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Types of Interviews

Know What Type of Interview to Expect

It will be helpful to be ready for any number of different interview formats. At some schools, interviews are held with individual admission committee members; at others, group interviews are the norm. In addition, while most interviews are typically held on the dental school campus, some schools have designated interviewers in different geographic regions to minimize time and expense for applicants. (Information about a school’s interview policies and procedures is usually provided to applicants in the initial stages of the selection process.)

One-on-One

The most common interview (and the one most applicants are familiar with) are those that involve meeting one-on-one with a member of the admissions committee. You may interview with a current dental student, faculty member, or even a member of the community. Typically, one-on-one interviews can last from 30-60 minutes, however, the amount of time you spend with an interviewer should not be used as a measure of success.

One-on-one interviews can be either open or closed, with most dental schools utilizing a combination of both. Open interviews are those in which the interviewer has access to and likely has reviewed your application materials. Therefore, they may ask you specific questions pertaining to any activities or experiences that you described when you applied. It is important that you can speak intelligently (and with sufficient detail) about the items you have included in your ADEA/AADSAS application, so be careful to review every aspect of your application responses before your interview day. You do not want to be caught off guard about a particular shadowing, volunteering, or research experience that you submitted but are not prepared to talk about at-length. Closed interviews are those in which the interviewer does not have any of your application materials upfront and will likely ask you to provide information about yourself that you may have not included in your application. In fact, they may likely wish to know those things about your life that have very little to do with your academic career or professional goals. Do not be surprised if you are asked about your family or hobbies you may have. Other interviewers may ask what you believe you would be doing if you never went to dental school.

Group Interviews

Some programs pair one-on-one interviews with group interviews. Group interviews can take a variety of forms: 1) a single interviewer and multiple applicants, 2) a single applicant and multiple interviewers, 3) multiple interviewers and applicants.

In group interviews, it is especially important to take note of what is being said, even if a particular question has not been directed to you. Often, you will be asked the same question or asked to follow-up to another applicant or interviewer's response.

Multiple-Mini Interview (MMI)

Another format that has been gaining popularity is the Multiple-Mini Interview or MMI. First developed in Canada, MMI is an interview format developed to assess an applicant’s skill and proficiency in areas such as problem solving, logical thinking, interpersonal skills, and ethical judgment--skills that cannot be reliably determined by simply reviewing DAT scores or transcripts alone.

In an MMI, you can expect to encounter 6-10 "stations," where you will interact with an interviewer or actor in a brief question, scenario, or task that will assess your communication skills, specifically verbal and nonverbal skills.  These scenarios often involve hypothetical and ethical problems that you may one day face as a practicing dentist. There are also scenarios that involve teamwork and assess the ability to work with a partner to solve a problem.

Due to the novel nature of MMI, it can be difficult to prepare for these interviews ahead of time. The most successful candidates are consistent in their own value systems and have pondered their reactions to various bio-ethics challenges before the interview day.

As of 2016, approximately 6 dental schools have begun to incorporate MMI into their interview format, including A.T. Still Arizona School for Dentistry and Oral Health, Midwestern University Illinois College of Dental Medicine, The Ohio State University College of Dentistry, Marquette University, University of Buffalo School of Dental Medicine, and the University of Michigan School of Dentistry.