Oxbridge Advice from an Oxbridge Grad

A little bit of Oxbridge interview advice from an Oxford graduaute:

“It’s that time of year. The Oxbridge interviews are almost upon us. Those of you preparing to venture among those lofty spires will be feeling that lurking dread in your stomach. I had it once too. Twice in fact…”

It’s that time of year. The Oxbridge interviews are almost upon us. Those of you preparing to venture among those lofty spires will be feeling that lurking dread in your stomach. I had it once too. Twice in fact. They said no the first time. And what better preparation (or is it procrastination?) than a few tips from people with the inside scoop, widespread and variously qualified as those people are, so here are ours…

1. They are absolutely mad about their subject
When you are obsessed with a band, football club or TV show, and you meet someone else who loves it just as much, think how great it feels, and how much do you want to share your obsession. This is how tutors really feel, but instead of The Wire, it’s deontological ethics.

2. They will not try to catch you out
It’s easy to imagine the interview room as a den of lions wearing spectacles waiting for a mouse, but it is important to remember that they are not looking to trip you up. They don’t want you to look stupid, they want you to look clever, and they will do everything they can to help you do this.

3. They are real human people
I actually thought my future tutor was trying to catch me out by when she misquoted a line from a book, and I called her on it. Oh the terror. Years later I asked her why she could be so mean, only to discover that she’d genuinely got it wrong. Everybody makes mistakes, even Oxford tutors. I mean, hopefully yours won’t…

4. Ignore the myths
If there’s a choice of where to sit – a stool, a hard-backed chair and a comfy sofa – it’s not a test! For God’s sake, take the comfy sofa, who on earth do you think these people are? And that thing about them giving the kid an orange saying “Eat this” and he gives it back and says “Peel it first”, then gets in…your place at Cambridge is not decided using fruit.

4. Don’t say what you think they want to hear, say what you actually think
Because, of course, what you actually think is what the actually want to hear. They want to know they can sit in a room with you for an hour every week and have a lively discussion that both of you are going to draw from. They don’t want someone who thinks they know everything, just as, they should hope, neither will you.

Finally and most importantly, remember, every interview will be different – whatever you read, these tips included, is just advice, not gospel. Far more important is your own preparation, so familiarise yourself with what you wrote on your personal statement (because that will likely be their starting point) and be ready to have something genuine and interesting to say!

Good luck to you all and let us know any of your interview related stories by tweeting us @ForesightLive or contacting us via the website!