Having university interview can feel incredibly daunting; let’s face it, your entire life plan might depend on you landing your first choice university place. Alternatively, you may have dreamt about going there to study your whole academic life. Either way, it is a big deal!
No one looks forward to the ‘Congratulations, we’d like to invite you to an interview’ email.
I never had an interview rounds for my undergraduate offers at LSE, UCL, Goldsmiths, Brunel and Sussex. However, in January I had three university interviews for my Primary PGCE (teacher training) offers at Cambridge, UCL and Bath Spa; they varied in time from a few hours to an entire day. Prior to becoming an offer holder for all three places, it was compulsory to attend the interview stage due to the nature of teacher training places. Although it is postgraduate level course, the interview process itself is not too dissimilar to undergraduate level programmes of study.
In what follows you’ll find a general overview of what to expect from an interview as well as my tips towards being prepared and delivering the very best interview possible.
Here is what to expect from a university interview:
- The atmosphere will probably seem quite serious/tense; however, try not to let this stress you out nor worry.
- There will be interviewers writing lots of notes about you; the note taker might not be the one asking you all the questions but perhaps in the background listening to your conversation. This is not uncommon and do not be put off by it, they are simply writing everything down that you mention for future reference once your interview time is over.
- They might ask you tricky/ambiguous questions that could require a bit of thought rather than an immediate response. They’d rather you take a minute and think about your answer.
- More than likely, they will bring up claims that you’ve made in your personal statement, e.g. work experience, academic history, hobbies, interests, subject knowledge (for which you are applying to study) etc. Make sure you know your personal statement inside-outside prior to attending your interview!
- During your interview slot, you might be asked to participate in a group activity with other fellow candidates; this is when you show off your teamwork and people skills. Make sure you socialise with others, put in your best effort and get involved. Remember that you are there to show off the very best version of you!
How to achieve a near-perfect university interview:
- Try not to stress nor worry to much. I promise that it won’t be as bad as what you think it might be!
- Be prepared for your interview.
- Research your chosen subject at the university for which your interview is for. Re-familiarise yourself with their course outline, aims and prospectus.
- Make yourself aware of any common or typical interview questions that might arise, you’ll find some with the appropriate answer here. Plan your own personalised answers!
- If possible, find out what your refereees said about you, so that you can live up to that expectation but do not worry if not!
- Plan your journey.
- I’d recommend that you arrive at your destination in good time. Get there early (around 15-20 minutes) and make a good impression on the interviewer.
- If you feel as though you need to stay overnight nearby in order to have a less stressful interview day, then do it! I did this for each of my interviews and it really helped.
- Dress appropriately.
- Smart-Formal is the most appropriate form of dress, unless stated otherwise. At the end of the day, you are trying to impress and show that you understand the context of your interview.
- Be comfortable, confidence and self-conscious wise, in your outfit choice as this kind of body language shows when meeting new people and loving your outfit most certainly helps!
- Follow the direction of your interviewer.
- For example, sit when told, shake hands if gestured to do so and only begin to talk once prompted.
- Also, sit up straight, wear your best smile at all times and make eye-contact.
- Present yourself as enthusiastic towards your chosen course and university.
- Sound and look interested throughout!
- Stand out – what is unique about you? Why should they pick you over another candidate?
- Do not downplay any academic or personal life achievements – the interviewer wants to hear everything worth celebrating about you.
- Contribute towards group discussions.
- Listen carefully and answer all questions.
- Do not answer with simply ‘yes’ or ‘no’ but always expand on your own response.
- Ask questions.
- The interviewers want to see that you are keen and interested in the course or university. Ask away but I’d wait until the end of your interview to do so.
- Most importantly, be you and be authentic to yourself.
- In reality, the university is interested in you; as let’s be honest here, they offered you an interview so that’s a sign. However, they are looking to see what you are like as a person, what your attitude towards learning is and if you stand up too all what you claim to be on paper. So just be you!
A university interview is far from a walk-in-the-park but with the above information, as well as having a glance at these two articles: one and two; you will be well on your way to offer holder success!
If you’d like to message me regarding my own experiences or any worries you might have about a university interview, then you can do so here. Don’t forget to leave a comment down below detailing any advice you might have for other applicants!