Hello again! It’s that time of the year – leading up to Christmas, and hearing back from your Universities about interviews. You may have already started hearing back from some of your choices with interview dates; some are yet to invite interviewees and hold their interviews a bit later.
Some interview days may require you to turn up for your interview slot and little else; some may also involve some tours of the campus, Halls of residence and University faculties and facilities; either way, you will be given enough information to know what to expect for the day.
I’d say there are two parts of the interview. One involves preparing yourself as much as possible so that you bring across the best of yourself to your interviewers, whom may potentially become your future tutors; the second involves taking the opportunity to meet the wider circle of people at the University and investigate the place to see how you feel about it and about potentially spending at least 3 years there studying and living there as an Undergraduate. Of course, the first is the most important, but make the most of these opportunities.
You may have already attended some Interview preparation events – hey you may have already had some of your university interviews (not Oxbridge). And you may still be continuing to practice your interview techniques with friends, family, teachers and maybe even with us here at OA.
As part of your preparation, I thought I’d make a kind of final checklist of things to think about as you get closer to your interview days at Oxford and Cambridge.
In majority of cases, interviews are held before Christmas. Again, in most cases, you tend to hear back before Christmas, but it is not unusual to hear back after Christmas, or to be invited for interviews in January.
1. Read upon current affairs in Science and your special field of interest, if you have one, especially if you have mentioned it on your Personal Statement.
2. Know your personal statement thoroughly and make sure you are knowledgeable on everything you’ve written there – any books you said you’ve read, for example.
3. Before the interview, to get into the mindset, try answering questions of your own, perhaps some tougher questions in textbooks, online, Oxbridge Applications material.
1. Actively Listen.
Take in the full question, and all the information you are given. If anything is unclear at all, verify, ask.
2. Silences – don’t be afraid of them – use them!
This is something we remind ourselves even in our regular tutorials and supervisions. Take that time to think of a clear process, or as clear as you can get.
3. Think out Loud.
Take them through your thought process and working out. To take them through your thinking, and allowing enough of it to be seen to allow them to guide you, if need be, is what makes you teachable.
4. Be Directable.
If you are not quite on the right track, the tutor may guide to onto it. Even if you think you are on the right track, they may want to change or amend the question and go somewhere else with it. Whatever the reason may be, pay attention to the directions and leads you may get from your tutor.
5. It’s not about the end result as much as the journey.
We certainly hear this in many walks of life, but how true it is for Oxbridge interviews. Remember, you are not expected to know all the answers and have them ready to hand. And it’s not about the final right answer as much as the process you take to get there. So, remember to think about the process and communicate the structure and logic of your solution
These interviews are meant to be tough, Oxbridge or otherwise. Expect to be challenged. Make the most of these opportunity and the few hours or days that you will get to spend at what may become your future University. This could be the start of something very exciting! I wish you all the best!