Oxbridge interviews are shrouded in mysteryand dogged by myth so let us guide you through the process with the help of people who ve been on both sides of the interview
Oxbridge interview: top twenty tips for surviving - by graduates and tutors
Oxbridge interviews are shrouded in mysteryand dogged by myth so let us guide you through the process with the help of people who've been on both sides of the interview
Before the interview
1. Don't forget an alarm clock
It sounds mundane but could be make or break if you have an early interview and stay over in college the night before. Pack an alarm clock or a mobile phone that is charged so that you don't have a restlessnight's sleep worrying whether you'll miss it.
2. Brush up on your personal statement
Make sure you've done everything you put down in your personal statement. If you have time, quickly skim-read some of the texts you've mentioned so that you'll be able to quote in your interview or at least know what they’re talking about. “I hadn’t read one of the books on my personal statement so I got my dad to give me a quick summarybefore the interview. I got in there and they asked me about one of the characters and I had no idea who it was. It was so embarrassing,” says one graduate who read French and Spanish at Oxford.
3. Know what your interviewer has written
Rosemary Bennett, who read Politics, Philosophyand Economics says doing your homework on the subject tutors at the college will make you stand out. “Be really prepared and read what they have written recently. It’s so easy to find out what they have done – not so that you can suck up to them - but so you know their areas of interest. If you know their take on a situation you won’t go in with half baked opinions to the expert.”
4. Make an effort with your appearance
“Wear something bright to make yourself more memorable. Try to look smart but not too try-hard,” says one Cambridge Theology graduate.
Murad Ahmed, who studied Law at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge advises, “You just have to look like you've made an effort and take the interview seriously. That might mean a suit and tie, or just dressing smartly. The guy after me came dressed in a Gap hoody, and I never saw him again.”
5. Keep an eye on the notice board
Your interview time will be posted on the college notice board in the college entrance and in the Junior Common Room. The times of these can change at the last minute and if you are required for another interviewthe only way of finding out is to check the board. Some colleges will take your mobile number and ring you to let you know of any changes - but it’s best to check it every couple of hours just in case.
6. Don’t be put off by other candidates
“Don’t be too intimidated by everyone else and what they know – it is your interview and you will be the only one in the room – not them – so be confidentin your own abilities,” says Laura O’Connor who got into Jesus College Oxford to study Geography.
In the interview
7. Choose where to sit with care
The interviews are usually held in the tutor’s office and you will often have a choice of seats ranging from a plastic chair to a college heirloomwhich had seen better days when Henry VIII made a visit.
Kate Rushworth, who read English and German at Oxford says “I remember sitting on the sofa as inst