Dealing with nerves at interview

InsideUni Team
Created: 2 years, 1 month ago
Last modified: 2 years, 1 month ago

Going to an Oxbridge interview - while a massive achievement - can seem really intimidating. If you feel worried or nervous, then you are definitely not alone! To help, we’ve compiled some of the best advice from real Oxbridge applicants who went to interview on how they coped with stress and anxiety on the day.

“I think that having the mindset that the interview is not designed to break you through scrutiny, but give you the opportunity to sort of show off your knowledge and passion for your subject helped me be less nervous… see it as a discussion where you don't have to give the perfect answer but can offer what you know/think and then discuss and explore it further with the interviewer offering their opinions and ideas as well that will help stimulate more from you.“ - History at Jesus College, Oxford 🔗

“The interviewers are looking for you to work with them through a problem, they are not expecting you to get everything right so as long as you communicate with them through the interview and tell them your thought process, you're doing the right thing! It will most likely be a stressful time but once it's over you'll be able to look back at it and think that it wasn't as bad as you thought it was going to be!” - Natural Sciences (Biological) at Downing College, Cambridge 🔗

“Whilst I was nervous for my interviews the tutors were really welcoming and I ended up actually enjoying them. The interview is much more like a conversation/discussion and as long as you don’t panic and have ideas and opinions to discuss it can be quite enjoyable!” - History at St Catharine’s College, Oxford 🔗

“Definitely don’t prepare what you’re going to say as such, but if there are some things from your application you think they may ask about then maybe have a think about a few points you could mention. Don’t script what you’re going to say, but having some ideas ready can help you feel a little less nervous.” -
Natural Sciences (Biological) at Newnham College, Cambridge 🔗

“If you panic, don’t overstress about how you could have done better if you had kept calm. Remember these tutors are very experienced in their job of selecting proficient students and they can clearly understand you have the ability to perform better in usual circumstances.” - Engineering Science at St Hugh’s College, Oxford 🔗

“First and foremost: Don't panic!! I know it is easier said than done, but the fact that you are even considering Oxbridge probably means that you are someone special and you have every chance… remember you are not applying to Oxford because you know everything already, you are applying to university so that they can teach you what you need to know. All you need to show is that you are passionate, capable and willing to learn, and you'll do great!” - Classics at Jesus College, Oxford 🔗

“I was absolutely convinced I would never get in (I fell off a chair in one of them, why would Cambridge ever accept such an idiot?!) but here I am! I would also say to try not to overthink during the interview. It's okay to have pauses, it's natural for your mind to go blank in such a stressful situation. At the end of the day they're trying to draw the best out of you, not prove you wrong, so work with them!” - Modern and Medieval Languages at Trinity College, Cambridge 🔗

If you would like to read the accounts of Oxbridge applicants in full, we have thousands of testimonials in the ‘Interviews’ section 🔗 🌟 of our website. You can find out more about the interview and how to prepare an Oxbridge application here 🔗. The Cambridge University YouTube channel has a video 🔗 about the interview process, and you can find a video about Oxford interviews here 🔗 (produced by St Edmund Hall, an Oxford College).

Good luck!