How to Ace the CDA Structured Interview

We assist dental school applicants with interview preparation in CDA Structured Interview formats, as well as Panel Interview and Multiple Mini Interview formats. For more information, please visit Astroff, leaders in CDA Structured Interview preparation.

This site provides background information, tips and sample questions for the CDA Structured Interview format used mainly by certain Canadian dental schools in their admissions process.

About the CDA Structured Interview

The CDA Structured Interview is an interview format developed by the Canadian Dental Association (CDA).  Many Canadian dental schools use the CDA Structured Interview format in their admissions process.

The CDA Structured Interview usually consists of seven questions.  It is typically conducted using an interview panel of 2-3 interviewers.  These interviewers are usually a combination of university-associated dentists or faculty members, dental students, and community dentists.

The CDA Structured Interview is a competency based interview.

What is a Competency Based Interview?

Competency based interviews have a different focus than traditional interviews as they assess the individual as a whole rather than focusing on accomplishments and future plans.  This format consists of a series of questions used to assess non-cognitive qualities (e.g., sensitivity to others).  The format of the interview is structured with all students responding to the same questions from a list developed by the CDA.

It is important to note that competency based interviews are not intended to test specific knowledge in the field of dentistry.  Instead, interviewers evaluate a candidate’s thought process and his or her ability to translate learning to new situations.  As such, there are no right or wrong answers to the questions posed in a competency based interview, but the manner in which a candidate structures his or her answers will have a significant impact on the outcome of the interview.

The Seven Competencies

Each year, the CDA creates a list of questions designed to evaluate candidates in a regimented format. Each question developed by the CDA is designed to test one of the seven competencies deemed necessary for success in dentistry:

  1. Communication
  2. Conscientiousness
  3. Integrity
  4. Judgment and Analysis
  5. Self-Control
  6. Sensitivity to Others
  7. Tact and Diplomacy

The CDA Structured Interview usually consists of seven questions; each question represented by one of the seven competencies.

How To Prepare?

How well you perform during the actual interview and whether you will ultimately succeed in gaining admission to dental school is in large measure linked to the preparation you do in advance.  The most effective strategy to prepare for a competency based interview is to anticipate the types of questions/scenarios you will face and to practice your answers.  Here are a few tips:

  • Consider the Competencies:  Consider the competencies associated with success in the dental profession and think about personal experiences that demonstrate that you possess these attributes.  Practice integrating these key characteristics into your answers.
  • Organize your answers:  Many students experience difficulty responding to questions in an organized and logical manner given the time constraints and pressure associated with the interview process.  Remember that the way in which you present an answer can be as important as the content of your response.  When relating to personal experiences, ensure that you describe the context in enough detail for the interviewer to understand the situation (i.e., what you accomplished and the steps you undertook).  Your answer should conclude with a discussion about the outcome of your actions and what you learned from the experience.
  • Listen to the prompts:  After you finish answering the question, the interviewers may ask a few follow-up questions before moving on to the next question.  The cues provided may introduce new information that may guide you to the specific issues that are the focus of each question.

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