The long awaited step that has been the one part of the application process I’ve always felt the least prepared for has officially started: I’ve got one dental school interview behind me!
My first one was at UTHSC – San Antonio this past week. One fun thing about interviews is the opportunity to squeeze a mini vacation out of it. My older sis and baby nephew tagged along for a couple days down to the chips and salsa capital of Texas.
Since this was my first of a few, I was slightly nervous and somewhat over-prepared. I trudged my way through pages of possible questions the week before and recruited Jenna to mock interview me as well as my sis helping the night before. Here’s a sample of some of the common questions I researched and thought up answers (but definitely not too-rehearsed) for:
What are your strengths/weaknesses?
Why our school?
How do you define success?
Tell me about your leadership experience.
Tell be more about ___________ (interesting topic from personal statement/other essays).
Where do you see yourself in 5, 10 years?
What career would you pursue if not dentistry?
I put on my brand spanking new suit and the heels that I was dreading would cause issues (I managed to end the day blister free thankfully), and found my way to the admissions office. I was thankful that me and my roommate were lucky enough to get the same interview date for both of our first. Having someone to make eye contact with during awkward moments or do mutual teeth checks with (remember we’re all talking to teeth-obsessed people so it matters, ok?) after lunch was a welcome gift. Once everyone had arrived in the conference room, I think I counted about twenty students. There was a collective quiet nervousness from everyone, but as the day went on and I got to talk to some of them, they were mostly pretty cool. The thought that some of these people could in fact become my classmates and best friends the next four years was crazy. We started with a presentation by the dean of student affairs about the school, curriculum, special programs, and student life. Next, there was a financial aid presentation discussing FASFA, loans, and the ridiculously intimidating dollar amounts none of us wanted to talk about. For lunch, one of my favorite parts of the day was getting to talk with current students about the school and life as a dental student. The (relevant side note – very attractive) guy that sat near me and I mostly talked to was a D3, super friendly, and eager to answer all my questions. Our interviews started around 1:00, and my student interview was first. Overall, it was extremely laid-back, and we clicked great; we discussed everything from triathlons to dental missions. Here’s some of the questions he really asked me (different from the lengthy list I practiced, but things I actually wanted to talk about).
What do you do to relieve stress?
What kind of books do you like to read?
How do you stay organized?
What will you/your strengths bring to our school?
How do you handle conflict?
Of course then I had a few questions I got to ask him about the school and how he likes living in San Antonio. We could have talked for several more minutes, but he had to take me down the hall to my faculty interviewer.
My professor who interviewed me was an older ex-air-force doc over their AEGD programs in the comprehensive dentistry department (in other words a pretty important guy), and I could just tell by his loud and friendly demeanor that this interview would probably be just as stress-free. Again, I was wondering why I even thought to worry about this whole thing. We talked about playing music, my cooking, his military traveling, and he was especially interested in my religion minor. I went on to tell him about my personal interest in studying the Bible academically and even described a lot of the classes I had taken. Before I even started though, he said he could already tell I was a Christian (he was too) by the first ten minutes of our interview. It was really neat to be able to talk about one of my passions outside of dentistry-specific topics like my experience in Baylor’s religion department. Some other questions included:
How do you handle conflict? (again)
What do you do in your free time?
What kind of books do you read? (again)
How do you plan your day and stay organized/handle busy schedules?
What are your strengths?
Just like my first interview, we could have chatted for the rest of the hour. I felt like I had just met two people over coffee and talked about life. THIS was what I had been anxious about for so many months? He walked me back to the admissions office, and when we parted ways, he shook my hand and basically showered me with affirmation and wishes for my best. I was so thankful to be paired with such a genuine guy who loved his profession, being apart of the UTHSCSA family, and was so positive and encouraging to me in my future as a dentist.
The day ended with tour of the school, during which I actually ran into a friend there for a med school interview – small world! He casually blended in and tagged along to our tour so we could chat for a bit. After the tour we took a quick survey and had to write a short essay (nothing to really fret about – I can knock out a page on just about anything and make it sound convincing). I made sure and get one picture from the day with Audrey before catching the shuttle back to the hotel.
I’ve got the other two Texas interviews this week and next, and I’m only hoping they are also so laid back and enjoyable. It turns out these seemingly scary days that determine our future could actually be…fun? After all, I should be looking forward to them because they are how I’ll get a feel for where I could be spending the next crazy hard but incredibly exciting next four years of my life.