Oxford Psychology: Tips & Questions for Interview

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In this article we will guide you on how to best prepare for your Oxford Psychology interview. There are guides on past Oxford Psychology questions, interview tips and mock examples. It also includes real experiences from students who have sat the Oxford Psychology panel interview.

What is the Oxford Psychology interview structure?

The interview assesses the applicant’s potential for future development and how they will cope with the course.  Admissions tutors interview all applicants at two separate colleges; firstly, by their “college of preference” and then by a second college to ensure that there are two independent assessments for each applicant.

What are the Oxford Psychology interview dates?

For Psychology, Oxford generally interviews around 3 people for one place. While the dates are not available yet, based on previous years the Oxford Psychology interviews will take place in the second week of December. 

What are the Oxford Psychology Interview offers based on?

According to the Oxford Admission/Selection Criteria, the Oxford Psychology Interview offers are based on:

  1. The interview
  2. Predicted or obtained A-levels or equivalent
  3. GCSEs or equivalent
  4. The academic reference 
  5. The pre-interview admissions test(s) results
  6. Personal statement
  7. Other relevant information. 
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Example Past Questions from Oxford Psychology Interview

  • Discussing a study. ‘Tell us about a study that has inspired you’, which I answered by describing a study I’d learnt about in the Memory topic of Psychology A-Level, and describing its implications for the real world.
  • Data Interpretation. The tutors presented data in ways I hadn’t seen before and asked me to interpret the graphs and what they might mean. At first, I was unsure, but a little prompting from the tutors guided me in the right direction, which allowed me to consider the data in a different way from how I’d been thinking about it previously. 
  • Designing an experiment. I had a hypothesis for a study, and tutors asked me to design an experiment to test this hypothesis. There were follow-up questions asking me to identify the independent and dependent variables, which variables I would control, and any ethical implications I would need to consider. They continued the question by asking how I would change the study to adapt to various changes they posed to the original hypothesis.
  • Should interviews be used for selection?
  • How would you describe emotions?
  • Discussion of an interesting thing you have read about in science
  • Research methods about a specific psychology topic, including links to experiments
  • Questions on Psychology personal statement
  • Less focus on imaginative questions (e.g. describe the colour blue) 
  • What do you enjoy about psychology?

Insider Guides: Oxford Psychology Interview

What happens on the day of your Oxford Psychology interview? 

I had two interviews for Psychology, one with St Hugh’s College and one with Somerville college, though both Oxford Psychology interviews were online due to the pandemic. The university sent me a link to a meeting on Microsoft Teams prior to each Psychology interview. I logged on 5 minutes before it was due to start, and entered the meeting at my allocated time. At the beginning of my interview with St Hugh’s, I was introduced immediately to two tutors, who began the interview. However, with Somerville, I was first introduced to two student volunteers who welcomed me and put me at ease. They answered any questions I had, before leaving and allowing the tutors to join for the real interview to begin.

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    What do you have to bring to your Oxford Psychology interview?

    The university doesn’t ask you to bring anything in particular, but it may help to have stationery (e.g. a pen and paper) just in case. You are not permitted to bring in personal items such as a mobile phone, which you need to make sure is switched off.

    What is the interview setting and how long is it?

    You are invited to two interviews initially, which will take place at two different colleges. The university will share the exact location prior to your interview. You should make sure you know where this is to avoid being late. It is likely that these will be tutor offices, which are small and provide and comforting environment to undertake your interview.

    What are the Oxford Psychology interviewers like? 

    There are often misconceptions about interviews at Oxford, with stern-faced professors that grill you without an inkling of sentiment or emotion. That is not the case! The interviewers are very friendly and make you feel at ease. Remember that they are not trying to trip you up or confuse you. They will often rephrase a question or provide prompts if you are not sure on how to answer. Rather than thinking of it as a formal traditional interview, think of this more as a discussion between like-minded people.

    What are the best tips for planning my trip for my Oxford Psychology interview?

    Depending on where the interviews take place, it is likely that you can stay at the college of your choice, or similar. Wherever you are staying, if you do travel make sure that you leave enough time to get there. The last thing you want to do is to rush and stress about your travel plans the day before your interview! If you are staying for the night before/after your interview, be sure to bring something that will keep you occupied and take your mind off the interview. It is not advised to stay up late the night before cramming!

    Are there any academic or challenging Psychology questions at the Oxford interview?

    As you can imagine with questions on Psychology, the hardest thing was that they were very open-ended. This poses both benefits and complications. Unlike a mathematical question for an engineering interview with a finite answer for example, these questions rely on you to generate a reasoned response and base this on examples or experiences.

    What were the Personal Statement questions like?

    They don’t ask about the Personal Statement in every interview. However, past experience has shown that they may pick out specific parts of your Psychology personal statement and ask you to explain a specific line.

    Top Tips for the Oxford Psychology Interview

    1. Research into psychology. It can be useful to read up on various topics around psychology, including topics in the news and important publications 
    2. Understand research methods. Learn about common research methods, including experiments and statistics 
    3. Have an open mind. Consider alternative perspectives to what you may already know or have learnt about, and have an understanding of how your views could be contradicted or challenged – be open-minded and willing to change your opinions based on new information.
    4. Practise with friends and family. Discuss relevant topics with friends, and get used to talking about your subject. Sounding familiar with what you’re talking about will help you to feel less awkward, and as if you’re in your comfort zone rather than doing something completely unnatural.
    5. Make links. Find ways you can link what you’re saying to your personal life, or things you really care about – when doing a mock interview with my teacher, she told me I seemed most passionate when I linked an area of Social Psychology with the activism I do outside of school, since it’s something I care about deeply and my interest in both subjects are closely intertwined.
    6. Treat the interview as a discussion, more than an interview. The Oxford Psychology Interview is an opportunity for you to chat to some of the most renowned specialists in your field about a subject you both care deeply about – it should also be a unique learning opportunity for you to listen to them speak about the subject too!
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