1) Reading about interviews isn't a substitute for subject preperation. Read them for guidance but remember to do the work and know your subject materials.

2) Someone else's experience will not necessarily reflect your own. Most interviews are more like conversations than tests and, like any conversation, they can be highly personal.

Human, Social and Political Science | Fitzwilliam College | 2017

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Interview details

Application outcome: Succesful - Direct offer
Interview type: Pre-Christmas Interview

Interview format

2 x 30 minutes interviews. Each had 2 interviewers. First about pre-reading extract. Second mainly personal statement.

Interview content

Interviews were like a friendly discussion. First was about a sociology study. Secon was politics orientated.

Advice in hindsight

Interview was less intense than expected but prepare for a grilling. Academic interest is more important than extra-curriculars.

Best preparation

Reading on sociological theories, research methods, and topical politocal theories. 'Very Short Introductions' and 'Thoughtco.som'.

Final thoughts

They are looking for people they wat to teach and share their passion for a subject.

Something missing?

1) Reading about interviews isn't a substitute for knowledge. Read them for guidance but remember to do the work and know your subject materials.

2) Someone else's experience will not necessarily reflect your own. Most interviews are more like conversations than tests and like, any conversation, they can be highly personal.

The Cambridge application has changed in recent years to reflect the new A-Level system. Check the official Cambridge website for more accurate information on this year's application format and the required tests. Remember this advice isn't official and there is no guarantee it will reflect your experience.

Read our subject resource guide for Human, Social and Political Science. Keep an eye out for new interviews, we are adding them daily.

Interview Format​

I had 2 interviews with 2 interviewers in each interview. The first interview was with the Director of Studies and a Fellow of the college and was based on an extract that I read 30 minutes beforehand, whereas the second was mostly based on my personal statement but I was shown some data during the interview and asked to comment on it. I had around 2 hours between first and second interview.

Interview content

All of the first interview was based on the extract I had read, which was a sociological study, with quite general questions at first about the style of the study before asking some slightly more challenging and specific sociological questions. I had to use my imagination to extend the ideas we talked about into new areas I hadn't thought about before.

The second interview felt easier because it was more of a discussion of some things I said in my personal statement. One of the interviewers happened to specialise in the topic of an essay I wrote so we talked quite a bit about it. The interview was more politics-oriented. They gave me some information including demographic data and a campaign poster and we discussed them.

Both interviews were more of a friendly discussion, a lot less intense than I had expected!

Advice in hindsight

Even though my interview was a lot less intense than expected I’d still recommend that you prepare for some grilling just to be safe! Setting up mock interviews with a teacher is defo helpful just so that you get used to being interviewed.

Oh yeah, extra curricular generally does not matter as your grade 8 violin or volunteering probably won’t make you stand out from everyone else. What does matter is anything that shows that you’re passionate about your subject and go beyond what is asked at A-Level as proof of your deep interest. Would recommend doing an essay competition or going to public lectures or Cambridge masterclasses.

Remember that your teachers have to submit a reference so don’t waste space talking about your A-Level subjects in your personal statement unless they led you to do some further reading. Leave the interviewer some interesting hints that they can ask you about.

Best preparation

Reading up on key sociological theories as I was able to apply one to the extract-based interview! Also revising research methods and evaluation for the extract-based interview. Look up political theories that relate to topical issues such as populism and analysis of recent political events. Very Short Introductions [Editor's Note: this a book series published by Oxford University Press, and can be found easily online] are amazing! Thoughtco.com is great for the basics of key sociological theories.

Get a notebook and fill it with research and notes relating to everything you mentioned in your personal statement and look over it before your interview!

Final thoughts

Be yourself! As cliche as it sounds, the interviewers are human beings after all so if you’re just your pleasant, smiley self then you’ll come across as a person that they might want to teach for the next 3 years! They love their subject so much that they’ve spent yearsss studying it so they just want to find people who share similar passion!

Image Credits

Image by Akil Hashmi

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