As November nears its end, some applicants may have already received interview invitations from their respective colleges and universities. After getting over the initial excitement, the nervousness will set in and the big question will be – what can I do to prepare?
Aside from googling Oxbridge Interviews and printing out all the questions the tutors may possibly ask you around the subject, the main thing to focus on is to understand why they interview. What is it they are looking for and why must you cross this extra hurdle – could they have not just accepted you by now like all the other universities?
Interviews are primarily for interviewing experts / tutors, who have interviewed countless others before, to “know you better” – to know how you think, how you express yourself, are you teachable, would they like to spend hours each week with you (as they will be if they take you on) – anything they could not have gotten off your paperwork so far.
As the age-old advice of interviews has been to “be yourself” there is truth in the matter – don’t be afraid – there are probably thoughts you are too scared to voice but as long as they are organized, structured thoughts and said in a way which is relevant to the subject, there is no reason not to tell them – they could well be right, and even if they aren’t, if they are backed up by logical reasoning, there is no faulting you on the matter. You may even present a unique perspective that might impress the interviewer.
When answering a question, it is also good to consider all options and then pick a path stating your reason. This shows you have thought around the matter before diving in. Take hintsfrom the interviewer if he prompts you down another path as he is there not to disable you but to lead and teach you, almost like a real-life tutorial. And don’t beat yourself up in the interview if you did go down an alternative route because those are certainly forgivable by interviewer’s standards – the questions asked are designed to stretch and challenge you and it would be very surprising to arrive at the answer straight-away, if there even is a correct answer. The interviewer’s main objective is to see how you think and explain your way through.
Now that you know what the main objective is, to prepare you have to practice these elements – practice answering hard questions and thinking them through out loud, practice writing your answers on a whiteboard in front of someone you hardly know and see if they get it, practice your interview techniques so that they don’t hinder the communication – namely to make eye contact, speak fluently and clearly, good body posture, hand gestures – and make the ‘mock’ situation as realistic for yourself so you can get used to ‘feeling the nerves’ and still act normal despite them. Grab a teacher you don’t know and try – because as a wise person once said “perfect practice makes perfect”.
And if you can’t find anyone, look us up to help by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. We have interview and subject matter experts to give you mock interviews and coaching. They have all been right where you are now and interviewed for your subject at your university in the past – who better to give you a mock.