When you’ve been working so hard for your interview, and suddenly that invitation comes through, it can be easy to do one of two things: either go off the boil completely, (ie. panic) or go mad and try to cram as much information into your head as possible. Neither is good.
To ensure you say calm, cool and collected, we’ve put together a mini action plan to keep you sane and on form.
If you have a couple of hours
Sit down with your personal statement and notes that you have made about the books that you have read, the work experience that you have done and anything else that you feel ready to talk about in your interview. Read through everything calmly and try to think of three key points about each – what did you learn, why was it important, and how does it relate to other aspects or your subject?
It’s also a good idea to take a look at the most recent developments that are happening in your subject –have there been any important decisions made recently, new discoveries or schools of thought? This applies not only to the social sciences – if you’re doing Physics, has there been a breakthrough at CERN? If you’re doing Geography, are there any conferences going on at the moment? And if it’s Theology that you are going for, has a major world leader just said something important? And don’t forget, this also applies to literature-based courses– has anything been announced about any of the texts you are studying? A couple of years ago a new Shakespeare play was accredited – pretty big news to miss.
One hour before your interview, put everything away, pop the kettle on and relax. Go into the interview feeling calm and collected (and turn your phone off!!)
If you have a couple of days
Go through your personal statement and try to anticipate what kind of related knowledge you might be asked. If, for example, you did your work experience in an ophthalmic surgery and saw some cases where patients were affected by diabetes or head trauma, why not do some research into how diabetes affects the eye in particular, or what actually happens to soft tissue and the brain in the event of trauma. You’ll never be able to anticipate everything, but having some surrounding knowledge on the areas that you might be asked about will make you feel much more confident when you go in.
If there are any particular articles or books that you have mentioned in your personal statement, reread the articles and the key scenes or passages in the text. Don’t attempt to re-read every book you’ve read on your personal statement – if you’re applying for English that could be very hard work! Instead – write a brief plot summary of the longer texts and then look up the key episodes – what are the key points, are there any stylistic elements that you should be focusing on, have your views on those particular points changed with your further reading or due to changing circumstances.
And if you have couple of weeks
The best thing you can do is to get some really good, subject-specific mock interview practice with someone who is an expert in your subject and has been through what you’re about to go through. If your school has teachers who can help you, ask to see them on a lunch break or after school. If your parents have friends or neighbours who read your subject at university, ask if they might be able to give you a mock interview (maybe sweetening the deal with a box of chocolates…). We are also running an Interview Preparation Day and you can come along and receive four mock interviews in your subject as well as an interview skills workshop and a communications session – all designed to give you the preparation and experience you need to excel when it comes to your interview.
And one final piece of advice. You could also find out whether there is anything that you could look into that would complement the knowledge you already have. Now is certainly not the time to embark on a whole new topic, to take on a new author or to try to read everything you can on a particular phenomenon. Instead, you should be looking for short articles and texts that will give you a new slant on something – it’s all about understanding things and then forming your own opinions. These opinions should be well informed, but flexible. You need to be willing to take on new ideas in the interview – so having new knowledge will definitely give you that added freshness and flexibility.
If you would like to book on to our Interview Preparation Day, just get in touch with our team.
And on behalf of the team here at Oxbridge Applications, if you have an upcoming interview, we wish you the best of luck – and don’t forget to get in touch if you have any questions at all about your application!