So you want to be a Dentist? The Dental Foundation Interview Process

So you want to be a Dentist?


Hello lovely people! 

So some of you may or may not know that i’m currently a 5th year Dental Student in Cardiff University. I’ve actually been a student forever because I did a BSc in Biomedicine (Anatomy) before hand too, so you could say i’m pretty familiar with student life.

As i’ve recently been through the Dental Foundation (DF) process which secures you a job when you finish the course (ensuring you pass finals obviously) and i’ve had a lot of questions regarding the interviews and exams, I thought i’d break it down for you all to understand so that you know what’s coming when you apply.

At the end of 4th year, you will probably have a lecture preparing you for the DF process. You are told to sign up to Oriel, which is an NHS recruitment website through which your entire application is handled. Dates will vary year to year, so i’ll keep them vague as to not confuse you!
By September time, you should be all signed up as the application to apply for the year you start will close.

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So how does it all work?

DF works on a national recruitment basis, what happens is, is that you get given a ranking- yep you’re ranked from number 1 to number 1000 (depending on the number of applicants of course) out of all the students applying for a place in the country.

So how do you get given said ranking?

There are essentially two parts which contribute to the ranking you get given. The first is an SJT (Situational Judgment Test) that you undergo in the month of November towards the start. This exam isn’t designed to trick you, it’s designed to test if you’re a safe beginner or not.

There are books which can help you prepare and give you examples of the questions that will be asked, the most useful one I found was The Dental Foundation Interview Guide which i’ve linked and you can pick up off Amazon. The test takes place in a Pearson Vue centre so it means you may have to travel to find one close to you. It was also very difficult to secure a time for the test, so make sure you set yourself a reminder or alarm and book as soon as the slots become available!


A few weeks after that, you’ll be invited for your interviews. The interviews are held in a few places across the country so you will have to travel to the city designated to you. As i’m in Cardiff, I had to travel to Bristol for my interview. A lot of people chose to travel down the night before and relax before the big day, a lot of people went up on the same day- it truly depends on what you prefer.

The interview

The interview was over before you knew it, after getting through paperwork and a short presentation, you were sent upstairs so take part in 2 short interviews which lasted exactly 10 minutes each. There isn’t an order as to which part of the interview you will do first but there are 2 stations run back to back. The first is a Professionalism, management and leadership station where you will most likely be talking for 8-10 minutes about a certain topic and your management of the scenario. You may or may not be asked questions as historically, they haven’t done so however I myself was asked questions so just something to be aware of.
The second part of the interview is an acting scenario where you are marked and assessed on the way you talk to a simulated patient and answer their concerns. Again, the book I recommended before has a lot of information on best preparing for this too.

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Choosing your scheme

After the interviews you’ll be given the chance to rank the scheme in which you want to work. There are 66 schemes in total which span all over Wales, England and Northern Island (Scotland is not included), it is up to you to rank the schemes from number 1 to number 66 depending upon where you want to work.

A few weeks later, you’ll be told which scheme you’re given. The way they do this is by matching up your ranking with your scheme of choice (so obviously the higher you rank the more likely it is to get one of your top choices).

And that’s it! Sounds a lot more complicated than it is, but it’s really just another bump in the road. The worst is over if you’ve managed to make it to 5 year. In the up coming months, you’ll then be told the exact practice which you’ve been allocated. Now every scheme is different, some schemes allow you to rank the practices and depending on your rank will then decide which choice you get. Some schemes offer a ‘meet the trainer’ day, others run another interview style day in which the trainers rank you and you rank the trainers (i’ve heard it’s a little like speed dating!)


You will officially start work as a DF in September time, usually the 1st however this may fall on a weekend so it always depends year to year.

It’s all very exciting so remember to enjoy the process! Everything happens for a reason too so you may not get the scheme you wanted but i’m sure you’ll still have a wonderful time!

I hope this post has helped answer a lot of the questions i’ve received, if you have anymore don’t be afraid to get in touch through any of my social media platforms 🙂


All the best and good luck!

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