So, you’re nearly there. In the university application game, the end is in sight, your university place is so close you can practically smell the library books, see the lecture theatre, hear your future course mates. There is just one final step between you and securing that coveted spot on the degree. The interview. For many students this may seem rather nerve-wracking and you certainly wouldn’t be alone if you’d rather swat an entire book of law theory than take on personal questions from experts in the field. But, as intimidating as it may seem, the interview can also be invigorating. Whether you’re looking ahead to undergraduate or postgraduate study, you’re in the right place and reading this blog is the first step to preparing for your university interview.
Remember, the applications team will have invited you to interview for a reason and that reason isn’t so that they can sit there as critical as an X-factor panel planting opportunities for you to fail. The interviewers will be familiar with your grades and they’ll have read your reference and personal statement. They have not invited you to interview blind and, in most cases, will look to create opportunities for you to show that you have the qualities that they’re after. This year, to avoid ongoing COVID-19 infection and travel concerns, many of the interviews will be conducted virtually. You can use this to your advantage by taking comfort in your home environment and having a familiar token or object close by to help centre your thoughts.
It’s cliché but true, investing time to prepare for any kind of interview is vital to presenting yourself in a good light, being able to communicate why you want to be part of the field and avoiding those rabbit-in-the-headlight feelings of panic at any difficult questions. Searching for common interview questions, thinking about your answers and talking to previously interviewed students are all great places to start. Remember to back up what you say with evidence. For example, rather than just saying that you’d like to study Medicine because you have a caring personality, try to back this up with a work placement or school experience. Practicing with a family member, friend or even rehearsing to the household dog can help prepare you to answer a range of interview questions.
As the old saying goes, dress for the position you want, not the position you have. Dressing smart for your university interviews shows consideration, respect and maturity- just some of the qualities that an applications team is looking for. Even if your interview is virtual, switching yesterday’s jumper for an ironed shirt could go a long way.
Familiarise Yourself with Your Personal Statement
Although the university will likely have some generic questions to assess your enthusiasm for the course (the ‘Why this course?’ and ‘Why this university?’ section of the conversation), they will also want to get to know you more personally to see what sets you aside from other candidates. Here enters the personal statement. Before coming into your interview, the examiner will almost certainly have a copy of this to hand, so expect to be questioned about it. This highlights why it’s so important to be truthful in your statement and only include elements that you hope to expand upon. If you’re hoping they won’t ask about that family holiday to Majorca that you twisted as a cultural excursion within the tourism industry, you may be disappointed. On the flip side of this, the interview offers an opportunity to verbally showcase everything that you couldn’t fit into that tight word count. Familiarise yourself with your statement and be prepared to answer questions.
Interviews are A Two-Way Process
Where the lecturers or applications staff want to know more about you to see if you’ll be right for the student body, it also gives you the opportunity to ask them about the course and university. Try to think about some questions in advance that you might want to ask.
And finally… relax. Look at the interview as a way to both showcase your achievements and discuss a subject that you’re interested in with a likeminded individual. Good luck!