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Dentist Interview Questions

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  1. How would you conduct a new patient examination at your dental clinic? See answer
  2. How would you determine when dental X-rays are needed, and how would you conduct this procedure? See answer
  3. What methods of local anesthesia would you use for patients who need a filling? See answer
  4. How would you coach a pediatric patient through a tooth extraction or similar procedure? See answer
  5. What would you do if a patient disagreed with your assessment of his or her dental health? See answer
  6. As a dentist, you may have to treat patients who are deeply uncomfortable or even afraid of getting dental work done. How do you make patients feel comfortable, safe and relaxed while working with you? See answer
  7. If one of your patients needed to make lifestyle changes to correct their dental health, how would you approach the subject in an encouraging, productive manner?
  8. Many people see going to the dentist as a chore, making it hard to schedule follow-up appointments consistently. What strategies would you use to make sure our patients visit on a regular schedule?
  9. What would you do if you had a patient who needed oral surgery but couldn’t afford the procedure? How would you come up with alternative solutions to limit complications or pain?
  10. Do you have experience instructing dental assistants during procedures and overseeing their work?
  11. How would you handle working with a patient who involuntarily moved during exams and cleanings to the point that it interfered with your dental work?
  12. What are the different types of fillings common in dental work and what are the pros and cons of each?
  13. Are you comfortable giving dental cleanings to patients with severe overcrowding or missing teeth?
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6 Dentist Interview Questions and Answers

Q:

How would you conduct a new patient examination at your dental clinic?

A:

This question tells you if the dentist has updated training on the latest exam guidelines, and it allows you to gain insight into the candidate’s level of comfort with performing this routine check for patients of varied ages and health backgrounds. You’ll learn how thorough this particular applicant is when examining a new client and whether their exam techniques and mannerisms would help people feel at ease.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Ability to systematically check all necessary oral health areas
  • Capacity to keep patients comfortable
  • Attention to detail and record keeping

Example:

“I would review the patient’s health and ask about his or her dental concerns. After examining the gums and teeth, I would do an oral cancer exam.”

Q:

How would you determine when dental X-rays are needed, and how would you conduct this procedure?

A:

Asking this helps you decide whether the dentist’s philosophy on X-ray frequency and technique matches the philosophy of your dental office. You’ll understand whether this applicant would be likely to recommend X-rays that are overly frequent or clinically unnecessary. This is particularly important with pediatric patients and in individuals with cancer and underlying health conditions.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Ability to use X-rays only where clinically indicated
  • Understanding of radiation shielding and safety
  • Ability to diagnose conditions without X-rays where possible

Example:

“I would recommend X-rays only after doing a clinical examination. If possible, I’d use radiation-free diagnostic methods. Lead aprons or thyroid shields would be used during X-rays.”

Q:

What methods of local anesthesia would you use for patients who need a filling?

A:

This will let you know how committed the dentist is to patient comfort and safety during fillings and other common dental procedures. You’ll understand whether the candidate is familiar with the necessary precautions that should be taken when choosing and administering a local anesthetic. In particular, this question will help you establish whether the applicant would use topical numbing agents or newer technological advances to make anesthetic injections more comfortable.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Ability to verify patient allergies prior to choosing anesthetic
  • Understanding of varied anesthesia types and methods
  • Attention to patient comfort during injections

Example:

“I check the patient’s health conditions and allergies before choosing the anesthetic type and applying a topical numbing agent. I monitor for any adverse reactions.”

Q:

How would you coach a pediatric patient through a tooth extraction or similar procedure?

A:

Most dentists work in family practice, and this question lets you in on whether the candidate has the appropriate demeanor and skills to work with kids. By extension, you can also gather whether this applicant would be effective in performing difficult procedures for elderly patients and those with autism, dementia and other special needs. You’ll learn how the dentist might try to establish rapport and trust with the individual.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Ability to keep patient calm and cooperative
  • Capacity to engage with client and explain steps
  • Ability to work under pressure

Example:

“Using kid-friendly language, I would explain the entire technique before starting. I would describe each step during the procedure and continually check the child’s comfort level.”

Q:

What would you do if a patient disagreed with your assessment of his or her dental health?

A:

This question lets you know whether the applicant would remain professional and courteous under potentially tense circumstances. It provides insight into whether the candidate has knowledge of appropriate conflict resolution techniques and how they might choose to apply these with different patient populations. You’ll learn about their personal values, whether they are a team player and how far they would go to achieve client satisfaction.

What to look for in an answer:

  • Ability to respect patients at all times
  • Capacity to prioritize a particular patient’s needs and satisfaction
  • Appropriate use of conflict resolution strategies

Example:

“I would listen carefully and validate the patient’s concerns. I would show him or her evidence for my dental recommendations and suggest as many alternatives as possible.”

Q:

As a dentist, you may have to treat patients who are deeply uncomfortable or even afraid of getting dental work done. How do you make patients feel comfortable, safe and relaxed while working with you?

A:

To be successful and build a positive reputation, dentists need to understand that their patients are in a highly vulnerable position when in the dental chair. Dentists should be able to assess their patient's reaction to being in the dentist's office and adapt their behavior to make sure they can successfully complete the examination or procedures. This question shows the interviewer which candidates understand the social and psychological aspects of interacting with patients in addition to the technical work.

A good answer should display:

  • Empathy
  • Communication skills
  • Patience

Here is a possible answer:

Example:

"One of the main strategies I use to help calm down scared patients is to give them as many choices as possible throughout the appointment. I use this for both children and adults to help them feel more empowered and in control during a stressful time. I give them options for whether they want to look at their x-rays or not, what flavor of fluoride they want or which side of their mouth to inspect first. I also narrate all of my actions and ask permission before moving to a new task so they always know what's going on."

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