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Interviews (Including videos)


Clare 018Interviews….

  • What do they involve?
  • Can you survive?
  • How can you prepare?
  • What should you wear?
  • What should you read?
  • What sort of questions do they ask?

Have a look at the Q&A section to read what Oxbridge students say. Oxford and Cambridge are very transparent about interviews offering advice, guidance, example questions and  videos of interviews. Test yourself with some Oxford interview questions. Watch some Cambridge interviews. Part of the secret to success is familiarising yourself with the process so that you are not overawed and tongue-tied in the interview room. Oxford and Cambridge interviews are run  in the same way as their  classes. (These are called tutorials at Oxford and supervisions at Cambridge.) The main point of the  interviews is to see if you are comfortable learning in that sort of environment. This is one of the things that make learning at Oxbridge special. You really do receive a great deal of individual attention and feedback. When you write essays or do problems you will be asked to talk about them with your tutor, perhaps read your work aloud. A discussion will them follow based on what you explored in your essay (the title of which you will have chosen yourself) or  worked on in the problem sheet. It will probably be a completely different way of learning from anything you have experienced before: it doesn’t suit everyone. An interview is a chance to find out if it suits you. The main point to make is that there are no trick questions. Interviews will probably start with a warm up question and then perhaps ask you about something on your personal statement or the piece of work that you sent in. If you were given something to read they will discuss that. Science,Maths and Engineering students will be asked questions relevant to their subject, perhaps based on a graph or model or diagram. Have a look at the videos. Be as informed as possible about what happens. Top tips:

  • Wear something comfortable. Use common sense when you choose your clothes. They don’t expect a high degree of formality, but if you feel better dressed like that then do.
  • Read widely around your subject and look at related media items
  • Listen to podcasts  for example, Radio 4s In Our Time is a great source of cutting edge thinking on every topic imaginable
  • Follow BBC news sites. Scroll down to the end of the home page to see  specialist sites
  • Follow the universities or colleges on twitter: @Oxford and @Cambridge or an @Oxford student or an @Oxford College Corpus Christi and a @Cambridge college Gonville and Caius
  • Visit the universities
  • If possible talk to students
  • Go to open days or talks about Oxbridge
  • Enroll on study days and masterclasses. (You’ll find details about these on the university websites)
  • Apply for summer schools
  • Read the prospectuses
  • Watch the online videos provided by both universities.
  • Practise by talking about your subject with teachers, parents or other adults.
  • Ask for a mock interview at school
  • Revise everything that you are expected to know. This will mainly be AS/A level course content plus anything to which you have referred on your personal statement.
  • Be thoroughly prepared. There is no point trying to second guess questions. Interviewers are experts at spotting prepared answers, which very quickly run out of steam. They want to see how you think and will probably give you prompts and hints; this is what would happen in a class. The questions refer to knowledge that you have but will ask you to apply it in a different way or think about it from a new perspective.
  • Don’t expect feedback as you go along: there isn’t time. Don’t assume that a lack of praise or encouragement means you’ve got something wrong. Just keep going. Let them know what you are thinking so they can see how you are thinking.
  • Ask for the question to be repeated or rephrased if you are unsure. They will be very happy to do that
  • Don’t be afraid to think for a while; they won’t mind silence.
  • Remember they want to elicit the best from you. They are on your side.
  • Be enthusiastic about your subject and show them that you are very keen to learn
  • Finally, be nice. They work closely with students and being personable is important.



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