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15 Most Common Dentist Interview Questions and Answers

By Sherice Jacob

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Securing a job as a dentist entails not just the mastery of dental procedures, but also presenting a clear understanding of the role’s intricacies during an interview. If you’re one of those aspiring individuals who dream of making it big in this field, these dentist interview questions and answers are for you. 


What qualities and skills are hiring managers looking for in a Dentist?

  • Clinical Competence

This is the most fundamental requirement. A dentist must have the necessary skills and knowledge to perform dental procedures. This includes a solid understanding of oral health, anatomy, radiography, and various treatment methods.

  • Communication Skills

Dentists interact with patients, staff, and other health professionals regularly. Excellent verbal and non-verbal communication is crucial to explain diagnoses, treatments, and preventive care to patients, and to collaborate effectively with the dental team.

  • Empathy and Patient-Centered Care

A good dentist should be able to empathize with their patients, understand their concerns and fears, and deliver patient-centered care. This includes developing personalized treatment plans and ensuring patient comfort during procedures.

  • Detail-Oriented

Precision is paramount in dentistry. Whether it’s spotting a tiny cavity on an X-ray or performing complex dental surgery, attention to detail is critical for a dentist.

  • Leadership and Management Skills

In many cases, dentists have to run their clinics, manage staff, and oversee the administrative and business aspects of their practice. Thus, solid leadership and business acumen are invaluable qualities.


15 most common Dentist interview questions and answers

1. Why did you choose to become a dentist?

This question helps the hiring manager understand your motivation for pursuing dentistry. It reveals what drives you, your passion for the field, and whether your values align with the dental practice. It also provides insight into your dedication and potential longevity in the profession.

Do’s

  • Provide a personal reason that sparked your interest in dentistry.
  • Show your passion for helping people and improving their health.
  • Relate your answer to key aspects of dentistry such as precision, patient interaction, or lifelong learning.
  • Make a connection between your personal values and the values of the profession.
  • Be sincere and honest in your answer.

Don’ts

  • Provide a generic answer that could apply to any healthcare profession.
  • Base your answer solely on income potential.
  • Express motivations that don’t align with the values of the dental profession.
  • Over-rehearse your answer, making it sound unnatural.
  • Mention motivations that indicate you might not be committed to the profession in the long term.

Sample Answer:

“I’ve always been fascinated by the health sciences, but it was during my high school biology class where we had a special module on oral health that I found my calling. I realized how essential oral health is to overall well-being, yet it’s often overlooked. 

I wanted to be a part of that critical care, helping individuals maintain and improve their health. What solidified my decision was a summer volunteer experience at a local dental clinic. The interactions with patients, the ability to relieve their discomfort and improve their smiles, that was profoundly rewarding.”

2. What do you consider the most essential qualities of a dentist?

When asking this question, the hiring manager wants to assess your understanding of the role and responsibilities of a dentist beyond the clinical procedures. It helps them gauge if your perception aligns with the vision and culture of the practice.

Do’s

  • Discuss qualities that encompass both technical skills and interpersonal abilities.
  • Highlight attributes such as empathy, patience, and communication skills, which are vital for patient interactions.
  • Mention the importance of staying updated with the latest research and techniques in dentistry.
  • Address the detail-oriented nature of the profession.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the balance between business acumen and patient care.

Don’ts

  • Limit your answer to just clinical skills.
  • Overlook the importance of patient relations and team collaboration.
  • Ignore the continuous learning aspect of the profession.
  • Overemphasize business-related skills at the expense of patient care.
  • Give a vague or generic answer that doesn’t reflect your understanding of the role.

Sample Answer:

“A dentist, in my opinion, should possess a blend of technical knowledge, precision, and strong interpersonal skills. Of course, clinical competence is foundational, but beyond that, a dentist must be empathetic and patient, understanding that dental visits can be stressful for many. Excellent communication is key, as we often need to explain complex procedures in a way patients can understand. Attention to detail is crucial given the precision dentistry demands.”

