How to prepare for interviews

Oxford Admissions Tutors
Created: 2 years, 2 months ago
Last modified: 2 years, 1 month ago

We asked Oxford Admissions Tutors how they would advise applicants to prepare for interviews - this is what they said.


Do see the Oxford guidance here. 🔗 See also information from the Jesus College Academic Director 🔗 🌟.
The important thing to remember is that interviewers want you to do well and are striving to get the best out of you! It is not a personality test, although you do need to be prepared to talk!

The interview is like a mini-tutorial and one of the things we are assessing is whether you will do well in tutorials as this is a key element of our teaching. There are no trick questions but some questions may be hard and you may be presented with material or concepts you are unfamiliar with. The tutors will help guide you through the discussion. What we are testing in interviews are your problem-solving skills. You can see mock Jesus interviews (along with lots of other helpful information) here 🔗.

St Edmund Hall

In terms of content, there really is very little that needs to be done in terms of preparation: interviews at Oxford assess students’ ability to apply knowledge, rather than knowledge itself. It’s important to enter an interview in a positive frame of mind, remembering that the interviewers' goal is to draw out the best performance possible from an applicant and that they will form their judgements based on academic considerations (not personality, manners, dress sense or background).


Get a good night’s sleep if possible. It’s usually much more important to be awake and alert than to have anything specific prepared. You should be clear why you want to study your chosen course but don’t memorise a speech – that’s very unconvincing usually. Further in advance of the interview, do grab opportunities (with teachers or friends or your family) to talk about your subject, just to get used to the experience of having a conversation about an academic subject – it doesn’t have to be a formal practice interview.


Talk to people – anyone. Don’t rehearse specific questions – just explain your homework to your granny, talk to the mirror about an article you read, bore your parents about why quantitative easing was a great/terrible idea, explain Decision Maths to your English teacher, converse with your postie about why everyone should read/throw away Wuthering Heights, bark at random strangers about how the Romans invented sewers – okay, maybe not the last one, but the point is we teach verbally quite a bit at Oxford (with small group teaching called tutorials) so we tend to like to see that you enjoy thinking out loud!

That doesn’t mean you need to be brash and loud – just used to testing out ideas by speaking (although for science you might also be drawing/sketching too). You don’t need an authoritative and professional interview technique and we don’t care what you look and sound like – just be ready to chat thoughtfully with tutors that share the same intellectual passions as you.

With thanks to the Admissions Tutors of Jesus, St Edmund Hall, Somerville and Brasenose.