Updated: Jan 21, 2021
It's interview season! In an unconventional time. Due to COVID-19, many dental schools are exclusively utilizing a video chat medium in lieu of a formal school visit on traditional interview days. I completely empathize with the bummer of not being able to physically visit your potential future home for the next four years. Interviewing for dental school gave me a great reason to travel across the United States for the first time, see how truly diverse the people and the food are, and be on my own as a young adult. That being said, this application cycle also comes with its unique advantages. You will undoubtedly save over a thousand dollars on flights, hotels/air bnbs, dry cleaning and we know the cost of dental education is steep. At the end of the day, Wilson and I are here to support you through your primary goal of obtaining acceptance to dental school, and the interview is the last step to manifest that lifelong accomplishment. Although life has posed the interview process in a unique way this year, I encourage you to look at this with an optimistic outlook and we will certainly do everything we can (and know) to help you succeed. Check out these five things every pre-dental student should do to put their best foot forward interview day:
Include Your Photo: It is not necessary to have a professional headshot. Though I highly recommend you add on to your zoom account so that on your interview day, the school faculty and students can match a name to a face. You can ask someone to take your photo using a cell phone (See example below). The main recommendations are to:
Use a background that is not visually distracting
Consider Adding Name and Preferred Gender Pronouns: UCSF has requested all students and faculty to include their preferred gender pronouns on their zoom name ie. she/her/hers, they/them, he/his/him. When you attend a dental school interview or any formal setting for that matter, making an exceptional first impression is key. One way to achieve this is to be non-assuming. Doing this small gesture via zoom will speak volumes as to who you are as an individual in and out of dentistry, especially for schools that emphasize inclusion, diversity, and increase in representation in underrepresented minority (URM) groups, including the LGBTQIA+ community. (From a quick google search, this is being implemented at UCSF, NYUm, Chapman University, Duke University, UCSB, etc).
For a quick tutorial (less than 1 minute) on how to add your preferred gender pronouns on Zoom: https://lgbt.ucsf.edu/pronouns-matter-virtually
Get in the zone (physically): Before the interview, complete a test run to ensure the video platform is working well on your computer.
Audio: Record a short video to confirm your microphone, background noise, and audio are all set. Try it with and without headphones or AirPods. See what sounds better. You want to avoid anything day of the interview that will add easily preventable stress that can cause potential technical issues or delay the start of your interview.
Visual: Location is key! The ideal location will have natural lighting that prevents shadows on your face and neutral background that is professional and not visually distracting. I've had even had friends in dental school purchase selfie-ring lights to truly shine in their interviews!
Attire: Despite the fact that your interviewer will see your waist up, I recommend dressing professionally from head to toe. You never know if your interviewer will ask you to stand up, do an interactive exercise, or anything that you definitely don't want to be in your jammies for! The key to any successful interview is being prepared. It will also grant you the professional mindset from head to toe to crush your dental school interview.
If you can prepare these logistical parts of your interview, your already halfway there. For Wilson and I's advice on mastering your interview techniques, check out: "A Long Term Approach to Mastering the Interview" and "Dental School Interview 101: Prior Preparations".
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