3. Can you discuss a challenging case and how you handled it?

The aim of this question is to ascertain your problem-solving skills, clinical competence, and ability to handle stress. It allows the hiring manager to see how you approach complex cases, make decisions, and interact with patients under challenging circumstances.

Do’s

  • Choose a case that was genuinely challenging, not just routine.
  • Detail your decision-making process and the steps you took to handle the situation.
  • Mention any collaborative efforts with colleagues or specialists, if applicable.
  • Discuss how you communicated with the patient throughout the process.
  • Reflect on what you learned from the experience and how it improved your practice.

Don’ts

  • Disclose sensitive patient information that breaches confidentiality.
  • Choose a case where your actions may reflect poor judgment or unethical behavior.
  • Present the case in a way that suggests you were overwhelmed or unable to handle the situation.
  • Blame others for the difficulty of the case.
  • Neglect to mention your thought process and the rationale behind your decisions.

Sample Answer:

“I recall a case where a patient presented with extensive tooth decay and gum disease, coupled with extreme dental anxiety. The challenge was not just the severity of the oral issues, but also reassuring the patient and managing his fear. After a detailed assessment, I developed a comprehensive treatment plan which I then discussed with the patient, explaining each step carefully to ensure he understood and felt comfortable.

During treatment, I collaborated with a periodontist to address the gum disease. For the dental anxiety, I worked closely with the patient, taking breaks when needed and constantly reassuring him. It was a slow process, but ultimately, we successfully managed to restore his oral health.

4. How would you handle a conflict with a coworker?

The purpose of this question is to gauge your conflict resolution skills and your ability to maintain a professional and productive work environment. It provides insight into your interpersonal skills, communication style, and overall approach to teamwork.

Do’s

  • Explain your approach to conflict resolution using active listening, open communication, and understanding.
  • Highlight the importance of addressing conflicts sooner rather than later to prevent escalation.
  • Mention your willingness to seek help from superiors or HR if the conflict cannot be resolved directly.
  • Show your commitment to maintaining a professional relationship regardless of personal differences.
  • Share an example, if you have one, of a time when you successfully handled a conflict.

Don’ts

  • Suggest that you avoid conflict entirely or always defer to others without addressing the issue.
  • Present yourself as confrontational or aggressive in conflicts.
  • Imply that you would spread the conflict to other team members or engage in gossip.
  • Neglect to mention the importance of maintaining a respectful and professional environment.
  • Provide an example where your conflict resolution efforts were unsuccessful or led to further issues.

Sample Answer:

“I believe in addressing conflicts directly but respectfully. My first step would be to initiate a private conversation with the coworker to discuss the issue. It’s important to approach these discussions with an open mind and a focus on understanding their perspective. Active listening plays a crucial role in this.

If we’re unable to reach a resolution through this direct discussion, I would consider involving a supervisor or HR as a mediator to help us navigate the conflict. In fact, I had a situation in my previous job where a coworker and I disagreed about the scheduling of patients. We had a frank discussion and ended up proposing a more efficient scheduling system to our supervisor, which was eventually implemented.”

5. How would you define a successful career?

The intent behind this question is to understand your career aspirations, values, and what motivates you professionally. It provides the hiring manager with insight into whether your definition of success aligns with the objectives and culture of the practice.

Do’s

  • Tailor your answer to reflect your personal career goals.
  • Include aspects of professional growth and continuous learning.
  • Highlight the importance of patient satisfaction and positive health outcomes.
  • Mention any aspirations you have for leadership roles or contributions to the field.
  • Discuss the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Don’ts

  • Define success solely in terms of financial gain or prestige.
  • Give a generic or vague definition that doesn’t reflect your personal aspirations.
  • Overlook the importance of patient care in your definition.
  • Present unrealistic or impractical career goals.
  • Neglect to mention the importance of professional growth and learning.

