Dentistry Interview Questions (17 Questions + Answers)

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Are you preparing for a dentistry job interview? Chances are, you’re going to encounter questions that assess your hard skills, behavioral intelligence, and soft skills.

Explore the top dentistry job interview questions and tips on how to answer each one properly.

By the end of this guide, you should be well-prepared for your upcoming interview.

1) Where did you attend dental school? Can you describe your program?

Dentistry Interview Questions

Name the dental school you attended. Briefly outline the curriculum, focusing on areas that are pertinent to the role you're applying for. If there were any special courses, concentrations, or experiences (like externships) that are particularly relevant, mention these.

Sample answer:

"I attended the University of XYZ for my dental education, where I was part of a comprehensive program that emphasized both clinical skills and patient care. The curriculum was rigorous, covering all aspects of general dentistry, with a strong focus on restorative and cosmetic procedures. A unique aspect of my program was an externship in pediatric dentistry, which allowed me to develop specific skills in managing younger patients. Additionally, the program included a hands-on component in dental technologies like CAD/CAM dentistry, which I believe is increasingly important in modern dental practices. This combination of clinical expertise and practical experience has equipped me to deliver high-quality care and adapt to various dental scenarios."

This answer is effective because it clearly states the school and provides a concise overview of the program. It also highlights specific areas of focus, linking them to skills relevant to a dental practice.

2) Have you considered opening your own practice?

Be honest when answering this question. If you have considered it, acknowledge this. If not, state that your focus has been on gaining experience and skills in a collaborative environment.

Sample answer:

"While I've thought about the possibility of running my own practice in the future, my primary focus at this stage of my career is to gain more experience and develop a deeper understanding of advanced dental care. Working in an established practice like this one offers the opportunity to learn from experienced colleagues and handle a diverse range of cases, which I believe is crucial for my professional growth. I am particularly interested in developing my skills in cosmetic and restorative dentistry, areas in which your practice excels. I see this as a valuable stepping stone that could prepare me for more responsibilities in the future, whether that includes managing a practice or another advanced role in dentistry. Right now, I am fully committed to contributing to and learning from a team like yours."

This answer is effective because it acknowledges the long-term consideration of running a practice without ruling it out. It also focuses on current career goals, aligning with the prospective job.

3) Do you have any dental specializations?

If you have a specialization, like pediatric or sedation, name it clearly. Briefly detail the training you underwent and your practical experience in the specialization. If you don't have a specialization, you can mention areas you have additional interest or experience in.

Sample answer:

"I have specialized in pediatric dentistry, which I pursued after recognizing my passion for working with children and ensuring their early dental experiences are positive. My training included a residency focused on pediatric dental care, where I gained extensive experience in managing the unique dental needs of children, including those with special healthcare needs. This specialization has equipped me with the skills to handle various pediatric dental procedures, from routine check-ups to more complex treatments, and the ability to make dental visits less intimidating for young patients. I have also been trained in sedation techniques to help manage dental anxiety in children. This background has been invaluable in providing gentle, patient-centered care and in educating families about preventive dental health."

This answer is effective because you specify your focus on pediatric dentistry. It also includes details about residency and the types of procedures and patient interactions involved.

4) What is the most important thing you've learned in your years of experience?

Focus on a key insight or skill that you've gained that is valuable to your dental practice. Choose something that reflects positively on your professional development and is relevant to the job.

Sample answer:

"Through my years of experience, the most important thing I've learned is the value of patient communication and education. In dentistry, effectively communicating treatment plans and preventive care is crucial for patient trust and treatment success. For example, in my previous role, I had a patient with recurring dental issues. By taking extra time to discuss their daily oral hygiene practices and diet, and explaining how these were impacting their dental health, I helped them make meaningful changes. This not only improved their oral health but also their overall attitude towards dental care. This experience reinforced my belief that good communication is key to patient compliance and outcomes. I apply this approach in all aspects of my practice, and it's something I intend to continue emphasizing in this role."

The response shows a deep understanding of the impact of communication on patient care.

