Oxford Interview: 5 Tips from Oxford Faculty Members

As December grows closer, students around the globe are preparing for their Oxford interviews. If you’re looking to get an upper hand in your quest for Oxford admissions or Cambridge admissions, make sure to check out the Oxbridge Admissions Blog for first-hand accounts from applicants that have already gone through the process.

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Photo by Sidharth Bhatia on Unsplash

One of the tools typically available to students at premiere private schools is a book of written reports by past Oxford applicants from the school. In these reports, students explain how they applied, how they prepared, what their interview was like, and whether they got an offer. Reading dozens or hundreds of such reports gives you an actual information advantage and can help boost your confidence.

This blog will feature content specifically tailored to interested students, looking to gain Oxford admission. In this post, we’ve found 5 key tips from the official Oxford Medium blog:

“Brilliant brains come in whole variety of packages — there isn’t a type. What interviews aren’t about is how you look, how you sound, where you have or haven’t been, or what you’re wearing.’ A steady performance in interview, demonstrating your engagement with the subject, is much more important than trying to do something dramatic to make an impression in the first five seconds.” (Helen Swift, Director of Undergraduate Studies for Modern Languages and a tutor at St Hilda’s College)

“We look for potential wherever we can find it, whether in excellent exam results, a really good performance in an aptitude test, a great reference from a teacher, or interesting submitted written work. A student who’s really good on paper but then underperforms a bit at interview due to nerves is still a really good student, and they might still get a place at Oxford and go on to do really well here.” (Andrew Bell, Senior Tutor at University College)

“Don’t be afraid to think out loud or say something that might be the wrong answer — interesting discussions can happen in almost any context. The worst interviews usually aren’t where candidates get something completely wrong — they’re the ones where they have so little to say that tutors can’t get a genuine sense — positive or negative — of their motivation and ability.” (Andrew King, lecturer in physiology who interviews candidates for medicine)

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Photo by Štefan Štefančík on Unsplash

“We go to great lengths to try and ensure that the interview process gives each candidate the best chance to show their ability, whatever their background. We agree on questions that will provoke interesting discussions, similar to a tutorial setting, and try to make students feel comfortable and at ease. We always start the interview by outlining how it will work and what we expect candidates to do” (Helen Swift, Director of Undergraduate Studies for Modern Languages and a tutor at St Hilda’s College)

“The best way to prepare for an interview is to do more or less the same as you would to prepare for an exam, an aptitude test or a piece of coursework. Make the time in an ongoing way to explore your subject and think hard about its academic challenges. Make sure that you’re on top of your school work and that you have its key components at your fingertips. If your subject is one which requires core skills of, say, languages or maths, then practice those skills diligently. Give yourself new academic challenges which are within your subject but which fall outside your syllabus and use this extension work to increase your experience of your subject and its methods. If you have the opportunity to talk about your subject to a friend, family member or teacher, so much the better, but it’s the ideas you express, not the fluency with which you express them, that matter.” (Andrew Bell, Senior Tutor at University College)

Equalizing the Oxford admissions process one applicant at a time. Browse our free database of insider tips from current and former Oxford applicants.

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