Sample Answer:

“To me, a successful career in dentistry would encompass several factors. Firstly, being able to provide high-quality, patient-centered care that consistently results in positive health outcomes would be a prime indicator of success. Seeing my patients satisfied and their oral health improving is of utmost importance.
Professional growth is another key component. I’m eager to continuously learn and stay updated with the advancements in dentistry. I consider success to be contributing to the field in meaningful ways, perhaps through research or mentorship. Those, to me, are the hallmarks of a successful career.”

6. Why are you applying for this position?

This question helps the hiring manager understand your motivations for applying to their specific dental practice. It’s an opportunity for you to show your knowledge about the practice and how you see yourself fitting in and contributing.

Do’s

  • Mention specific things about the practice that align with your career goals or values.
  • Highlight the skills or experiences you bring that would benefit the practice.
  • Show your enthusiasm for the role and the opportunity to contribute to the practice.
  • Indicate how the role aligns with your career trajectory.
  • Demonstrate that you’ve done your homework about the practice.

Don’ts

  • Provide a generic answer that could apply to any dental practice.
  • Focus solely on how the role benefits you without mentioning what you can contribute.
  • Give the impression that you’re applying because you’re desperate for a job.
  • Fail to express enthusiasm for the role or the practice.
  • Overstate your skills or promise more than you can deliver.

Sample Answer:

“I’m applying for this position because I’ve been impressed with the reputation your practice has built for providing compassionate, patient-centered care. This aligns perfectly with my approach to dentistry. I also appreciate your emphasis on using the latest techniques and technologies, which resonates with my commitment to continuous learning.”

7. Where do you see yourself in five years?

This question is designed to understand your long-term career goals, your ambition, and whether you envision a future at the dental practice. It can also provide insight into your potential for growth and leadership within the practice.

Do’s

  • Discuss your professional goals that align with the role and the dental practice.
  • Highlight your desire for continuous learning and development.
  • Mention any specific skills you want to develop or specializations you aim to achieve.
  • Show that you have realistic expectations about career progression.
  • Indicate that you see potential for a long-term relationship with the practice.

Don’ts

  • Suggest that you plan to leave the practice soon to pursue other opportunities.
  • Give the impression that you have no long-term goals or ambitions in dentistry.
  • Provide a vague or non-specific answer that doesn’t show foresight.
  • Overstate your ambitions to the point where they seem unrealistic.
  • Avoid the question or show discomfort in discussing the future.

Sample Answer:

“In five years, I see myself as an integral part of your dental team, having built strong relationships with our patients and contributing significantly to their oral health. Professionally, I plan to further develop my expertise in cosmetic dentistry, which I believe could add to the services offered by the practice. I’m also interested in taking on more leadership roles, perhaps in a mentoring capacity for new dentists joining the team. Ultimately, I want to continue growing and learning in a way that enhances patient care and supports the success of the practice.”

8. How do you handle patients with dental anxiety?

This question is aimed at understanding your approach to patient care, specifically your empathy, patience, and communication skills. Dental anxiety is a common issue, and how you manage it can significantly affect patient satisfaction and outcomes.

Do’s

  • Discuss your strategies for building rapport and trust with patients.
  • Explain how you use clear and empathetic communication to alleviate fears.
  • Highlight any specific techniques or approaches you use to help patients feel comfortable.
  • Show understanding of the importance of patience and reassurance in dealing with anxious patients.
  • If applicable, mention any training or experience you have in managing dental anxiety.

Don’ts

  • Imply that you find such patients difficult or annoying.
  • Suggest that you rush anxious patients through procedures to get them over with.
  • Ignore the importance of clear communication and explanation in managing anxiety.
  • Give the impression that you are insensitive to patients’ fears or concerns.
  • Fail to mention your commitment to providing a positive experience for all patients, regardless of their anxiety levels.

Sample Answer:

“Dental anxiety is quite common, and I’ve developed several strategies to help my patients manage it. Building a trusting relationship is the first step, which I accomplish by taking the time to get to know my patients and understand their fears.

