University Interviews

Some university courses will require you to attend an interview before being offered a place.

This can be a daunting prospect especially if you have never had a formal interview before. Read this guide to university interviews as part of your preparation.

Which university courses ask for interviews?

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

Subjects which typically ask candidates to interview include:

  • Medicine
  • Dentistry
  • Nursing
  • Education
  • Music
  • Art & Design

STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) subjects and social science applications are less to include an interview. However, some universities will interview for courses which are not typically interviewed for. Oxford and Cambridge will not offer candidates a place without an interview regardless of their course. 

There's also a strong chance of an interview for creative degrees like Music or Art & Design whilst Oxford and Cambridge will ask everyone to interview before being offered a place. Other common interviewers are University College London and Imperial College London, and other universities may require interviews for highly regarded or popular courses.  

Types of university interview

No two universities will conduct interviews in exactly the same way so make sure you find out about the finer details of any interview you have been asked to attend before you go. 

Common types of university interview include:

  • '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 task relevant to the course. 
  • 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. Learn more about Oxbridge interviews.
  • Multiple-Mini Interviews (MMI). Regularly used for Medicine, MMIs are used 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' testing for different traits. Find more information about Multiple Mini Interviews by reading our article.

You should be provided with some information on the interview format before you attend so make sure you read this before the day. 

Top tips for university interviews

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. Below are some tips to follow:

  1. Prepare answers for common questions. Most universities will want 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.
  2. Re-read your personal statement. You might be asked about some of the things you included on your personal statement so be sure to familiarise yourself with what you wrote. 
  3. 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 to a date you can make. 
  4. Remember to bring any additional documents. You might be asked to bring a portfolio of your work if you are applying for a creative arts course. Make sure you remember to bring it as much of your interview will be focused on this work.
  5. Arrive on time. This will avoid adding any unnecessary stress. 
  6. Dress smartly and comfortably. An interview is not the time to make a fashion statement. 
  7. Do some of your own interviewing. If appropriate, use the interview as a chance to ask your own questions so prepare some in advance. It will show that you're engage in the course and interested in the university. 

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