges that I can only begin to imagine.

Good luck to all future applicants. The relief of acceptance is truly a grand experience.