Interviews at Oxford are somehow misrepresented as something to be afraid about, full of big mathematical problems and trick questions; however, the only thing students need to worry about is to make sure to bring their personality to the interview, being prepared for a university admission interview will provide the student with confidence.
Dr. Helen Swift from the University of Oxford offered some advice: “We are genuinely interested in people’s honest views about what they have read. The questions are going to be challenging… but we are not expecting people to get everything right.”
In part 2 on interview tips or university of Oxford, we regarding who will be conducting the interview, how to prepare before you attend and how to impress the tutors of Oxford. In the second part, we are offering advice on what to expect from the interview, and how to deal with pre-interview nerves.
What if I don’t know the answer?
Ask the interviewer to repeat the question if you feel that you may have misheard what was asked, or ask them to elaborate. You could even repeat the question in your own words to verify that you understand correctly. Additionally, the questions won’t have a simple answer, and some may be quite broad. If this is the case, then feel comfortable to break them down and work your way through them to tackle each part of the question. If you feel that you might not know the answer to a question you can explore it as part of a question.
Here are some samples of Cambridge interview questions from previous interviews.
How to deal with nerves
Every candidate will get nervous to a degree, and the interviewers will take this into account. They also understand that you are not yet at university, but still, have thoughts and opinions.
“Certainly one major factor that helps are the teams of current students who are around when these interviews are taking place, who can answer questions and deal with any uncertainties. We very much appreciate that it can seem daunting, so we don’t try to make it anymore so. We try to put candidates at ease. It is going to be an intellectual challenge, but hopefully also an enjoyable one, because it gives [candidates] the opportunity to spend 20 minutes talking about a subject they most enjoy”. Dr. Helen Swift added.
One thing that can make an interview difficult is when individuals over-prepare and decide what they want to talk about before knowing the questions. Being over-prepared can hinder your performance as your mind isn’t as open, and naturally flowing.
Where should I go for more advice?
If students are ever unsure about any part of the interview process, they should get in touch with the university direct. There may be lots of things around the internet during the UCAS application process which try to offer advice, tips, or insights to what it will be like.
Who is chosen for the interview?
There are many excellence candidates applying each year at Oxford, and it isn’t possible for the university to interview every student that does apply. Tutors review each application, and a shortlist is decided in late November, or early December. Tutors then interview the short-listed candidates, usually in early to mid-December.
Candidates will receive an email or letter indicating whether they have been invited for an interview. In some cases, the individual may not receive this until a week before the interview is due to take place.
Information about the interview day at Oxford
The interviews usually take place in December and after the term has ended. Accommodation and meals are provided free of charge by the college which has invited the candidate to an interview. Most students of the colleges will have returned home for Christmas. However, each college ensures there are plenty of undergraduates around to help and advise potential candidates.
During your time at Oxford, it’s best to bring a few things to keep you busy, such as; books, music, activities, or school/college work to complete, as the interview does not take up the entire time you are there.
What should I wear to the interview?
Aim to present yourself well, but be aware that you don’t have to rent out a tux or a ball gown to attend the interview. Most tutors will dress informally/casually, and you are welcome to do so also.
Although you are not required to wear a suit, clean, ironed and semi-smart clothes will show you off in the best way.
The last words of advice we have are from Yedam, a first-year undergraduate student at the University of Oxford.
“Seriously, relax during the interview. Rushing off the first thought that comes to mind will very likely end in a wrong answer. Although getting an answer wrong doesn’t mean that you will fail if you have fun learning from the interview, chances are that you’ll do just fine”.
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