Education Eye: Preparing properly for a university interview

Catherine Stoker
Catherine Stoker

Following on from last week’s advice about university offers, here are some tips on interviews.

Which universities and courses are more likely to interview is not an exact science.

However, you’re most likely to be interviewed, rather than receiving a conditional offer straight away, if you’re applying for a professional training degree, such as dentistry, primary education, social work or nursing. It’s also likely you’ll be interviewed for a talent-based degree such as music, acting, art and design.

Occasionally, you could be interviewed for degrees in sciences, engineering or computing. You’re least likely to be interviewed if your course involves humanities or social sciences like English, Politics, History or Geography.

Some universities are known to interview on a more regular basis such as Oxford, Cambridge, Imperial, UCL, Warwick and York, but this varies each year.

Here are some key points to prepare for interviews.

Be aware of the interview format. Individual or group, face to face or Skype and is written work or testing required?

Re-read your personal statement. Elaborating on key points will be an important part of your interview.

Research course content and be ready to give opinions as to why its core and optional modules of study appeal to you. Be prepared to demonstrate why you’ll be good at particular topics and what skills you have to succeed on the course. Showing passion is essential.

Prepare examples to demonstrate your key skills. Leadership – head of house. Dedication – charity work. Teamwork – Duke of Edinburgh. Be ready to sell yourself by emphasising these skills during interview.

Research the interviewer. What’s their role and career background? This helps engage them in conversation by finding common ground.

Ask relevant questions as this is your opportunity to impress the interviewer and find out more about the course, to help decide if it’s right for you.

Know why the university appeals and how you would contribute to university life as a whole. They are interested in the all-round you, not just academics.