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University interviews

University interviews can seem daunting but with practice and preparation, you’ll put your mind at ease. Our guide is designed to help you prepare.

Interviewer turning over a page while interviewing a student

CONTENTS

  1. Which university courses have interviews?
  2. How to prepare for a university interview
  3. Types of interviews

Which university courses have interviews?

Some courses will require you to attend an interview as part of your university 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 that aren’t typically interviewed for. This can happen if the course has many applicants.

Oxford and Cambridge will not offer candidates a place without an interview, regardless of the course. University College London and Imperial College London may also 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 remember that you’ll be competing against other strong candidates. So, it's important to prepare well. These university interview tips listed below will help increase your chances of success.

Practice answers to 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, but balance this with sounding natural in your interview and not scripted. This can be a good chance to touch on what you mentioned in your personal statement.

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 important as interview places are limited – it’s bad form to cancel at the 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. Check this well in advance, as much of your interview may be focused on this work.

Arrive early

If your interview’s on campus, turn up about 20 minutes before it’s scheduled to begin. This will allow you to familiarise yourself with the location and avoid adding any unnecessary stress. If you’re doing a virtual interview, ensure you’re all set up in advance and that the Wi-Fi connection is strong.

Dress smartly and comfortably

Looking clean and tidy will ensure that you leave a good impression. But be comfortable too, as you’ll be more at ease. Some universities expect you to wear office smart/casual clothing.

Prepare your own questions in advance

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. Try to be original where possible and challenge the interviewer, to further emphasise your interest in the subject.

You could ask about:

  • A specific module and the topics that are covered
  • The type of learning you’ll do each year and how you’ll be assessed
  • What different roles graduates move into

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. Nerves are a good sign but remember to take some deep breaths before you begin. Admissions teams have asked you for an interview because they want to get to know you – that’s something to be proud of.

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. The university’s website may also have useful resources.

Conventional discussion-based interviews

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. Ask about the format beforehand if you’re unsure. Most universities will share insight in advance.

Oxbridge interviews

Interviews for the University of Cambridge and the University of Oxford have a reputation for being difficult. The aim of these interviews isn’t to simply trick you, but to see how you react to new situations. So, expect the unexpected.

Multiple-Mini Interviews (MMI)

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

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