Preparing for your Oxford Admissions Interview: Ten Top Tips

  • Ten Top Tips on preparing for your Oxford Interview
26 November, 2020

With admissions interviews taking place online this year, we want to ensure that applicants feel prepared and confident going into their interview. Here are some words of advice from our Outreach Officer, India Collins-Davies, to bear in mind when preparing for your interview.

In India's own words: “I think one of the things nobody tells you about Oxford interviews is the number of people who come out of them saying “that went fast!” or even better, “I actually really enjoyed that!” The waiting can be stressful (it is for any sort of interview) and the content of the interviews is designed to be challenging, but every interviewee is being asked to talk about something that they are passionate about. The interviews aren’t very long in the first place (around 25-30 minutes, usually), and when you get stuck into the discussion you’ll probably find that it feels even shorter. If you get a bit stuck part way through, don’t worry: your interviewers are the best possible people to help you out!”

With that in mind, here are her top tips for applicants:

10 Top Tips for Interviews

  1. Make sure you’ve had a look at the guidance for the technology used for interviews on the University website. Oriel, and all of the other colleges at Oxford, will be following this protocol. If you or your school are concerned about access to any of the technology, please make sure you get in touch.
  2. If you are applying from a UK school or college, interviews are being timetabled so it is possible for you to attend your interviews there rather than at home. Have a chat to the person helping you with your application at school to make sure you are both happy with arrangements.
  3. Re-read your personal statement and any submitted written work as part of your interview preparation. These could well be discussed as part of your interviews, and although you’re not going to be quizzed on their contents, it might be good to remind yourself what’s in them if it’s been a while since they were written!
  4. Remember that we aren’t looking for someone who is already an expert in their subject or interests: the interview process helps us to identify candidates who will learn lots and get a lot out of their experience as a student on one of our courses! If you’ve written about something in your personal statement or studied a subject before, we expect you to have an informed interest in it; you don’t have to know everything!
  5. There’s no need to cram for your interviews: actually, we’d advise you against it. Your interview isn’t designed to try and see how many facts you can remember about your subject, and you already have the skills needed to approach your interviewers’ questions.
  6. Our interviews help our tutors to get to know the way that you think in ways that aren’t possible from looking at your admissions test or UCAS form. Try to think out loud when you’re answering questions in your interview: we are more interested in how you get to your answers than whether they are right or wrong (and some questions might not have right or wrong answers anyway).
  7. Don’t believe any of the urban myths out there about weird interview questions or scenarios. Our tutors aren’t here to trick you and really want to put you at ease, so your interview is the best possible reflection of your abilities.
  8. Don’t stress out about having a question for your interviewers at the end of the interview. They might ask if you have any, but there are no expectations about what you might say and you aren’t being assessed on what you do or don’t ask.
  9. Don’t over-analyse what you said in your interview after it’s over. It’s very hard as a candidate to work out how you did, and many people think they did much worse than what their interviewers thought! Give yourself a bit of a break after your interview instead.
  10. Enjoy the conversation! It’s pretty exciting to be able to have an in-depth conversation about something you are passionate about with our expert academics, and you should be proud that you have earned that opportunity.

For more insight into life at Oriel, and what you might expect from your course or admissions interview, take a look at our student profiles page, where you can hear from some of our current students about their experiences.