I always explain procedures in a patient-friendly way, ensuring they understand what’s happening and why. If a patient is particularly anxious, I discuss potential options for sedation or use distraction techniques to help them relax. Above all, I maintain a calm and patient demeanor, letting patients go at their own pace, and reassuring them that they’re in control.”

9. How do you determine if a patient needs a dental x-ray?

This question assesses your clinical judgment and adherence to guidelines and regulations. It provides the hiring manager with insight into your decision-making process and understanding of when and why dental x-rays are necessary.

Do’s

  • Explain the importance of evaluating the patient’s oral health history and current condition.
  • Highlight your adherence to guidelines like those provided by the American Dental Association.
  • Discuss the necessity of balancing the benefits of dental x-rays against potential risks.
  • Mention your focus on patient safety and comfort.
  • Describe how you communicate the need for an x-ray to a patient.

Don’ts

  • Suggest that you use x-rays indiscriminately without considering their necessity.
  • Ignore the importance of adhering to regulatory guidelines.
  • Fail to mention patient safety considerations.
  • Overlook the importance of clear communication with patients about why an x-ray is needed.
  • Neglect to explain your decision-making process.

Sample Answer:

“A thorough evaluation of the patient’s oral health history and a current clinical examination are essential first steps. I adhere to the American Dental Association’s guidelines, which recommend x-rays only when necessary to assess or treat a dental problem.

The decision also depends on the balance of benefits against potential risks. For instance, for patients who are pregnant or particularly sensitive to radiation, additional caution is warranted.

Patient safety is paramount, and so is clear communication. If an x-ray is needed, I always explain to the patient the reason for it, the benefits it provides in their treatment, and address any concerns they may have. It’s important to me that patients are comfortable and understand the process.”

10. How would you explain a dental health problem, like needing to fill a cavity to a patient?

Effective communication with patients is fundamental in dentistry. When explaining a dental health problem, it’s crucial to break down the information in a manner that is clear, concise, and comprehensible for the patient.

Do’s

  • Use simple, non-technical language that the patient can easily understand.
  • Discuss the issue, potential complications if left untreated, and the proposed solution.
  • Employ visual aids such as models, diagrams, or even the patient’s own x-rays to illustrate the problem.
  • Assure the patient and provide space for questions.
  • Be honest and clear about any discomfort, costs, or other concerns they might have.

Don’ts

  • Use too much medical jargon without explaining what it means.
  • Rush through the explanation without checking the patient’s understanding.
  • Ignore or dismiss the patient’s concerns or questions.
  • Overwhelm the patient with information. Be concise and to the point.
  • Avoid discussing potential discomfort or costs. Honesty is key.

Sample Answer:

“First, I’d make sure to explain the issue in plain language, saying something like ‘You have a cavity, which is a small hole that’s developed in your tooth.’ I’d explain how cavities form, and why it’s important to treat them promptly to prevent further issues like pain or infection.
Next, I would show them the problem area, either using a mirror or their x-ray, to help them understand better. I’d tell them that the solution is to clean out the decayed part of the tooth and fill the cavity to protect the tooth. I’d assure them that we use anesthetics, so they shouldn’t feel much discomfort, if any.
I would then ask if they have any questions or concerns and address them as clearly and honestly as possible. I believe it’s vital that my patients understand their dental health and feel comfortable with the proposed treatments.”

11. What are the indication for dental extractions, and how do you manage post-extraction complications?

This question aims to assess your knowledge and clinical decision-making in relation to dental extractions, as well as how you manage potential post-extraction complications.

Do’s

  • Explain the common reasons for extractions such as decay, disease, or injury.
  • Mention your adherence to guidelines and ethical considerations.
  • Discuss how you assess patients pre-extraction to minimize potential complications.
  • Share your protocols for managing post-extraction complications.
  • Highlight the importance of patient education about post-extraction care and signs of complications.