The story about the patient illustrates the practical application and results of this learning.

5) What made you choose the dental profession among other careers in the healthcare field?

Highlight what you find unique and appealing about dentistry compared to other healthcare professions. Discuss how your skills or strengths align well with the profession.

Sample answer:

"I was drawn to dentistry because it perfectly blends my interests in healthcare and craftsmanship. Since my early years, I've been fascinated by the intricacy of dental work and its impact on people’s health and self-esteem. What sets dentistry apart for me is the unique combination of science, art, and direct patient care. I have always had strong manual dexterity and an eye for detail, which are essential in dental procedures. Moreover, I find immense satisfaction in seeing the immediate results of my work, whether it's relieving pain or improving a patient’s smile. During my dental school internship, I was particularly moved by a case where I helped restore the smile of a young accident victim, which significantly boosted their confidence. This experience cemented my passion for dentistry, where I can make such tangible and meaningful contributions to patient well-being."

The response captures the blend of science, art, and care in dentistry. It also shows how your skills are well-suited to the profession.

6) How can you determine if a patient needs a dental x-ray?

It's crucial to demonstrate your knowledge of best practices and guidelines for dental radiography. Explain how you assess each patient's unique dental health needs and risk factors.

Sample answer:

"In determining the need for a dental x-ray, I adhere to ADA guidelines and consider each patient’s dental health and history. For instance, if a new patient comes in without recent x-rays, I assess their oral health risk factors, such as age, oral hygiene, and history of dental issues. During the clinical examination, if I notice signs like tooth decay or changes in gum health, these findings may necessitate an X-ray for a more thorough evaluation. For a regular patient, I review their history of dental treatments and any changes since their last visit. For example, with a patient who had a history of recurrent decay, I recommended a set of bitewing X-rays during their routine check-up, which revealed interproximal decay not visible during the clinical exam. This approach ensures x-rays are used judiciously, balancing patient care with minimizing exposure."

The response begins with a commitment to following ADA recommendations. It also includes using clinical examination findings to inform decisions.

7) What types of local anesthesia would you use to complete a filling?

When answering this question, demonstrate your knowledge of various anesthetic agents and their appropriate use based on the procedure and patient needs.

Sample answer:

"For a standard filling procedure, I commonly use lidocaine with epinephrine, as it provides profound anesthesia with good hemostasis, which is ideal for most cases. For instance, when working on posterior teeth, I often opt for articaine, as its increased lipid solubility is effective for achieving profound pulpal anesthesia. However, the choice of anesthetic can vary based on patient-specific factors. For example, in patients with a history of cardiovascular disease, I might use lidocaine without epinephrine to avoid any potential cardiovascular effects. Additionally, if a patient has a known allergy to amide anesthetics, I would choose an alternative like prilocaine. My approach is to assess each patient's medical history, the specific requirements of the procedure, and then choose the most suitable anesthetic to ensure comfort and safety."

The response is excellent because it starts with standard options like lidocaine. It also shows understanding of different requirements based on the tooth’s location.

8) Have you ever had to help a patient who was uncomfortable with a dental procedure?

Start by recognizing that dental anxiety is common and an important aspect of patient care.

Explain how you approach such situations, emphasizing empathy, communication, and patient comfort.

Sample answer:

"Yes, I've encountered several patients who were uncomfortable or anxious about dental procedures. For example, I once treated a patient who was extremely nervous about getting a root canal treatment. I began by calmly explaining the procedure in detail, ensuring they understood each step. I also employed relaxation techniques, like guided breathing and providing a stress ball to squeeze. During the procedure, I made sure to communicate consistently, asking for their feedback and providing reassurance. This approach helped in easing the patient’s anxiety, and they were able to undergo the treatment successfully. Post-procedure, the patient expressed gratitude for the considerate care, which significantly changed their perception of dental visits. This experience underscored the importance of empathy and effective communication in patient care, especially for those with dental fears."

