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About

This website was created and is maintained by the Schools Liaison team at Oxford Brookes University in collaboration with Magpie. The content is aimed at providing impartial and accurate information, advice and guidance about higher education in the UK.

The team are committed to widening participation in higher education by under-represented groups. To find out more about the activities we may be able to offer your school or college, please visit our website.

If you have any suggestions or feedback about the site, please email schools.liaison@brookes.ac.uk.

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Interviews

The great majority of British universities do not conduct interviews for most of their courses. Interviews are used, however for a range of courses that are particularly demanding (most famously, medicine), and for some courses where the way in which a graduate speaks or presents themselves is particularly important (for instance, education http://www.education.brookes.ac.uk/Studying/Routes-into-teaching/Teaching-course-interviews/). The exceptions are Oxford and Cambridge, which conduct admissions interviews as part of their general undergraduate admissions process. These are particularly competitive, and tutors need to have an extra source of information beyond the UCAS form to identify the candidates who are best-suited to their particular teaching systems. Because of this, however, a lot of unhelpful mythology has grown up around interviews. Remember that universities are simply looking to recruit the best students that they can. There are no hidden agendas beyond that, and no trick questions. Your interviewers expect you to be stressed and nervous. You aren’t on trial.

The most important thing is to know your stuff. Remember that tutors are looking for students who are enthusiastic, hard-working, and knowledgeable. The best way to show all these qualities is to read carefully around the subject in advance. Do this carefully and critically, so that you can say not only what you’ve been reading, but whether you agreed with the author, and why. Ask for advice from your teachers about what you could usefully be reading. Some universities publish lists of recommended first year reading online. If you have read a piece or two of that literature, and have your own opinions on it, an interviewer is likely to be impressed! You should never, however, claim to have read something that you haven’t. It won’t take your interviewers long to figure that out.

 

Whatever the result, try to enjoy the day. Even if you aren’t admitted, this is an opportunity to discuss an interesting subject with some experts, and might even give you some good ideas to think about in the run-up to your examinations.

How to Prepare

  • Know where you’re going. Plan your route. Arriving late doesn’t make a good impression and you may even miss your slot.
  • If in doubt, check whether to wear casual or smart dress. Aim to look smart and be comfortable, but don’t worry. You aren’t being assessed on your appearance.
  • Research the university and course.
    Check prospectuses, course leaflets and websites. Departmental web pages should give an idea of the course structure, topics, modules you can choose and work placements (if relevant). Some websites also have student profiles, so you can find out what current students think of the course.
  • Current affairs.
    Keep up to date, especially with developments in your chosen area of study. Read relevant articles in newspapers, magazines, journals and websites. Look out for radio, TV programmes and documentaries, and take good notes on them.
  • Personal statement.
    Refresh your memory on what you have written by re-reading your personal statement. Make sure that you really do know about anything to which you have referred in the statement. Tutors will very often ask questions about what you have written on the personal statement, so look at it as an opportunity to conduct part of the discussion on your terms.
  • Interview format.
    Make sure you know what to expect. Interviews may be with one or two admissions tutors. They could be a group interview. They may involve written, performance tests or auditions. You may be asked to bring a portfolio of recent work.
  • Practise.
    Some teachers offer practice interviews. These can help you to develop confidence in your interview performance, but don’t panic if the experience is different to what you practised. It is a very individual format, after all.

Advice for the day

  • Allow your interviewers to see how interested you are in the subject.
  • Take a copy of your personal statement for reference.
  • Listen carefully to questions and answer what’s asked. It is better to take a moment to think before you answer, rather than rushing.
  • If you don’t understand or don’t know the answer, say so.
  • Feel free to ask your own questions and find out more about the university and course, but don’t ask your interviewers basic information that is easily available in the prospectus or website.
  • Enjoy your day, explore the university, city/town and area.

TIPS FOR THE DAY

  • Relax. It’s also your opportunity to find out more about the university.
  • How you come across is as important as what you say.
  • Essential attributes are interest, enthusiasm and confidence. Don’t look bored!
  • Take a copy of your personal statement for reference.
  • Listen carefully to questions and answer what’s asked.
  • If you don’t understand or don’t know the answer, say so.
  • If you feel you’ve answered badly, forget about it and carry on.
  • Ask your own questions, find out more about the university and course (as long as it hasn’t been covered).
  • Enjoy your day, explore the university, city/town and area.

