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University Interview Tips

Before the interview

  • Find out what form the interview will take – if you know how many people will be interviewing you, and whether it will be formal or not, you will know what to expect.
  • Read the prospectus – have an idea about the course and university to show you're committed to studying there.
  • Look over your UCAS form – it’s often the basis for interview questions so make sure you can talk about the things you’ve said on it in detail.
  • Read over your A-Level subject notes – you may be asked why you took a particular A-Level or what parts of your A-Levels you enjoy.
  • Read a quality newspaper or magazine related to your subject – interviewers may ask for your opinions on current affairs or developments in your field.
  • Have a mock interview – get a teacher you’re not familiar with to prepare a formal interview to give you an idea of what it will be like.
  • Speak to students who’ve already had an interview – ask them what to expect or if they have any tips.
  • Think of points you may want to make in the interview – prepare specific things you want to say or subjects you want to discuss if you get the chance.
  • Prepare answers for common questions – for example, why do you want to study this course or at this university?
  • Think of some questions to ask in return – how is the course assessed? What teaching methods are used? Although make sure they’re not already answered in the prospectus.
  • Plan your journey – take into account rush hour traffic and finding the room/building so you arrive in plenty of time.

On the day

  • Arrive early – allow 20 minutes for traffic and finding the place. If you have extra time, take a look round the university or talk to other applicants.
  • Contact the university if there’s a problem – if you’re going to be late or unavailable due to circumstances beyond your control you should be able to rearrange the interview.
  • Dress smart but comfortably – formal clothing may be uncomfortable if you’re at the university all day, and dressing scruffily may give a bad first impression.
  • Turn off your mobile – you don’t want any distractions in the interview and it will not impress the interviewer.

During the interview

  • Be aware of your body language – look at the interviewer, make eye contact and try to smile from time to time.
  • Be enthusiastic about your course – make sure you get your interest in the course across to the interviewer.
  • Take your time with questions – don’t feel pressured to answer immediately, take a little while to develop your answers to avoid saying the first thing that comes into your head.
  • Say if you don’t understand a question – interviewers don’t expect you to know everything and will often prompt you or rephrase a question if you ask.
  • Give full answers – the interviewer is trying to find out about you, so make sure you tell them something. Don’t waffle just to make your answers longer though.
  • Don’t try to bluff questions – admissions tutors will know a lot more about their subject than you will. If you don’t know the answer to a question be honest and admit it.
  • Listen to the interviewer – answer the questions asked rather than the ones you’ve prepared for.
  • Ask questions – use ones you prepared earlier or new ones you’ve thought of. It shows you’re enthusiastic and will help you get more out of the interview.
  • Try to relax – interviewers will expect you to be nervous and will try to make you feel comfortable.
  • Be yourself – interviewers want to know about you, not just what tips you’ve read off the internet!

After the interview

  • Don’t worry if you found it hard – some interviews are designed to stretch candidates.
  • Make the most of being at the university – talk to students, have a look round the city or sample the local pubs.
  • Think about what you’ve learned – the interview also allows you to find out more about the university and course. How have your opinions changed?
  • Write down your answers to questions – this will come in handy for other interviews you may have.
  • Discuss your interview with other people – they can give you feed back on how they think you did and give you advice for other interviews.
  • Don’t worry about whether you’ll be offered a place or not – prepare for your next interview or just enjoy yourself, as you can’t do anything to change the result.