As interviews are fast approaching, we will soon start seeing all these poor, unsuspecting but very hopeful pre-dents roaming through our halls. Rewind almost exactly a year ago from today: I was one of those hopeful pre-dents. Although it was a blur, the pang of nerves I felt on that day has rekindled my memory. I’m going to share some tips from what I remember.
Note: This advice is specific for the TAMCOD interview. Every school has a different process. I suggest looking up the school’s mission statement to see where they place their focus.
Before the Interview
A potential checklist for what you need to prepare:
- Get an idea for potential interview questions. See below for more detail.
- Know the interview style. Some interviews will have one person interviewing you with a list of questions they will go through. Some will prefer to have an organic conversation with you and ask you a couple basic questions (this is the A&M interview type). The interview is also (partially) closed-file as opposed to open-file. See below for more detail.
- Have at least 3 questions ready to ask your interviewer. You will have 3 different interviewers and they will all ask you if you have any questions at the end of the interview. You could technically say no or ask them the same question, but it doesn’t hurt to plan.
- Master the handshake. Be more cognizant of yourself when you next shake someone’s hand. For people like me who have spaghetti arms, this needed some work. A firm handshake just exudes more confidence.
- Buy a hard folder or portfolio. You will need to fill out some paperwork and you might want to take some notes during the presentations. You also need somewhere to put the papers they will give you.
- Buy professional business clothes. You don’t have to splurge on something extreme hoping they will applaud you for your chic fashion sense. Just wear something that is comfortable and makes you feel confident. If you are a girl, definitely invest in comfortable heels for the tour. I recommend these Clarks heels. I was walking on air.
- If you can, arrange for someone to drop you off and pick you up so you don’t have to worry about parking.
The Interview Day
My interview invitation was at 10am on a Wednesday sometime in the middle of August. That’s not actually when the interview started, however. When I got the the school, I went up to the 5th floor into the admissions office to find out I was the last one to get there. Believe me, I am late to a lot of things, but this was not one of them! I got there 5 minutes early, but I think everyone else had gotten there at least 5 minutes before me.
They had us wait in a small-ish room. The chairs were against the walls, all facing each other, so you had no choice but to make conversation while you all sit there filling out paperwork. I think there were about 10-15 people in the room consisting of the afternoon (me) and morning groups. Various faculty came in to give us more information about the financial aid, cost of attendance, research on campus, etc.
They then split us into 2 groups. One group will get the tour/lunch first followed by the interview and the other group will interview first. I was in the former group and the whole morning was spent in nervous anticipation.
During the tour, there were some nice D4’s who volunteered to show us around (although I think they were in it for the $10 lunch voucher). For lunch, I got a 6-piece Chik-fil-a chicken nuggets with waffle fries but I think I could only eat a nugget and a couple fries. I don’t know if this is a normal thing, but when I’m nervous my appetite goes out the window and I just can’t eat anything.
My group was finally sent to the same room they had us wait in that morning. They started to call us back one by one to be interviewed. Actually, the interviews were not that bad. I think TAMCOD, as oppose to some other schools, really just want to get to know you. Two of the interviews will be from the dental school faculty and one will be from the Dean of Admissions, Dr. Miller. The interview with Dr. Miller will be the only one that is open-file. I think she is the only one who actually read my application. The other 2 had my application in front of them, but they seem to have skimmed it 5 minutes before I arrived into the room. They mostly tried tried to spark conversation and get to know me, although they did ask a few real interview questions. The interview with Dr. Miller was much more of a typical dental school interview, but even then, it felt like it was more of a conversation than anything else. She asked me questions about my application mostly. I did not get asked any scenario “what would you do in this situation” type of questions in any of the interviews.
If you want to “study” for the interview, I would suggest collecting as many interview questions as you can in a word document with your potential answer. This is so you can look back on them and remind yourself what you might say. DO NOT memorize your answer, unless you want to sound like a robot. You want to sound as honest and un-rehearsed as possible.
Note: Only the first 5 questions were questions I was actually asked. I couldn’t remember the rest (if there were any other real questions to be honest), so I listed some others I think could also be asked.
- Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
- Why do you want to be a dentist? Be clear and confident in your answer. The person who asked me this did not read my application, so I briefly summarized my personal statement.
- Why A&M?
- Can you tell me about _____ experience you had? (know your application very well)
- What are you planning on doing during your gap year/semester? (if you have one)
- What are your strengths?
- What are your weaknesses?
- How do you spend your free time?
After the Interview
Now that your interview is out of the way, you should celebrate! Treat yourself to dessert, splurge on online shopping, go out with friends, whatever floats your boat. Then send a thank you card/email (I prefer email) to your interviewers. Make sure to grab their business card or you’ll have to dig through the depths of google like me. Then, pray you get in and wait patiently until December 1st.