Congratulations! You have been offered an interview at Oxford or Cambridge. Before you read any further into Tips for Oxbridge Interviews just take a minute to recognise what you have achieved. These two universities receive thousands of applications each year from some of the most talented students across the globe and you are now part of a very select few who get to come for interview. Whatever happens next be proud of what you have already achieved. To help you get prepared for your interview here are five useful tips from a past Oxford admissions tutor.
No. 1 – Get help from others.
Though you may be part of an elite group of interviewees there are other who have been in your situation. Do ask teachers, family friends, etc. who went to Oxbridge for help and advice but bare in mind that while the characteristics colleges look for remain the same the admissions process does subtly change from year to year. Tavistock Tutors has numerous tutors – including recent Oxbridge admissions tutors – who have successfully coached applicants right through the applications process and are up to date with the latest developments in Oxford and Cambridge admissions. Even if it is just 24 hours before your interview Marcus and Luke can provide you with a tutor who can give you the extra confidence you need to perform brilliantly.
No. 2 – Know your personal statement.
You have provided your interviewers with what should be a detailed description of your interests, activities, and academic record so make sure you know your own statement backwards and are prepared to talk about all of it. Most importantly, if you have mentioned a book or article make sure that you have actually read it and are able to discuss it thoroughly! Try to gain a wider perspective by reading book reviews in national newspapers and magazines like the London Review of Books and the Times Literary Supplement (many of these will be available online) or ask your tutor or teacher for extra resources.
No. 3 – Revisit your submitted work.
Along with your personal statement the academic work that you have sent in to your chosen college will often be the starting point of your interview. Go back and read it carefully while all the time thinking about its strengths and weaknesses as well as what you might do differently now. As always, talk to your teachers at school or, if you have one, your private tutor as they will be able to tell you where you could improve and what kind of further reading will best prepare you.
No. 4 – Just ask.
From the undergraduate helpers who will show you around the college to the academics undertaking the interview everyone will genuinely want to make you as comfortable as possible, if you need something just ask! Interviews are stressful so if you have got lost on the way to your interview or need a glass of water while you are being quizzed on your essay don’t worry no one will judge you.
No. 5 – Don’t worry about the other candidates.
People process stress in very different ways; some are loud and extroverted when they are worried while others prefer to hide away. Despite appearances all the other candidates will be nervous so don’t worry if you are not like them. Often those who bound out of interviews talking about how well they have done are the ones who have least to boast about. If you have sought outside help, carefully read your personal statement, and revisited your academic work then you will be in an excellent position to succeed at interview – just remember you have already come this far…
While studying for a DPhil in Politics Kit spent three years as a History Admissions Tutor at Lincoln College Oxford. He now tutors History and Politics from GCSE to degree level as well as helping candidates in the social sciences and humanities prepare for Oxbridge interviews.