10 Tips to Preparing For Your University Interview
Preparing for a University Interview: Our Top 10 Tips
Not every university conducts interviews for their undergraduate courses. In fact, those that do are in the minority. But if you get asked to an interview, what should you do?
1. Relax by preparing
Panicking isn’t productive. Nerves are to be expected. Happily, you are already taking one step to combat those nerves: preparation. If you do your prep and find out as much as you can about the interview beforehand, it will help assuage some of those worries.
2. Knowing what to expect from the interview
It really helps to know what the interview is going to involve. Reading our other articles about your subject area(s) is a good start. Most universities will have comprehensive information and videos on what to expect at your interview.
If you are asked to an interview, most universities will usually supply some information as to what it will involve. If they don’t, there is no harm in asking.
3. Practise the obvious interview questions
You can’t predict every question, but there are some obvious ones they’ll likely ask: why study (your discipline)? Why do you want to come to this university?
There’s no need to memorise an answer to these – simply have a good think about how you would respond. You can get your friends/teacher/parents to fire questions at you too if that helps.
4. Practise talking about your discipline
It sounds staggeringly straightforward, but actually talking and answering questions about your discipline relevant current affairs with your friends, teachers or family can be really helpful.
Practise expressing your ideas and opinions; it might be worth getting someone you don’t know very well, like a teacher, to give you a practice interview.
5. Don’t over-rehearse your interview answers
Practice makes perfect, right? Well, not really. If you’ve spent hours and hours memorising answers and over-preparing, you will likely appear too rehearsed or stilted at interview.
Most interviewers want to see how you think, what makes you tick and also get to know you a bit better. They want you to respond and engage, not spout off pre-rehearsed speeches.
6. Read around your subjects and find out about current issues
You will be expected to demonstrate an interest and aptitude for your subject(s). Don’t panic and bulk buy books on the subject, but do make sure you have a good understanding of its foundations.
It’s worth picking out a couple of areas that interest you (and are part of the course syllabus) and reading up on them. Most of the time, the interviewers will want to see how you apply your existing knowledge to unfamiliar situations.
It’s really important that you’re aware of topical issues and developments related to the subject. Consult the university, past/present students, your teacher(s) etc. for possible sources.
7. Research the university, department and course
While most specific subject courses are, by their very nature, pretty similar when it comes to content, there are some differences university to university. See if you can pick out what makes this course and department different and why that appeals to you. The easiest way to do this is by scouring their website.
8. Read over your personal statement
Odds on the interview panel will refer to your personal statement at some point in the interview. Think about how you might expand on what you wrote in your personal statement or respond to questions on the information you provided.
9. Ask questions
There’s nothing worse than coming to the end of the interview and having a total mind blank when they ask, “Do you have any questions?” There’s a very simple way to get round that: write down the questions you want to ask before the interview.
These should be questions you can’t easily find out via the prospectus or online. If all your questions have already been covered in the interview, say so; there’s no point asking questions just for the sake of it.
10. Be yourself
It’s a huge cliché, but it’s worth repeating again and again. It’s ok to relax in an interview – in fact, university interviews are intended to be a conversation between you and one or two lecturers. They aren’t designed to grill you or catch you out.