Don’ts

  • Suggest you resort to extractions without considering other treatment options.
  • Neglect the importance of patient safety and comfort.
  • Overlook the necessity of a comprehensive pre-extraction assessment.
  • Ignore the role of patient education in preventing complications.
  • Fail to provide a clear process for managing complications.

Sample Answer:

“Dental extractions are typically indicated when a tooth is severely decayed, periodontal disease has compromised the supporting structures, there’s a risk of infection, the tooth is non-restorable, or for orthodontic reasons. It’s a last-resort option when other treatments can’t preserve the tooth.

Before an extraction, I conduct a thorough patient assessment to anticipate potential complications. This includes understanding the patient’s medical history, examining the tooth and surrounding structures, and using radiographs to plan the extraction.

Post-extraction, if a patient presents with complications like prolonged bleeding, severe pain, or signs of infection, I provide immediate care. This may involve placing additional sutures, prescribing appropriate medication, or in rare cases, referring to a specialist.

I ensure patients understand post-extraction care instructions to minimize complications. I let them know what to expect and when to contact us if they notice any signs of complications.”.

12. How do you assess a patient’s risk for developing dental caries and recommend appropriate preventive measures?

Assessing a patient’s risk for dental caries involves understanding their oral health history, dietary habits, oral hygiene practices, and other risk factors. The goal is to proactively manage the risk and educate the patient about preventive measures.

Do’s

  • Discuss the use of a comprehensive dental examination and history taking.
  • Talk about assessing dietary habits and oral hygiene practices.
  • Mention how you provide personalized advice based on individual risk factors.
  • Highlight your approach to educating patients on caries prevention.
  • Explain how you follow up on risk assessment and adjust preventive measures as necessary.

Don’ts

  • Underestimate the importance of detailed history taking.
  • Ignore the role of patient education in prevention.
  • Assume that one-size-fits-all advice is sufficient.
  • Neglect to mention follow-up or ongoing risk assessment.
  • Avoid discussing specific preventive measures.

Sample Answer:

“A comprehensive dental examination and thorough history taking are my first steps in assessing a patient’s caries risk. I look for existing signs of dental caries, but also consider their dietary habits, oral hygiene practices, fluoride exposure, and medical history, including any medications that might affect oral health.

Based on this information, I can provide personalized advice. For a patient with high sugar consumption, for example, we’d discuss modifying their diet. For those with poor oral hygiene, I’d demonstrate proper brushing and flossing techniques and discuss the importance of regular dental cleanings.

13. How do you manage patients with complex medical histories and coordinate care with their primary care physician or other specialists?

As a dentist, it’s important to be able to understand the full depth of a patient’s medical history. This question is asked to understand how you communicate and coordinate surgeries, procedures and medications with their general physician or other specialists responsible for their care. 

Do’s

  • Explain the importance of comprehensive medical history taking.
  • Highlight your ability to adjust dental treatments based on medical conditions or medications.
  • Discuss the importance of communication and collaboration with the patient’s other healthcare providers.
  • Mention patient safety as the primary concern in managing these cases.
  • Share how you educate patients about how their medical conditions may impact dental care.

Don’ts

  • Downplay the role of the patient’s overall health in dental treatment planning.
  • Forget to mention collaboration with other healthcare providers.
  • Neglect the importance of patient safety.
  • Ignore the need to adjust treatment protocols based on medical history.
  • Overlook the value of patient education.

Sample Answer:

“When managing patients with complex medical histories, the first step is a thorough review of their health records and an understanding of their current medications. This allows me to adapt my dental treatment plans, considering potential interactions or complications. For instance, patients on blood thinners might require special considerations to manage bleeding.

In such cases, coordinating care with the patient’s primary care physician or specialists is crucial. I ensure to maintain open lines of communication, discussing the patient’s dental needs and any potential implications of their medical condition or treatments. This collaborative approach helps ensure the patient receives comprehensive, safe care.”

14. Can you discuss the role of digital dentistry, such as intraoral scanners and 3D printing, in modern dental practice?

