Cambridge Psychological and Behavioural Sciences: Tips & Questions for Interview

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Have a Psychological and Behavioural Sciences interview at Cambridge but unsure what to expect? Don’t worry! We have spoken to top performing candidates, giving you the tips to help smash your interview!

This article will help you prepare for your Cambridge Psychological and Behavioural Sciences interview. It covers what to expect on the day and lists previous interview questions so know what to expect.

studying at Cambridge
Studying Psychological and Behavioural Sciences at Cambridge may seem daunting at first, but this article contains key bits of advice to help guide you!

What is the Cambridge Psychological and Behavioural Sciences interview structure?

Most candidates have 2 interviews that each last around 25 minutes in length. Some candidates get “pooled” to a second round of interviews at another college. This means you could have up to 4 interviews over a few days! Interviews take place in December.

Cambridge university interviews
Psychological and Behavioural Sciences at Cambridge University interviews may be held virtually
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Example Past Questions from Cambridge Psychological and Behavioural Sciences interviews

General questions:

  • Why do you want to study Psychological and Behavioural Sciences at Cambridge?
  • Questions on why I talked about X in personal statement 
  • What is it about the Psychological and Behavioural Sciences that most excites you?
  • What skills would make you suited to be a successful student at Cambridge?
  • Why this college?
  • Why Cambridge University?
  • What can you contribute to college life?
  • Discussion on my EPQ topic (if done)
  • Discussion of my future plans for study and career
  • Why should we give you an offer to study Psychological and Behavioural Sciences at Cambridge?
  • Summarise a book mentioned in my personal statement and my opinion of it

Cambridge Psychological and Behavioural Sciences interview questions:

  • In my first interview, tutors showed me data, graphs, videos, puzzles, and asked me to work through them. The second was quite different – mainly focusing on psychological studies with the interview asking multiple follow up questions.
  • First we spoke about my personal statement, and what I am studying in school. We then talked about my motivations for studying Psychology, before analysing some graphs (which were not related to Psychology), before discussing/interpreting them.
  • My first was heavily focused on research methods and statistics – I had various graphs and they asked me to interpret them. They often asked me to relate them to real life situations. We then spoke about my personal statement and EPQ, before finishing with some theoretical questions that I could apply my knowledge to. 
  • My second interview felt more relaxed. I had an article to read beforehand, and we started evaluating the methods the researchers used. We then looked at some more research scenarios and I was asked to interpret the aims/identify the variables etc. Finally, they asked me to design my own experiment with a couple of props in front of me – this was very interesting!
  • My interview was quite technical. First I had a passage to read and make notes 15 minutes before the interview (which included the introduction, method and results). In the interview, the admissions tutors asked me what I thought the experiment was trying to find out and what some words in the passage meant. In the passage were some graphs with the experiment results, and they asked me why the results looked like they did, and any criticisms I may have of the study.

Example Interview Questions

  • (Document to read first). Why was the experiment done? What was good and what could be improved in the experiment?
  • How can you design an experiment to see if something is addictive?
  • How come a painting by a four year old of “a tiger amongst tulips” (as described by the child) doesn’t look like a tiger despite the child studying a tiger at the zoo the day before and being satisfied with the outcome?
  • How would you conceptualise an emotion?
  • Does the colour of the room you are sitting in affect your mood?
  • How could you design an experiment to see if babies can recognise faces / if faces are special compared to other objects
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    What do you have to bring to your Cambridge Psychological and Behavioural Sciences Interview?

    Whatever you feel most comfortable in! The interviewers do not care what you wear, they want to get to know you! I went with casual clothes (hoodie and jeans), and the interviews did the same!

    I would also recommend bringing a pen, paper and bottle of water – just in case you need them during the interview!

    When are Cambridge Psychological and Behavioural Sciences Interviews held?

    According to Cambridge University, interviews typically take place during the first three weeks of December, with a small number of candidates interviewing in January. Most candidates are interviewed over a period of 2-3 days, but if you get pooled for another round of interviews then this period could be even longer.

    Tutors then make a decision based on the performance of the applications, and the university sends offers to candidates in mid January.

    What if my technology cuts out during the interview?

    The interviewers will be used to technology not always working perfectly so do not worry – your interview score will not be affected. Try to remain calm, fix the issue yourself, and notify someone as soon as possible if the issue persists. 

    What are the Cambridge Psychological and Behavioural Sciences interviewers like?

    My interview experience was very positive!

    I was very nervous before the interview, however as soon as I joined the call, the interviewers quickly put me at ease with smalltalk – they were both very friendly! There were a couple of times during the interview that I was a bit stuck, and the interviews were very understanding – they gave me time to think through my answer, and clarified and repeated any questions I needed. They really want you to do your best so don’t worry about taking your time to structure your answer or asking them to repeat themselves!

    Overall, it really felt like they just wanted to get to know more about me and my thought process – it felt like a friendly conversation rather than a scary interview!

    Cambridge Psychological and Behavioural Sciences course
    Students reading Psychological and Behavioural Sciences at Cambridge will typically have 2 tutorials a week with 0-3 other students and a tutor

    Cambridge Psychological and Behavioural Sciences Interview tips?

    Relax beforehand! There is no point stressing the night before, spending all night revising and cramming. This will just make you more stressed and more tired. Get a good night’s sleep and try to relax before the interview starts. 

    Double check you are prepared beforehand! Such as making sure you are happy using all the technology, and that you have everything you may need during the interview (such as pens, paper and water).

    Make sure to read up on your A-Level notes beforehand, as well as doing extra reading. Many candidates have been asked to analyse extracts containing various experiments. Try to read some, and ask yourself why the researcher conducted the experiment the way they did, and how reliable the results are.

    Tips for the Cambridge Psychological and Behavioural Sciences interview itself?  

    1. Try to stay calm! It is totally normal to be nervous – take time to think, structure your answer, and try your best!
    2. Do not panic if you do not immediately know the answerCambridge University states interviewers want to see how you think and apply your current knowledge, rather than just assessing your final answer. Try to vocalise your thought process!
    3. Mock interviews help! Try to practise speaking out loud and on the spot with someone else beforehand!
    4. Show your passion for their subject! Remember to be smiley, be enthusiastic and practise positive body language!
    5. Know your personal statement and re-read submitted work (if applicable)! Interviewers often like asking questions about areas in your submitted work/personal statement – so look over them!
    6. Enjoy the experience! Being invited to an interview is an achievement in itself, and see this as an opportunity to discuss your interest with leading academics in the field!
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