Overview of the Interview Process at Oxford and Cambridge
How do I get an interview?
Your grades and UCAS personal statement will play a major part. Ahead of your applications, if you are worried about your academic progress, you may consider hiring a private tutor in Hong Kong to make sure your grades are competitive enough to measure against the high standards. To learn more about how best to shape a personal statement, you can read more [here].
When will the Oxbridge Interview be?
Oxford and Cambridge will release timetables showing when interviews are going to be held for different courses, so it is possible to get an idea from that. In general, Cambridge schedules interviews during mid to late December, sometimes extending to early January.
Oxford is likely to hold interviews mostly in early to mid December.
Can the interview be online or must it be in-person?
Both Oxford and Cambridge prefer to interview in-person, which would usually be at their respective universities in the UK. However, exceptions can be made. Cambridge, for instance, can interview applicants in Hong Kong in-person. Online interviews are also sometimes possible. This must be arranged with the university, and you must check very carefully for the equipment requirements and specific instructions.
What will be covered in the interview?
How many interviews you have to do for Oxford or Cambridge varies on the college and course. Typically, you should expect:
– multiple interviews, with the average being two
– an interview to be 20 to 45 minutes long
– to talk to two interviewers – one will usually take notes, while the other asks the questions, and then they will swap halfway through
The idea with the interviews is to replicate the learning process you will experience at Oxbridge. Here, you can be expected to analyse an article and then talk about it with the interviewers and have further academic discussions. The interviewers are looking for reasoned thinking, use of your existing knowledge, and evidence that you would work well with the Oxbridge teaching method.
The other interview will then likely be more about you, your goals and motivations for studying, and your accomplishments. This will therefore involve reference to your UCAS personal statement. It is important that you know what went into your statement, and that you did not lie or exaggerate here, since it will show if you weren’t telling the truth.
What are the differences between Oxford and Cambridge interviews?
The biggest difference is the schedule: Oxford will aim to interview earlier than Cambridge, so you are likely to have less time to prepare for your Oxford interview. Oxford also does not offer in-person interviews in Hong Kong, so that leaves you with the options of going to the UK or having the interview online.
Generally, both are likely to interview you multiple times and both will use a similar structure.
Can I practise for Oxbridge interviews?
Yes, absolutely! It is impossible to rehearse exactly what you will have to talk about during the interviews, but you can do a lot for preparation. You can familiarise yourself with your UCAS personal statement and practise answering questions about it. You can also read widely in your field and beyond your school content. You can then have direct interview coaching and mock interviews with advisors who can help you develop good answers and build your confidence.
After the interviews, your next concern would probably be meeting the grade requirements for your offer. To make sure you do not miss your offer, you may consider hiring a private tutor in Hong Kong to help you stay on track for the final assessments. For more advice and interview tutoring, contact us here and get assistance from our advisors or A-Level, AP, and IB online tutors.