This answer is effective because it shows an understanding that patient discomfort is a common challenge. It also includes clear tactics like explaining the procedure and using relaxation techniques.

9) How would you explain a dental health problem to a patient?

Show your ability to manage patient anxiety and provide compassionate care. For this question, let’s use the example of explaining to a patient that they need a cavity filled.

Sample answer:

"When explaining a dental health problem, such as the need for a cavity filling, I start by using simple language to describe what a cavity is and how it affects the tooth. For instance, I might say, 'A cavity is a small hole in your tooth caused by decay. If left untreated, it can grow and cause pain or lead to more serious issues.' I use models or digital images to show where and how the cavity has formed. Then, I explain the filling process: 'To fix this, we clean out the decayed part and fill the hole with a material that looks like your tooth, which prevents further decay.' I ensure the patient understands the importance of the procedure for preventing further damage and maintaining oral health. I also make sure to ask if they have any questions, providing clear answers to help ease any concerns. This approach helps patients feel informed and more comfortable with the proposed treatment."

This answer is effective because it demonstrates the use of easy-to-understand language. The approach is empathetic and aimed at ensuring patient comfort and understanding.

10) Can you describe your most challenging procedure? What was the outcome?

For this question, choose an example that highlights your problem-solving skills, technical proficiency, and ability to manage complex situations.

Sample answer:

"One of my most challenging procedures was a complex molar extraction on a patient with severe dental anxiety. The tooth was badly decayed and positioned close to a nerve, posing a risk of nerve damage. I took extra time to explain the procedure to the patient, using models to ease their anxiety and ensure they were comfortable proceeding. During the extraction, I used precise techniques to carefully remove the tooth while preserving the surrounding tissue and nerve. Despite the challenges, the procedure was successful without any complications. The patient was relieved and grateful, which was extremely rewarding for me. This experience reinforced the importance of clear communication, patience, and meticulous technique in managing complex cases, especially with anxious patients. It also highlighted the need for continuous learning and improvement in dental techniques."

The response is great because it includes handling a patient with dental anxiety. It shows your technical skills, patient communication approach, and learning from the experience.

11) How long would it take you to perform an extraction?

Emphasize your understanding that the duration can vary based on the complexity of each case, but you should provide an average timeframe based on your experience.

Sample answer:

"The time it takes to perform an extraction can vary significantly depending on the complexity of the case. Generally, a straightforward extraction might take about 20-30 minutes from the time the patient sits in the chair until the procedure is complete. However, this is just an average estimate. Factors like the condition of the tooth, its position, and the patient's oral health can influence the duration. For instance, an impacted wisdom tooth would take longer to extract compared to a tooth that is fully erupted and mobile. My primary goal during extractions is to ensure the procedure is done safely and effectively. I take the necessary time to assess the situation, administer proper anesthesia, perform the extraction with precision, and provide post-extraction care instructions. This careful approach ensures patient comfort and minimizes complications, which I believe is more important than the procedure’s duration."

This answer is effective because it recognizes that extraction times can differ based on the case. Giving an average timeframe sets a realistic expectation.

12) What was your average production rate in your previous position? How effective was the practice at seeing patients in a timely way?

If you have specific figures, mention them. Otherwise, describe your general productivity level in terms of the number of patients or procedures. Talk about the overall efficiency of your previous practice in scheduling and seeing patients.

Sample answer:

"In my previous position, my daily production rate varied depending on the procedures scheduled. On average, I saw about 10-15 patients per day, which included a mix of routine check-ups, fillings, and more complex procedures like crowns or root canals. We strived for efficiency without compromising patient care quality. For instance, we implemented a streamlined scheduling system that minimized wait times and allowed for adequate time for each patient. This system ensured we were effective at seeing patients promptly while allowing enough time to address their needs thoroughly. An example of this efficiency was how we handled emergency cases; we reserved time slots each day for unexpected appointments, which allowed us to manage these situations without significantly disrupting the schedule. This approach contributed to a productive yet patient-centered environment."

