Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Interview curveballs: Explain this weakness in your application

There were parts of my application I hoped would be overlooked. One of them was my low organic chemistry grade on the DAT which brought down my Total Science average by two points. This is how outstandingly bad my organic chemistry score was.

I was ten minutes into my first interview when my interviewer asked me: “Can you tell me about your organic chemistry score?”

I paused for a good three seconds. Because I didn’t know myself. And I did not have a good answer, for myself or for my interviewer.

What excuse is there for such a thing? The year I took organic chemistry, I lived off-campus. I took the 6AM lifeguarding shift, often heading straight to the pool after an all-nighter. I had an ER visit. But none of them are legitimate excuses (that’s an oxymoron) for my low score because the DAT science section is just like any other standardized test. It is impossible not to do well when you put in your due time and effort.

(I just really like this ending scene)

A strong applicant should recognize the weak parts of her application and come to peace with them. This is great because if you can explain yourself well, this converts a weakness into a strength- both for your ability to recognize your own weakness and for the lesson you’ve learned from that weakness.

As for me, I took some time to peruse the entirety of my application before my next interview. This is why I feel that interviews are a learning process. I felt more confident and comfortable at subsequent interviews because I was able to stand by every point (weak or strong) on my application.
Now that you are probably starting your application cycle, objectively review your application and pinpoint potential weaknesses before you are put on the spot like I was. You’ll be a better self-aware applicant even if you aren’t asked about it at your interview.
Did you have an unexpected interview question?
Going into the process, do you have weak points in your application you couldn't (or could) explain?


  1. I absolutely hate standardized tests >.<
    I always answer those questions with an improvement that I made. Steer the subject onto good stuff haha

    1. That's good- for me the initial shock of being asked that question was like- !!!. That was my Achilles' Heel, you know?

  2. Hi Yesle!
    First I'd like to say great blog, I'm applying this interview cycle and it has definitely provided me some insight into what to expect for dental school interviews.
    Secondly, you mentioned pinpointing potential weaknesses within your application. From your experiences, what kind of response would you feel is best for a weakness question? It is sometimes difficult confidently address a weakness? For instance, how would you respond to the low ochem DAT score question?

    1. My biggest thing was that I was embarrassed about my ochem score. I pretended it didn't exist and when the interviewer asked me, I stuttered and got very nervous about it. If I were asked the Q again, I'd acknowledge that I'm disappointed in the score myself too- because I was. And then acknowledge that it stood out as a lower score but I chose not to take it again.

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