How to Prepare For a University Admission Interview
Have you been invited to attend a university admission interview, and are now feeling nervous and wondering how to prepare? Read our top 10 tips for university interview success…
Consider the type of interview you can expect
University admissions interviews are generally either evaluative or informative. Evaluative interviews can be expected in order to gain admission to particularly prestigious universities such as Oxbridge. In this instance, your performance in the interview will be considered when the university admissions officers decide whether to offer you a place. In an informative interview, you have the opportunity to find out more about the university, while the university also finds out more about you. In this case, the university admissions officers may be just as keen to impress you, as you are to impress them, because they want you to choose their institution. Of course, your university interview may include both evaluative and informative elements.
Think about how you can stand out
University admissions interviewers are likely to be meeting a large number of candidates, so you need to think about how you can stand out and leave a good impression. When interviewers ask you to tell them about yourself (a question that is likely to come up, in some form), try to respond with something memorable. This is your chance to convey your passion for your chosen subject, your future ambitions, and the qualities you possess that will ensure your academic success.
Re-read your personal statement
The tutors interviewing are also likely to refer to things you’ve mentioned in your personal statement or application essay, whether it’s about a certain hobby or a claim about one of your achievements. (This is one reason why it’s very important to be honest!) Have another look at what you wrote and consider any related questions that might come up in the interview, such as questions about particular books you’ve referred to, or areas of academic interest.
Re-read the course information
It’s also a good idea to take a look back at the university’s prospectus or official website for full information on how the course is structured, what the entry requirements are and what optional modules are offered, amongst other guidance. This will help you show that you’ve researched the course thoroughly, and could also help you form some useful questions to ask the admissions officers – there is usually an opportunity to do this, even in a performative interview. Make sure the questions you ask haven’t already been covered in the published course information.
Plan some answers to common university interview questions
As well as ‘tell me about yourself’, it’s highly likely that you’ll be asked why you want to study this particular course at this particular university. If you’re studying abroad, your interviewer may also be interested in asking why you want to study in the particular country, and what attracted you to studying abroad. You should show your interviewer that you’re enthusiastic about your subject and very keen on their university; be as specific as you can.
However, while some forward planning is recommended, try not to overdo it! Allow your answers to flow naturally, rather than sounding too rehearsed. This is certainly easier said than done, but try to relax during the interview and be yourself.
Know your subject
You should be well-prepared to explain to your interviewer why you’re interested in your chosen subject, and outline your motivations for enrolling in your chosen course. In addition, you can demonstrate your interest by reading up on the latest news, research and developments in the field. You may be asked specifically about some of these issues, or you may simply be able to draw on them as examples.
Practice with a friend
If this is your first proper interview or you’re simply very nervous, it might help to sit down with a friend or family member and do a practice run of the most common university interview questions. This should highlight any questions you need to go back to and think about again, or if you have a habit of saying ‘um’ too much!
Although university admission interviews are often fairly informal, it is much better to be dressed up than dressed down! Wear clothes you would wear for a formal job interview – something smart and comfortable, and you’ll make a good first impression.
If you’re attending an admissions interview in person (rather than via Skype, for example), make sure you know exactly where you’re going and how long it takes to get there, and allow plenty of time. You should aim to arrive around 10-15 minutes early.
Take a deep breath, and smile!
This is definitely easier said than done, but try not to worry too much. Remember that the university interview is usually not considered on its own when it comes to accepting you as a student. And also remember that the admissions officers have clearly been impressed with you so far to offer you an interview, so they’re seriously considering offering you a place. Even if you’re feeling terrified on the inside, force yourself to smile – it will make you feel better, and help to show your interviewers that you’re excited about the opportunity.
This article was originally published in January 2016 . It was last updated in January 2020