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Applying to university

University interviews

University interviews can be daunting, especially if you have never had a formal interview before. Read our guide to help you prepare.

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CORONAVIRUS UPDATE: With face-to-face interviews currently on hold, see our tips and advice for virtual interviews.

 

Which university courses have interviews?

Some courses are more likely to require you to attend an interview as part of your application. 

Subjects that typically ask candidates to interview include Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Education, Music and Art & Design.

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects and social science applications are less likely to include an interview. However, some universities will interview for courses which are not typically interviewed for, especially if they are highly regarded or popular.

Oxford and Cambridge will not offer candidates a place without an interview, regardless of the course. University College London and Imperial College London will often invite candidates for an interview.

How to prepare for a university interview

Being asked to attend an interview is the mark of an excellent application, but you will be competing against other strong candidates, so it's important to prepare well. Follow the university interview tips below to help increase your chances for success.

Prepare answers for common questions
Most universities will want to know your answers to 'why do you want to study the subject?' and 'why do you want to go to this university?' Have your responses to these questions polished and memorised.

Re-read your personal statement
You might be asked about some of the things you included, so make sure you familiarise yourself with what you wrote. Ask your school/college to see your UCAS reference too – some questions may be in the context of your reference from your teachers or head of sixth form. 

Make sure you can attend
You are very unlikely to be given a place if you don't show up. If for some reason you can't make the date, contact the university to rearrange. This is really important as places on interviews are limited – it’s really bad form to cancel last minute (unless you have an emergency) or not show up. 

Remember to bring any additional documents
You might be asked to bring a portfolio of your work if you’re applying for a creative arts course. Make sure you remember it; much of your interview will be focused on this work.

Arrive on campus at least 30 mins before your interview starts
This will allow you to familiarise yourself with the location and avoid adding any unnecessary stress. 

Dress smartly and comfortably
Make sure to look clean and tidy so you make a good impression, but wear something you feel comfortable in. Some universities expect you to wear office smart/casual clothing.

Prepare your own questions in advance
If appropriate, you may get the chance to ask some questions of your own. Make sure you’re prepared so you can show you’re engaged in the course and interested in the university. 

Most importantly, remember to relax – you'll interview better this way
You've earned this interview based on merit, so with proper preparation and honest answers, there’s nothing to worry about.

Types of interviews

No two universities will conduct interviews in the same way, so find out about the finer details of any interview you’ve been asked to attend before you go. You should be provided with some information about the interview format before you attend so make sure you read this before the day.

Conventional discussion-based interview

These interviews will involve a discussion between you and the course tutor for your chosen subject. You'll be asked to discuss why you want to study the course and what makes you a strong candidate. You may be asked to complete a relevant task. Some interviews may be informal and in a group setting. If you are unsure, ask about the format beforehand. Most universities will give you insight in advance. 

Oxbridge interviews

Interviews for the University of Cambridge and University of Oxford have a reputation for being difficult. The aim of the interviews is not, as some people have accused, to simply trick candidates but to see how they react to new situations, so expect the unexpected.

Multiple-Mini Interviews (MMI)

MMIs are regularly used for candidates wishing to study Medicine and other similar courses. They are designed to see if candidates have the right skills and characteristics to succeed on a course. You'll be asked to complete a series of 'stations' that will test for different traits.

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