If you are reading this right now, chances are you now have your interview date… Congratulations! Give yourself a pat on the back and then get ready for some hardcore interview preparation.
Depending on your college and your University, your interview experience will differ. Some of your interview days will require you to simply turn up for your interview slot whereas others can involve some tours of the campus, Halls of residence and University faculties and facilities; either way, you will know well in advance what is expected of you on the day.
You may have already attended some Interview preparation events/worked on your interview skills –with friends, at school, with your family or teachers and maybe even with us here at Oxbridge Applications, but there’s a lot you can do, both before, and during the interview. Here are my top tips:
- Reread your Personal Statement and make a note of any questions that are likely to come up. Anticipate them and then prepare for them.
- If you’ve mentioned any books in your Personal Statement, go over them again. You are not supposed to do a review – the interviewers are going to want to know what you thought, what you agreed/disagreed with and any further ideas it pushed you to.
- Make sure you are up to date on current affairs and recent events such as the recession etc. The BBC is a great resource for simple and easy to understand articles and timelines that will get you well informed.
- Do as many mock interviews as you can – the more practice you have with answering tough and unexpected questions, the better you will be on the day.
- Research your interviewers and the fellows at the college you are applying to. They will know much more about their speciality than you could learn in a month or two, but knowing the basics will help you prepare for tough questions they might throw at you. It could also help you to answer the question of why you chose that particular college.
During the Interview –
- Listen to the question. A lot of students are nervous and so answer the question they think they heard, rather than what was actually asked. Do ask for the question to be repeated or clarified if it is not clear.
- Use every sentence to sell yourself. Do not assume that the interviewer(s) have read your Personal Statement, or that they remember it. Your interview is the best way to show yourself off to the best of your ability. Make sure that every sentence possible you demonstrate your passion by mentioning extra reading, lectures, essay competitions and anything else you’ve done that would make you stand out from the crowd.
- Think out loud. Oxbridge interview questions are supposed to be difficult – it gives students an opportunity to demonstrate how they think and to prove they can cope with, and enjoy, the intellectual challenge. Interviewers can only see this if you think out loud!
- Take time to think. A silence can be really scary but it is important to give yourself time to think, formulate an answer and express yourself clearly and in a structured manner.
- Ask for help if you really get stuck. There is no shame in asking for a nudge in the right direction – just make sure that before you do, you have exhausted all your thought processes (out loud!) so that the interviewer knows you have tried your best.
Lastly, and most importantly, enjoy your interview! Interviewers are likely to end up supervising you and want to see that they will enjoy the experience. If you have fun, they will too!