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Oxbridge Interviews—Things to Keep in Mind


Everyone is in the same boat

The imposing world-renowned academics on the other end of your Zoom call will likely seem rather daunting. They may even have a tricky initial question up their sleeves which they ask you. Don’t worry and try not to be overwhelmed. All applicants will be feeling the same nerves, have had an equally poor night’s sleep and be receiving similarly difficult questions. All you can do is focus on yourself and what you know.


Tutors want to see your passion

As scary or friendly as your interviewers are, these are people who have devoted their lives to studying your subject.  You must prove to them you want to spend three or four years of your life pursuing it diligently alongside them. They also want to give offers to people they would be happy to teach for several hours each week so show your enthusiasm and strut your stuff.


Some of it remains a mystery

Nobody really knows how each College and Faculty organises their interviewees. Some applicants Interview at one college, some at four or five. If you get “pooled” or sent to other colleges, it’s still quite possible you will receive an offer from your original choice. Similarly, if you don’t get pooled it doesn’t necessarily mean you weren’t good enough – perhaps the tutors were so impressed that they didn’t feel the need to send you elsewhere.

Ways to Boost Your Confidence


Focus on yourself and what you know

I said it above but I’ll say it again as I think this is really important. All applicants will have different Personal Statements, and all will have areas of their subject they are comfortable with and those they are less confident on. Try not to be thrown by a question about a poet you’ve never read or a concept you’re not familiar with. The tutors want to get the best out of you in 20-30 minutes so do your best to shine when questions are asked that you can show your ability and knowledge in response to.


Practise, practise, practise …

It may be obvious but this will help a lot! Have a go at speaking your thoughts aloud. Re-read your Personal Statement and think about how you will build on the things you’ve mentioned if they are mentioned. Finally, schedule Mock Interviews with a subject specialist if you can — take a look at the our website for ideas.


Invest yourself beyond your Personal Statement

It’s likely that you have read widely and have some brilliant content to discuss on your Personal Statement. However, it’s always nice to have a few extra things at your disposal to discuss with your interviewers. It’s quite possible that they will ask you to speak about something not on your Statement – use the time leading up to the Interviews to get further stuck into your subject!

Come what may, don’t give up and try your best in each Interview.

— Joss King, recent graduate of Worcester College, Oxford