When a hiring manager asks this question, they want to gauge your knowledge about the latest advancements in dentistry, your adaptability to new technologies, and how you leverage these tools to improve patient care. This question underscores the importance of technological proficiency in providing efficient and high-quality dental services.

Do’s

  • Talk about how digital technologies have revolutionized various aspects of dental practice.
  • Discuss specific technologies like intraoral scanners and 3D printing and their applications.
  • Highlight the benefits of digital dentistry, such as improved patient experience, efficiency, and precision.
  • Acknowledge the importance of staying up-to-date with the latest advancements.
  • Discuss your experience or interest in using these technologies.

Don’ts

  • Overlook the impact of digital dentistry on modern practices.
  • Ignore discussing specific technologies asked in the question.
  • Forget to mention the benefits these technologies bring to patient care and practice efficiency.
  • Avoid discussing your ability or willingness to learn and adapt to new technologies.
  • Neglect to acknowledge that technology must be used judiciously and with patient consent.

Sample Answer:

“Digital dentistry has transformed modern dental practices, bringing remarkable improvements in efficiency, precision, and patient experience. Intraoral scanners and 3D printing are excellent examples of this shift.

Intraoral scanners allow us to capture detailed 3D images of the patient’s mouth, significantly enhancing diagnosis, treatment planning, and patient communication. Patients often find the process more comfortable than traditional impressions.

3D printing, on the other hand, has revolutionized the creation of dental appliances. Whether it’s a crown, bridge, or orthodontic aligner, we can now produce these in-house with incredible accuracy, speeding up the treatment process and ensuring a superior fit.”

15. Share with me your process for working with the youngest patients when it comes to pediatric dentistry

This question is asked to understand your comfort level, ability, and experience in handling pediatric patients, which is a critical aspect of general dentistry. It also helps the interviewer to assess your communication skills, patience, and your ability to create a welcoming environment for children.

Do’s

  • Explain your approach to making the dental office a welcoming place for children.
  • Discuss how you tailor your communication to be age-appropriate and clear for young patients.
  • Talk about your techniques for building trust and reducing fear or anxiety.
  • Share any specific training or experience you have in pediatric dentistry.
  • Highlight your commitment to educating children about oral health.

Don’ts

  • Underplay the unique challenges and requirements of working with children.
  • Neglect to discuss your strategies for handling young patients who may be anxious or uncooperative.
  • Forget to mention the importance of patience and understanding when working with young patients.
  • Overlook the role of parents or guardians in pediatric dentistry.
  • Ignore the importance of early dental education and prevention.

Sample Answer:

“My approach to pediatric dentistry begins with creating a welcoming and kid-friendly environment in the office to help children feel comfortable. Communication is crucial, and I ensure to use age-appropriate language, often incorporating visual aids or demonstrations to explain what we’re going to do.

Building trust is also vital, so I spend time getting to know my young patients, allowing them to become familiar with the dental tools, and always going at a pace they’re comfortable with. For children who are particularly anxious, distraction techniques or, in some cases, gentle sedation might be considered.

Parents or guardians are integral to the process. I make sure to keep them informed about their child’s dental health, proposed treatments, and ways to reinforce good oral hygiene habits at home.

Your Next Steps to Landing a Job as a Dentist

Preparing for a dental job interview involves more than just brushing up on your clinical skills. It requires understanding what the hiring manager is looking for and effectively communicating your qualifications, experience, and commitment to providing high-quality patient care. 

Remember to demonstrate your knowledge of current technologies, adaptability, patient communication skills, and ability to work with diverse patient populations, including children. Most importantly, showcase your passion for dentistry and your dedication to continual learning and professional growth. By preparing thoroughly and strategically, you can confidently navigate your dental interview and move closer to securing your desired role. 

In the meantime, you can brush up on other interview skills, create your resume (it’s 100% free), and build on your experience by networking and harnessing other important job seeking skills.


Sherice Jacob

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