It’s around this time of year that you may have been invited to an interview from one or more of your university choices. Not all courses invite candidates for interviews but they’re often required for popular courses where there are large numbers of high quality applicants and/or where the course requires a high degree of ‘people skills’ for success. The likelihood of an interview being part of the selection process will be reflected in a course’s advice on applying, which will be available on the relevant university’s website. For example, Bristol’s Undergraduate Admissions Statements are available here
Getting invited to interview is a great achievement in itself – it means that the admissions tutors are impressed with your application and are seriously considering making you an offer. If you have been invited for an interview, or you know that one or more of your course choices uses interviews as part of the selection process, here are some tips on what to expect and how to prepare:
- Remember that the interview is not only the university’s opportunity to assess your suitability but also a chance for you to decide if it’s the right choice for you. Use the interview day as an opportunity to explore the university and surrounding area – can you picture yourself studying and living there?
- Interviewers are not there to catch you out or make you nervous – they’ll be genuinely interested in you and your potential to succeed on their course. Research as much as you can about the course content, the department and the university to show the interviewers your interest and commitment.
- Make sure you re-familiarise yourself with your personal statement and prepare for generic questions such as ‘why did you apply to this university?’ and ‘why do you want to study this particular course?’
- Interviewers are likely to be seeing several candidates so don’t expect to spend a long time with them. To make a good impression within a limited time, think about the qualities you have to offer that you feel make you stand out from the competition. If you’ve done relevant work experience, read widely around your subject or have won awards or accolades, make sure you use the opportunity to highlight this.
- Practice doing a ‘mock interview’ with a parent, teacher or careers adviser. The interview situation can seem unnatural and pressurised so to practise talking about yourself and presenting in a confident manner can be really useful.
- Wear something that is smart but also practical – rehearse sitting down and walking in your outfit to make sure that it remains presentable and comfortable throughout.
- Read your invitation letter or email carefully to ensure that you know where you need to be and when. You may have been asked to bring a piece of work or other documentation so make sure you have these prepared. Arrive at the interview venue in plenty of time so that you don’t feel rushed. This will give you the opportunity to relax and go over some key points before you start.
- Be yourself and be confident in your potential to succeed in the interview and on your chosen course.
Sian Hughes, Assistant Publications Officer, University of Bristol