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University Interview Tips

Been invited to a university interview, but struggling to prepare? Read our tips below to make sure you give your best performance on the day, and check out our University Interviews Guide for further help.

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.