Top 8 Tips for an Oxbridge Interview

3 min read

After you’ve shown your best side in your personal statement, and studied hard to ace the admissions test, if you’re one of the lucky few you’ll be invited to interview. Congratulations; that’s already a huge achievement! The interview is the last step to getting an offer to study at Oxford or Cambridge University. How can you make sure you do your best to give yourself the best chance? How to prepare for the Oxbridge interview? Keep reading our Oxbridge interview guide for the top 8 Oxbridge Interview tips.

How to prepare for the Oxbridge Interview?

1. Oxbridge interview tip: Stay Calm

At an Oxbridge interview, the tutors just want an opportunity to meet you and learn a bit about you. They won’t try to trip you up and they’ll understand that you’re nervous, but if you can show your best side and your intelligence then you maximise your chances of achieving an offer. If you come across as comfortable and confident then you’re more likely to impress the tutors. How to prepare for the Oxbridge interview? Our Oxbridge interview advice is that if you can practice an interview-type scenario with a teacher or tutor this will help with staying calm when you come to the real thing.

2. Oxbridge interview tip: Reread your personal statement

The tutors will more than likely start your Oxbridge interview by asking a few questions about things you mentioned in your personal statement. As such, it is very important to make sure you know what you’ve put on your personal statement and be able to talk about it which you can do with the help of our Oxbridge interview guide. If you mentioned a book you read, be sure to know what the plot or thesis of the book was. Our Oxbridge interview advice is that if you mentioned work experience, be clear about what you did and what you learnt from it and that you can answer questions about it.

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3. Oxbridge interview tip: Don’t worry about what you wear

For my interview, I spent a long time worrying about whether or not to wear a suit. Looking back, this was incredibly silly, as: 

1) What I was wearing had no bearing on how well I could answer the questions I was asked, 2) my suit didn’t fit very well and I would have looked better in almost any of the other clothes I owned, and 

3) Many people in Oxford and Cambridge cycle to work, including one of the tutors who interviewed me, and they dress in clothes they can cycle in, so if anything I might have been overdressed! 

In the end, I opted to wear my suit for one of my interviews and a shirt and jeans for the other two, and it was clearly good enough. With that said, our Oxbridge interview advice is that you wear something that makes you feel confident, smart, and, most importantly, comfortable, whatever that may be.

4. Oxbridge interview tip: Show your passion

Studying at Oxbridge is hard, but rewarding. You spend many hours a day learning about your chosen subject from some of the most renowned academics in the world. You need to show that you’re up to the task, and for that, you need to have a real passion and drive to learn your subject with the help of our Oxbridge interview guide.

Make sure you can explain in your interview why your subject is important to you and why you’re good at it. Also, in Oxbridge, you will have at least one weekly tutorial with your tutors discussing your subject. How to prepare for the Oxbridge interview? Our Oxbridge interview advice is that if you can convince them that that will be interesting for them as well, they are more likely to make you an offer to study with them.

5. Oxbridge interview tip: Practice talking to people about your subject

This may sound strange, but talking about your subject is a skill which not everyone has, but which you can practice with the help of our Oxbridge interview guide. You will more than likely, in the course of explaining a subject to someone, iron out details you weren’t initially completely sure about, and find the things you really find interesting and want to learn more about, which will show the tutors interviewing you that you deserve a place at Oxbridge. How to prepare for the Oxbridge interview? Our Oxbridge interview advice is to try to organise a mock interview with one of your teachers or a private tutor.

6. Oxbridge interview tip: Watch recordings of Oxbridge interviews

It can be very difficult to know what to expect at your Oxbridge interview, as with many things about Oxbridge, the interviews almost seem shrouded in mystery. Fortunately, several colleges from both Oxford and Cambridge have uploaded videos of mock interviews, with real interview questions, for a variety of subjects, to youtube. How to prepare for the Oxbridge interview? Our Oxbridge interview advice is to watch these for your subject or a subject similar to yours to get an idea of how the interview will go. While you’re there you can check out the many videos by both Oxbridge tutors and students. 

7. Oxbridge interview tip: Be honest

An Oxbridge interview is supposed to measure your intelligence and your personality, not your knowledge. So, if you don’t know something, admit it. Even if you try to pretend to know, remember that you’re talking to world-leading experts in the subject, so they will see right through you. Not knowing something is not a problem, however, if anything, it’s the point which can be overcome with the help of our Oxbridge interview guide. The tutors interviewing you will ask you a question and keep exploring the concept until you reach something you haven’t learnt, at which point they will be able to see how quickly you can learn and more importantly apply your knowledge of a new concept.

To quote Socrates: ‘I know that I know nothing.’ What Socrates meant by this motto was that the most important thing to be able to learn is to always be humble and willing to learn more. The style of teaching employed in Oxbridge tutorials is often known as the Socratic method, so our Oxbridge interview advice is to perhaps listen to Socrates.

8. Oxbridge interview tip: Enjoy it!

Whatever happens in your interview, just getting there was an amazing achievement you should be proud of for life. You will also be able to spend a few nights, free of charge, in an Oxbridge college, all of which are stunning and to meet world-leading academics in the subject you love. How to prepare for the Oxbridge interview? Our Oxbridge interview advice is that you do the best you can- following all our Oxbridge interview guide above will ensure you do- and enjoy the experience and learn from it. So best of luck to you!

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