The University Interview

University interviews

If you are asked to attend a University interview don’t look at it with horror, think of it as your foot in the door. You’ve done it - You’ve impressed someone enough to get your statement to the desk and not in the bin! Naturally it’s going to be daunting but this is your chance to show you have what it takes.

Prepare. Study the university course guide, look back over what you’ve done at A-level or other relevant qualifications and revise like you would an exam. Make sure you are an expert and while studying write down areas you’re not so confident in.

Knowing your weaknesses can be your strength. It’s likely you’ll be asked what your weaknesses are and this can work just as well in your favour. It might feel odd listing the odds against you, but simply adding “an area I’d like to work on” or “I’m not as sharp as I know I’m capable of at…” demonstrates a commitment you’re going to make in the area and separates you from the know it all waiting outside for their interview.

Speaking of waiting outside – think time! Can you rely on traffic working well enough to get you there? Is it worth booking a hotel or looking up an Air B&B? Set your watch half an hour early. You might be bored but it gives you 20 minutes to linger elsewhere and still arrive 10 minutes early. It will show you’re committed and won’t take up too much of their time either. If you are going to be late, add an extra 5-10 minutes to your planned arrival time, nothing looks worse than” I’ll be there in 5 minutes” and a minute later “sorry make that 10 minutes”…

Look great! As any spy knows it’s less what the disguise is and more the confidence you have in it. If you feel great you look great. Choose nice suit gents, but don’t go overboard on the cufflinks and belt and get a sharp haircut. Looking respectable is a lot easier as smart casual still works just as well as a suit (But no jeans).

Smile - you’re on your way! Expect to be accepted and smile on the outside even if you aren’t on the inside. See the interview as a part of the process and not a dependent factor.

Ask away! Turn the interview on them but test the waters first. Don’t reel of a bunch of questions right away, see if they react with a smile to your first one or two and gauge their body language as an invite to ask more.

Practice with parents, friends or even the cat! Simply selling yourself to the mirror will work, ask what they felt worked well and what you can improve on. This might all seem obvious but so many people fail to prepare and fail to achieve the place that was waiting for them.

Personal tips leading up to the interview. When all plans are made, you’re up to date with the newsletters and you know the course guide back to front then in free time leading up to the interview watch a movie that makes you feel confident, picture yourself as that character and take their charm, don’t act as them but feel the confidence of being them. Body language is key, holding your arms open in private beforehand and making your body as open and upright as possible has a huge effect on both the inside and the outside, think of athletes after winning a race, it’s a natural instinct of success to raise your arms and releases the same confidence inspiring endorphins as winning!

Interviews are usually conducted on tight entrance courses or the more prestigious universities. There’s nothing wrong with failing an interview, you might have been lucky to get it in the first place, but don’t be afraid to ask for feedback from the person interviewing you, as this will help with the next interview or round and just might get you more than you bargained for just for looking so keen.