Applying for a place at a dentistry school, and sometimes even when you try to get your first job after finally earning your DDS degree, you will face a couple of typical questions. One of them is “Can you tall us something about yourself?”, another one “Where do you see yourself in five year time?”. The most common questions of all, however, is the one about your career choice: “Why do you want to be/become/work as a dentist?”

Let’s have a look at 7 sample answers to the question. Acceptance rate at dentistry school is pretty low all around the globe (below 10%), and hence it makes sense to try to stand out with your answers. That’s why I included some unconventional answers on my list. Hopefully you will find at least one that resonates with you, and with the message you try to convey in your next interview. Do not forget to read also my notes below the list of answers, for additional hints on how to get the most out of your interview.


7 sample answers to “Why do you want to be a dentist?” interview question

  1. My choice is prosaic. I’ve always wanted to work in healthcare, and from all possible career paths in the field, I found one of the dentist the most attractive one. Communication with the patients play a big role here, as well as precision and attention to detail. I believe to have all these strengths. Considering my personality, abilities, and preferences, and going through different career paths in healthcare, I just find dentistry the most fitting choice.
  2. I want to be a dentist because I see how badly we fare in terms of dental health in the US. With the diet of a typical American, the gallons of soft drinks and other unhealthy stuff they devour each month, it cannot be any otherwise. I want to help with the situation. First of all with teeth repair in my daily practice, but secondly also with prevention, giving the patients advice on how to take care of their teeth, and how to adjust their diet to avoid certain problems. I consider it my personal mission and hope to make a positive difference within a community where I eventually end up working, once I earn my degree.
  3. I actually want to become a dental surgeon. I’ve been really fascinated with this field for years, plus, of course, I know how much oral surgeons earn–which is highly motivating as well, considering how many years one has to spend studying before they can finally perform their first dental surgery. In order to become a dental surgeon one day, however, I have to earn my degree from a dental school. That’s why I am here today.
  4. Speaking honestly, I am looking for a lavish lifestyle. Our neighbor is a dentist. They do not seem to work too hard, but they have a big house, three cars, and travel to exotic countries each year. Just like everyone else, I do not want to struggle with money. I want to enjoy my life, and, at the same time, do something good for the others. It seems to me that working as a dentist I can achieve this balance. Earning big, helping people, and at the same time not spending 200-250 hours working each month, which is the case in many corporate roles that pay as well as the job of a dentist.
  5. I want to be a dentist because dentists played such an important role in my childhood. I had a lot of problems with both my teeth and gums–not because of a bad diet, simply because of my genes, and was a regular to the dentist practice. The compassion my dentist showed, how she always tried to be nice and encourage me, and how she never hurried while doing her job in my mouth, inspired me to one day follow the same career path. You see, I also want to make such a positive difference in lives of other people, and children especially. That’s why I want to become a dentist.
  6. My goal is to work in the practice of my father one day. He’s been a dentist for over twenty years, and he currently employs three other dentists in his practice. But he won’t be young forever, and a day will come when he will need someone else to replace him in the practice, to lead the operation. I just hope it can be me, so I can continue the family tradition. Needless to say, I’ve been around dentists for years now, know the basics of the job, and sincerely believe that I’d enjoy this type of work.
  7. Actually my goal isn’t to work as a dentist. I want to work in dental research, helping to design new pain-free and cost effective ways of treating patients. I know it is an ambition goal, and just a handful of graduates from dentistry works in research. But I chose your school on purpose, because I know you have a good team of researchers in place. I’ve read their works, and I can imagine joining their ranks one day. That would be a dream come true, but I am aware that I still have a lot of work in front of me to make it happen.


Try to come up with a vision of your future

The more specific you are in your answer, the better. Try to outline some vision of your life in ten years from now. It can be anything from running your small practice in some rural area, or working in a dental clinic your father happens to operate at the moment, or even working on some innovative research in the field of dentistry.

Needless to say, anything can happen in ten years from now, and most people will find themselves living a life much different to the one they imagined back in the day, while still dreaming big and trying to get to a dental school.

While talking to the admission committee members, however, and explaining why you want to be a dentist, this vision will help you convince them of your motivation, simply of something that will help you cope with the heavy workload at a dental school.

Your dream, not the dream of your parents

The second most important thing is to convince them that studying dentistry is your decision. Sure enough, your parents, peers, your significant other (if you have someone) also have their ideas, and they influence your decisions. But you should not talk about these things in your interview.

Ensure the interviewers that you did your research, considered different career paths carefully, understand what awaits you at a dental school and afterwards, and know why you want to spend the next 4 yours studying at their school. Because if you do not manage to do it, and they get an impression that you are simply following the dream of your parents, you will likely lose your chance of getting in.


Opt for an unconventional answer if you have nothing to lose

You can find yourself in a variety of positions in your interviews. Maybe you have a great academic record, won a couple of awards, and schools are basically fighting for you. Or, on the contrary, you didn’t have a good GPA, didn’t get many interviews, and your chances to succeed are rather slim.

In the second case, it won’t do you much good saying things people typically say while explaining their career choice. In this case, you should try to stand out with your answers. Saying something different than the others.

It can be talking about dentistry research, but also being brutally honest, and talking about a lavish lifestyle you hope to lead as dentist one day, enjoying the big money you will earn.

Such answers are risky, but in some cases you have nothing to lose–and then it can be your best bet to actually become one of those “strange applicants” they will chose for the study program, despite an average academic record, simply to add a much needed diversity to the classes…

Ready to answer this one? I hope so! Do not forget to check answers to other tricky interview questions you may face while interviewing at a dental school, or other similar interview questions:

Matthew Chulaw
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