Interviews

The great majority of British universities do not conduct interviews for most of their courses. Interviews are used, however for a range of courses that are particularly demanding (most famously, medicine), and for some courses where the way in which a graduate speaks or presents themselves is particularly important (for instance, education http://www.education.brookes.ac.uk/Studying/Routes-into-teaching/Teaching-course-interviews/). The exceptions are Oxford and Cambridge, which conduct admissions interviews as part of their general undergraduate admissions process. These are particularly competitive, and tutors need to have an extra source of information beyond the UCAS form to identify the candidates who are best-suited to their particular teaching systems. Because of this, however, a lot of unhelpful mythology has grown up around interviews. Remember that universities are simply looking to recruit the best students that they can. There are no hidden agendas beyond that, and no trick questions. Your interviewers expect you to be stressed and nervous. You aren’t on trial.

The most important thing is to know your stuff. Remember that tutors are looking for students who are enthusiastic, hard-working, and knowledgeable. The best way to show all these qualities is to read carefully around the subject in advance. Do this carefully and critically, so that you can say not only what you’ve been reading, but whether you agreed with the author, and why. Ask for advice from your teachers about what you could usefully be reading. Some universities publish lists of recommended first year reading online. If you have read a piece or two of that literature, and have your own opinions on it, an interviewer is likely to be impressed! You should never, however, claim to have read something that you haven’t. It won’t take your interviewers long to figure that out.

 

Whatever the result, try to enjoy the day. Even if you aren’t admitted, this is an opportunity to discuss an interesting subject with some experts, and might even give you some good ideas to think about in the run-up to your examinations.

How to Prepare

  • Know where you’re going. Plan your route. Arriving late doesn’t make a good impression and you may even miss your slot.
  • If in doubt, check whether to wear casual or smart dress. Aim to look smart and be comfortable, but don’t worry. You aren’t being assessed on your appearance.
  • Research the university and course.
    Check prospectuses, course leaflets and websites. Departmental web pages should give an idea of the course structure, topics, modules you can choose and work placements (if relevant). Some websites also have student profiles, so you can find out what current students think of the course.
  • Current affairs.
    Keep up to date, especially with developments in your chosen area of study. Read relevant articles in newspapers, magazines, journals and websites. Look out for radio, TV programmes and documentaries, and take good notes on them.
  • Personal statement.
    Refresh your memory on what you have written by re-reading your personal statement. Make sure that you really do know about anything to which you have referred in the statement. Tutors will very often ask questions about what you have written on the personal statement, so look at it as an opportunity to conduct part of the discussion on your terms.
  • Interview format.
    Make sure you know what to expect. Interviews may be with one or two admissions tutors. They could be a group interview. They may involve written, performance tests or auditions. You may be asked to bring a portfolio of recent work.
  • Practise.
    Some teachers offer practice interviews. These can help you to develop confidence in your interview performance, but don’t panic if the experience is different to what you practised. It is a very individual format, after all.

Advice for the day

  • Allow your interviewers to see how interested you are in the subject.
  • Take a copy of your personal statement for reference.
  • Listen carefully to questions and answer what’s asked. It is better to take a moment to think before you answer, rather than rushing.
  • If you don’t understand or don’t know the answer, say so.
  • Feel free to ask your own questions and find out more about the university and course, but don’t ask your interviewers basic information that is easily available in the prospectus or website.
  • Enjoy your day, explore the university, city/town and area.

TIPS FOR THE DAY

  • Relax. It’s also your opportunity to find out more about the university.
  • How you come across is as important as what you say.
  • Essential attributes are interest, enthusiasm and confidence. Don’t look bored!
  • Take a copy of your personal statement for reference.
  • Listen carefully to questions and answer what’s asked.
  • If you don’t understand or don’t know the answer, say so.
  • If you feel you’ve answered badly, forget about it and carry on.
  • Ask your own questions, find out more about the university and course (as long as it hasn’t been covered).
  • Enjoy your day, explore the university, city/town and area.
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