Unfortunately, not many university courses interview their applicants. However, some still do and this certainly applies to all Medical and Veterinary courses and all courses at Oxford and Cambridge Universities.
Naturally, all performance courses will interview or audition. Aside from this it is a mixed picture – some courses at some universities will still interview so it is worth checking the admissions process to see if this might affect you.
Certainly, if a course does interview then it might be worth considering this visit instead of an additional open day trip – it will save you time and money.
Sometimes a university will require an applicant to attend a specific open day in order to be given the offer of a place. These ‘open days’ are, in effect, compulsory – unless you have an exceptional reason about which the applicant must write to the university at the time. These events may involve a group discussion – even a short, individual meeting or interview.
De-selection prior to interview
Typically, universities de-select prior to interview in order to be as sure as they can be that all their interviewees are realistic candidates for their courses. Oxford University will de-select a third or even more applicants based on their performance in the aptitude tests for example. Many medical courses will score the applicants based on their prior examination results, their personal statement and their reference (the latter providing only a small proportion of the ‘points’ in the process).
When you get an interview
If you succeed in getting an interview you must treat it seriously – there is everything to play for. You will be given interview preparation in the school with our own staff and external experts, if they are available. However, on the day you will need to be calm and respond positively to the opportunity presented to you.
You will often be asked questions that you could not have prepared for directly. In fact, this is the norm. There may be no ‘right’ answer to the questions and you should aim to stand up for your view points in discussion whilst also being honest about the limits of your knowledge.
Interviews are generally about establishing the ‘real you’ beyond the application form. They seek to find out how you respond to being challenged and whether you can think for yourself and in a manner that will dove-tail with the ways of teaching within the particular university.