This answer is effective because you gave an idea of their daily patient load. Mentioning the scheduling system and handling of emergencies shows a well-organized approach.

13) Can you describe your typical exam with a new patient?

Start by mentioning how you establish rapport with the patient and review their dental and medical history. Describe the steps of your routine oral examination, including checking teeth, gums, and soft tissues.

Sample answer:

"In a typical exam with a new patient, I first establish a comfortable rapport and review their dental and medical history, ensuring I understand their health background and any concerns. I then conduct a thorough oral examination, which includes assessing teeth for decay, evaluating gum health, and checking for signs of oral cancer or other issues in the soft tissues. If necessary, I’ll recommend x-rays to get a complete view of their oral health. After the examination, I discuss my findings with the patient, clearly explaining any issues and proposing a treatment plan. I also take this opportunity to provide tailored advice on oral hygiene practices, diet, and any specific care they might need. This comprehensive approach not only addresses immediate dental needs but also helps in building a foundation for ongoing dental health and patient education."

This is a great response because it describes a thorough examination process. Discussing findings and giving oral hygiene advice highlights your communication skills and dedication to patient care.

14) How would you handle a pediatric patient who needed an extraction?

When answering this question, emphasize your approach to pediatric care, focusing on patient comfort, communication, and gentle technique.

Sample answer:

"When handling a pediatric patient needing an extraction, I start by creating a friendly and reassuring environment. I explain the procedure in a simple, child-friendly manner, using terms they can understand, like 'wiggling out a tooth.' I also involve the parent or guardian, ensuring they are comfortable with the process and understand what to expect. During the extraction, I use a gentle approach, prioritizing the child’s comfort and employing distraction techniques if needed. For example, in a previous case, I used a story-telling technique to keep the child engaged and calm during the procedure. After the extraction, I give both the child and their parent clear aftercare instructions, explaining them in a way that the child can understand and follow. I also provide reassurance and follow-up recommendations. This approach helps in making the experience as positive as possible for the child and their family."

The response highlights the importance of involving the parent or guardian. Specifically, the use of a storytelling technique as a distraction shows your thoughtful approach.

15) Have you ever had a patient who disagreed with your medical opinions regarding their oral health?

Acknowledge that such situations can occur and are a part of patient care. Discuss how you provide additional information or education to help the patient understand your medical opinion.

Sample answer:

"Yes, I've encountered situations where patients initially disagreed with my recommendations. For instance, I once recommended a crown to a patient who preferred a large filling. The patient was concerned about the cost and invasiveness of the crown. I took the time to listen to their concerns and then explained the long-term benefits of a crown, such as durability and protection against further decay. I also provided visual aids to illustrate the difference between the two options. After this detailed explanation, the patient understood why a crown was the more beneficial option and agreed to the procedure. This experience reinforced the importance of clear, empathetic communication and patient education in addressing concerns and ensuring that patients feel informed and comfortable with their treatment plan."

This answer is effective because it recognizes that disagreements can happen and are part of patient care. By listening to the patient's concerns, you show a patient-centered approach.

16) What procedures would you feel comfortable doing at our practice?

Clearly state the procedures you are proficient in and feel comfortable performing. If you have specializations or areas of particular expertise, highlight these.

But, if there are procedures you’re less experienced with, briefly acknowledge them while showing willingness to learn. Show your interest in further training in certain areas.

Sample answer:

"I am comfortable performing a wide range of general dental procedures, including restorative treatments like fillings, crowns, and bridges, as well as routine extractions and root canal treatments. I have a particular interest and proficiency in cosmetic dentistry, including veneers and teeth whitening, which I have performed extensively in my previous role. While I have basic experience in orthodontics, such as managing clear aligners, I would welcome the opportunity to expand my skills in this area with further training. Additionally, I am adept at conducting comprehensive oral exams and developing detailed treatment plans tailored to each patient’s needs. I believe my broad skill set and willingness to continue learning would allow me to contribute effectively to the range of services offered at your practice."

