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Depending on your course, college, interviewer(s), and university, your interview experience will differ. Some of your interview days will require you to simply turn up for your interview slot (either in person or online) 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 or 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 continue to do, both before and during the interview. Here are 7 things to think about before your interviews, and 7 more to consider during them:


  1. Reread your personal statement and any submitted work, and make a note of any questions that are likely to come up. Anticipate them and then prepare for them.
  2. Revise key school syllabus content, particularly for those applying to study scientific and mathematical subjects.
  3. If you’ve mentioned any books or other resources 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.
  4. Make sure you are up to date on current affairs and recent events, particularly if your degree relates to politics or other social sciences. The BBC is a great resource for simple and easy to understand articles and timelines that will get you well informed. Interviews won’t require much knowledge of these, but recent events may well be used as a ‘springboard’ for broader questions.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Immediately before your interview, do whatever you can to put yourself in the best possible psychological position; energised, confident, happy, and curious are all good things to aim for. Remember that the interview is not an exam - it's an opportunity to discuss things that fascinate you with someone who shares your interests.

During the Interview:

  1. 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.
  2. 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, so back your ability and sell yourself!
  3. 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!
  4. Take time to think. 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.
  5. Ask for help if you 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.
  6. Don’t allow yourself to spiral. If your ‘inner gremlin’ is telling you that your answers are rubbish, take your attention away from yourself and fully onto the problem / question / conversation at hand. Chances are your gremlin is a liar!
  7. 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!

Want to chat further about interviews or about our mock interview packages? Call us on the office number, or email, and one of our Oxbridge-graduate team members will be happy to chat with you.

Online Mock-Interview Course

Our expert Oxbridge-graduate tutors, who deliver mock interviews on our Online Interview Courses, can give you personalised feedback on how you come across at interview. For practice, feedback, and advice on your interview approach, book a place on an Online Interview Courses.

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