How to Answer the Top 10 Dental Interview Questions

A healthy smile isn’t enough to land you the job.

Reviewed by Chris Leitch

How to Answer the Top Dental Interview Questions


For many people, working in the dental industry is a dream job. It’s challenging, rewarding and well-paid, and it offers various career paths, such as dental nurse, dental hygienist or dentist.

Competition for dental roles can be fierce, and the hiring process includes a thorough dental interview. This recruitment stage aims to assess an array of hard and soft skills, ranging from technical know-how to how you work with patients.

To help you prepare for your dental interview, this article introduces you to 10 common job interview questions for dental roles, why they are asked, and sample answers for each one.

1. “Describe a challenging dentistry situation you faced and how did you overcome it?”

The interviewer will ask you this question to gain a good understanding of your level of expertise and how you approach difficult tasks at work.

Using the STAR method, it’s vital that you answer this question with an example that you feel has stretched you professionally, as well as one that ended well, so you can give the interviewer a positive outcome. Be detailed in your answer.


“Once I was performing a procedure on a patient who had extensive undocumented dental work conducted abroad. I gave the patient a thorough pre-examination interview, and then completed my own examination. I reached out to dentists in the patient’s home country to understand how procedures were done, and drew up a detailed treatment plan based upon my findings, ensuring that everything was documented.”

2. “Tell me about a time you had an especially anxious patient, and how did you handle this?”

This question aims to address a common scenario dental workers will face in their career.

How dentists handle anxious patients is critical. This question requires candidates to recall one memorable situation in their career and explain it to the interviewer. A specific, memorable and challenging example that showcases your skills and experiences is essential.


“I had a patient who had avoided dental work for many years due to a traumatic childhood experience. They needed extensive dental work, including fillings and extractions. I established trust by listening to their concerns and created a comfortable environment. I calmly explained the current situation and reiterated emphatically the importance of good oral health. I then created a staged treatment plan to ease the patient into the work and ensured the surgery was made relaxing and calming through soothing music and breathing exercises.”

3. “What do you think are the most important trends or challenges facing dentistry today?”

This is a technical question designed to get you to demonstrate your awareness of dental trends, thus showing the recruiter that you’re invested in your industry and you take a keen interest in keeping your knowledge up to date.

The question will require you to draw upon recent news, seminars or publications you have read, and for you to offer your own thoughts and opinions about trends and changes.


“I feel that while there are many fascinating trends emerging in our profession, one that I am most excited about is the advent of artificial intelligence in supporting dentists with diagnostics and treatment planning. This trend has the potential to add tremendous value to the profession. However, I do feel that the introduction of AI needs to be managed carefully. It needs to be offered to all patients regardless of demographic.”

4. “What are the key qualities a good dentist should have?”

This question encourages you to demonstrate to the interviewer your understanding of dental skills and the innate factors behind performing a dental job well.

What you focus on in this question will give the interviewer a feeling of your own priorities and values in the role, and whether you’re a good team player, so aim to give as well-rounded an answer as you can.


“As well as sound technical skills and a precise and careful procedural approach, dentists must be able to communicate well with their colleagues and patients. Explaining complex treatment plans in a warm and easy-to-understand way is essential. Additionally, dentists must be ethically minded, patient, have excellent attention to detail, and be willing to continuously learn.”

5. “Tell me about your strengths and development areas?”

This is a reasonably common interview question, but if it comes up in a dentistry interview, you will need to ensure your answer is relevant to the profession.

Interviewers ask this question to assess how your greatest strengths might complement the work environment and if your development areas can be mitigated by the team or through your other qualities. When preparing for this question, you might wish to refer to your most recent performance review.


“I believe that my key strength is my commitment to patient-focused care. I ensure procedures are thoroughly explained to my patients and follow up with them in the weeks after their treatment to see how they are feeling. One area of development I am focusing on is my clinical management experience. I am broadening my experience here by mentoring new dentists in my current practice and undertaking clinical projects with a small team.”

6. “What keeps you motivated in the dentistry profession?”

This question helps recruiters understand what makes you tick and see if you might be a good fit for the organization. It’s an opportunity for you to show recruiters what you love about dentistry and to get them to see the “real” you. Give an honest and thorough answer for maximum impact.


“My passion and motivation for this industry are twofold. Firstly, I love the impact I can make on people’s lives and wellbeing. Secondly, I am continually energized by the advancements in dental care and technology, as this ensures I have opportunities to continuously learn in my role.”

7. “Tell me about your career goals in the next three to five years.”

This is another question where recruiters can assess whether you might be a great fit with the organization. If your long-term career goals are aligned with the strategic outlook of the organization, this benefits your candidacy.

Conversely, if you express that you are eager to start your own practice, but the recruiter is looking for someone to grow into the practice leadership role, you might not be the person they are looking for.


“I do have plans to kickstart my own dental practice in the future, but I feel that I can only do this after working for a managed practice for the foreseeable future. Therefore, my medium-term plan for the next three years is to establish my credibility and broaden my experience as a dentist in an established organization.”

8. “Explain in detail how you would treat dental caries.”

This is a question posed by the hiring manager to assess your knowledge of dental procedures. They will also use your response to gauge your approach to challenges and your critical thinking skills through how you explain your answer.

Draw upon your experience and provide a concise but knowledgeable response.


“After a thorough examination and treatment planning, it’s vital to prioritize minimally invasive techniques to treat caries, such as fluoride treatments. Otherwise, I would then consider restorative procedures such as composite fillings or, in the most serious cases, dental crowns. Through the planning and treatment process, I would ensure thorough communication with the patient and, in follow-up, educate the patient on preventive oral hygiene.”

9. “Do you have any specialisms in dentistry and, if so, what are they?”

Dental specialties can significantly support your application. It can be beneficial for a practice to employ dentists with specialisms, as it can help them attract new patients, such as those with particular or more serious needs.

When answering, talk about advanced training, certifications or specific experience you have earned.


“I have an extensive background in implantology, garnered through continuous professional development, including a doctoral thesis on the subject and taking the lead on complex implant procedures in my current role. This combination of education and experience has allowed me to specialize extensively in this area and take on a wide variety of patients with implant needs.”

10. “What got you into dentistry?”

In this classic “fit” question, the interviewer is seeking to understand your motivations and career story that led you to pursue a career in dentistry. The information you provide in this question brings your résumé to life and provides context to your experiences.

You will want to tell the recruiter your career story, but make it concise, factual and useful to the interview.


“I have also long been motivated by an innate desire to help people. My school friends were pursuing careers in healthcare, and I was talking to a family friend who was a dentist, and they recommended the profession. After further research, I realized that this field was a great way to combine my interest in science and medicine with helping others, and decided that it was the career for me, so I enrolled in dental school and I never looked back!”

Final thoughts

It’s not easy interviewing to be a dentist. Selection processes are competitive and challenging. These top dentist interview questions cover a range of subjects from technical knowledge to clinical expertise, as well as assessing softer skills like communication, resilience and working with people.

If you take time to prepare great answers and examples to these questions, you will find that you will confidently execute your dental interview, and maximize your chances of landing that dream role.

Can you think of any other dental job interview questions? Let us know in the comments section below.

Originally published on January 9, 2015.