Everyone wants to look good, to have a nice smile and healthy teeth. And while we can control a lot of things when it comes to dental health–our diet, brushing teeth regularly, using inter-dental brushes, and so on, we cannot control everything. TMJ and teeth-grinding issues are something we typically inherit from our parents. Skilled orthodontist can address these problems with a non-surgical treatment, with a help of braces, retainers, and mouth guards.

An orthodontist earns in average more than $180,000 annually in the US, which makes this profession one of the top 100 best paid jobs in the world. Let’s have a look at the questions you may face while interviewing for the position with a dental clinic, or with other places that employ orthodontists.


Why do you want to work as an orthodontist?

Most people refer to the past. Saying that they earned their degree at a dental school and proceeded with residency and state exam, the next logical step is starting to practice at some dental clinic, before they earn enough money and experience to open their own practice.

This isn’t the best possible answer, however. It indicates a must, not a desire (you’ve already invested so much money into your studies that you cannot really turn back anymore). Try to refer to other things.

You can say that you’ve always understood the importance of healthy and good looking teeth. It impacts all areas of our life–our success in relationships, at work, and of course how confident we are. You understand the impact you can have on people’s lives as on Orthodontist, and see this job your calling, your personal mission.

What’s more, you have great attention to detail, are precise in your work, and enjoy working with people. Your strengths will help you to deliver an excellent healthcare but also an excellent customer service to your patients. When you take everything into account, you find the job of an Orthodontist an ideal match for your professional career.


Why orthodontics, and not dentistry or dental hygiene, or other field?

No need to start any philosophical debates at this point. You can say that you carefully considered all disciplines, all specializations, and what a typical day in them looks like.

Orthodontics was closer to your heart that the rest of the disciplines, and hence you decided to pursue this specialization. During your residency you assured yourself that it was the right choice, and you definitely do not have any doubts now. Surely, the market is there and will be there for any discipline related to dental health, for many years to come. But this is your way, your choice, and a career you want to pursue.

What is the most important thing you learned during your residency?

You have many options at this point. A popular one (and a good one indeed) is referring to the importance of communication with the patient. What you do in the practice is one thing, but unless they stick to the rules with their new brace or mouth guard in their daily life, they won’t achieve the desired results. It is crucial to communicate this to them properly, and also ensure twice that they understand all the instructions.

Another idea is talking about some technique, some innovation in the field, perhaps something you haven’t learned about at school, but saw the orthodontists applying in their work. I’m not an expert in orthodontics to go into detail here, but I am sure you know what I mean.

Some job applicants also say that the residency has helped them to become 100% certain about their career choice–and that’s the most important takeaway for them.


How do you imagine your cooperation with dentists, oral surgeons, and other healthcare professional working here?

Ensure the interviewers that you favor a holistic approach to dental health. You certainly do not plan to compete with your colleagues. On the contrary, in an ideal case you will cooperate together to design the most optimal treatment plan for each patient.

You can say that you plan to try your best to foster relationship of trust with your colleagues from the dental clinic. What’s more, you can get over your ego and ask your colleagues for help or for an expert opinion when you aren’t sure about the best course of treatment for the patient. That’s the attitude they seek in a good job applicant…


Imagine that a patient comes to your office shaking with fear, experiencing a lot of stress. What will you do?

Just do not say that a nurse or your assistant should take care of that. They certainly may take care of it, but if they failed or neglected it for any reason, it is your task to try and do something.

Say that you will try to calm them down, explaining that the treatment does not hurt at all. Your calm tone of voice and a friendly way in which you approach them will also help them get over their nerves.

You can also say that you will carefully explain them what you are doing with their mouth (or going to do), so they are aware of the procedures and do not envision some horror scenes. An injection can also help, but this should be your last resort only…


5 other questions you may face in your orthodontist job interview

  • Are you a member of any professional association?
  • A patient comes to your practice for their very first time. Describe the process of diagnosis an steps you will take with them.
  • In your opinion, what are the latest trends in Orthodontics and where is the field heading?
  • Do you think about opening your own practice in the future? What are your plans in five years from now?
  • In your opinion, what is the most difficult aspect of this job?


Conclusion, next steps

Interview for a job of an Orthodontist belongs to tricky interviews. They won’t ask you some superbly technical questions or anything similar. They have no reason to doubt your skills once you completed the dental school and the residency.

On the other hand, personal preferences often play a huge role in the hiring process. There aren’t many vacancies for orthodontists, and it is definitely easier to get in a clinic when you know someone there, when you have a connection, when someone can vouch for you.

However, this is not something you can control. Try to prepare for the questions you may face, show enthusiasm for your mission, learn something about their clinic, and give it your best shot. I hope you will succeed and wish you good luck!


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Matthew Chulaw
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