This answer is effective because you clearly outline the range of treatments you’re comfortable with. Mentioning orthodontics indicates an understanding of personal skill limits and a willingness to improve.

17) Are you interested in buying into our practice either now or in the future?

Start by stating your immediate career objectives, focusing on what you hope to achieve in the near term. Indicate openness to future opportunities, including potential investment in the practice. Mention your interest in learning more about the practice and its long-term plans.

Sample answer:

"At this stage in my career, my primary focus is on gaining more experience and honing my skills in clinical dentistry, particularly in areas like cosmetic and restorative procedures. I am very interested in being part of a practice where I can contribute to patient care and grow professionally. Regarding buying into the practice, while I am currently concentrating on developing my clinical expertise, I am certainly open to exploring ownership opportunities in the future. I believe that investing in a practice can be a rewarding endeavor, especially in a setting that aligns with my professional values and goals. I would appreciate learning more about the practice's long-term vision and how a potential buy-in might fit within that framework. Understanding these details would be beneficial in considering any future investment in the practice."

This answer is effective because you clearly state your focus on professional development. It also demonstrates a potential future alignment with the practice’s vision and values.

What to wear to a dentistry job interview to get hired

During your dentistry job interview, it’s important to reflect your professionalism and attention to detail, which are important traits in the dental field.

For men, wear a smart and tidy suit. Most candidates will opt for black or navy suits, and this is the general recommendation as it looks extremely smart and professional.

For ladies, a suit works well too, with a professional skirt or suit trousers and blouse as required. Choose to wear a neutral tone such as black or gray, maintaining the professional look.

Wear shoes that are both professional and comfortable.

For men, this usually means leather dress shoes. For women, closed-toe heels or flats are appropriate. Avoid excessively high heels or casual footwear like sneakers.

If there's a chance you might observe or participate in clinical procedures, wear or bring along appropriate clinical attire, such as scrubs, just in case. This shows forethought and preparation.

What to expect from a dentistry job interview

When interviewing candidates for a position in dentistry, interviewers typically look for a blend of hard skills, behavioral intelligence, and soft skills. Each of these areas plays a crucial role in determining your suitability for the role and your potential contribution to the practice.

Hard skills

Hard skills in dentistry are the technical competencies and clinical abilities that are essential for performing dental procedures effectively. These include:

  • Clinical Expertise: Proficiency in various dental procedures, from routine cleanings to more complex treatments like root canals or extractions.
  • Diagnostic Skills: The ability to accurately diagnose oral health issues using a combination of clinical assessment and tools such as X-rays.
  • Technological Proficiency: Familiarity with the latest dental technologies and equipment, including digital radiography, CAD/CAM systems, and practice management software.
  • Dexterity and Coordination: Excellent manual dexterity to perform precise dental procedures efficiently and safely.

Behavioral intelligence

Behavioral intelligence refers to how a candidate navigates the workplace environment, including their ability to adapt, problem-solve, and make decisions.

Soft skills

Soft skills are the personal attributes that enable someone to interact harmoniously and effectively with other people. In a dental setting, these include:

  • Communication Skills: Clear and empathetic communication with patients to explain treatment plans and oral hygiene instructions. Also, effective collaboration and communication with dental staff and colleagues.
  • Patient-Centric Approach: A strong focus on patient care and comfort, including the ability to ease patient anxiety and build trust.
  • Teamwork: The ability to work collaboratively with a dental team, including dental assistants, hygienists, and administrative staff.
  • Professionalism and Ethics: Upholding high standards of professionalism and ethical conduct in all aspects of dental practice.

Interviewers will seek candidates who not only have strong clinical skills but also show the behavioral and interpersonal qualities needed to thrive in a dynamic dental practice environment.

Show that you’re a well-rounded candidate for a dentistry position by demonstrating a blend of technical abilities, behavioral intelligence to navigate the workplace effectively, and soft skills that facilitate excellent patient care and teamwork. Good luck!

Reference this article:

Practical Psychology. (2023, December). Dentistry Interview Questions (17 Questions + Answers). Retrieved from

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