Questions about Interviews

When will my interview be?

The interview period is usually late November to mid-December, although it varies slightly from year to year. You'll receive the exact date and time in your invitation to interview, which is sent out during November. If you've been put in the winter pool, you may be contacted by another college and invited for a second interview in January.

How many interviews will I have?

This is dependent on your College and course. Some colleges, such as Selwyn, have a short (approx. 10 min) general interview, which is not directly related to academic content and aims to find out more about you. At Selwyn you will usually have one or two academic interviews with subject specialists. These could be in any order, but you will be informed by the college of the times and who they will be with in advance.

I live a long way from Cambridge – can I have a Skype interview?

Skype interviews are extremely rare and may only be offered in very exceptional circumstances. However, you may be eligible for an overseas interview, which are offered in many locations (and this may be followed up by a Skype interview). Please see the guidance for international students if you think this may apply to you: https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/international-students/overseas-interviews

Will the interviews be on one day? Can I stay in Selwyn during the interviews?

If the interviews are on different days (which is unlikely in Selwyn), or start too early in the day for you to travel in time for your first interview, Selwyn may accommodate you for free, though you will need to apply for this once you receive an invite. You will receive details about this when you are invited to interview. Selwyn will also have areas signposted around college available for interviewees to wait between interviews, as they may be spread throughout the day. There will also be student representatives to speak to and refreshments on offer.

Where can I wait in college during my interviews?

At Selwyn, there will be a room in College used as a waiting area for interviewees. There will usually be current students in there to talk to and ask questions. You can ask at the Porter’s Lodge for directions and they’ll be happy to help.

What will I be asked at interview?

Interviews are designed such that you won’t know what you’ll be asked in advance. We recommend watching this video, which contains some helpful advice and example interviews for various subjects: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dUwN6GI-0EQ

Will the interview be about my personal statement?

Interview styles will vary between both subjects and colleges. Some will focus entirely on academic content but there will usually be time set aside for general interview questions. You should also be prepared to talk about anything you’ve included in your application, but most material is entirely unpredictable.

How can I prepare for interviews?

This will depend on both your college and subject but you will always be told in advance what you will need to bring. This might be a piece of work or some kind of supporting document for your application. You may also want to bring something to do while you wait between your interviews, but there's no expectation you have to work - it's usually busy, so there's a nice atmosphere for chatting with the other interviewees, who won’t all necessarily be from applying to the same subject as you.

Everyone likes to prepare in different ways. We’d recommend that you make sure you understand and remember the content of your application and have a general idea of the course structure. It will also help if you’re aware in advance of what you’ll need to do on the day of the interview, including the travel arrangements. Not having to worry about these things will be very helpful.

The University is not looking for perfection - you don’t need to practise handshakes (you often won’t even get one), and you definitely don’t need to have rehearsed anything to say. Whilst the interview is heavy on academic content, it is about working through the problem or thought process with your interviewer and is not designed to catch you out. If you get stuck, they are on hand to help guide you and won’t leave you sat struggling in silence.

Make sure you are aware if you have an at-interview assessment. Find out here: https://www.undergraduate.study.cam.ac.uk/applying/admission-assessments

What should I wear to interview?

You can wear anything you like! The interviewers are interested in what you know and how you perform academically, so wear whatever you will feel most comfortable in.

What should I bring to interview?

This will depend on both your college and subject but you will always be told in advance what you will need to bring. This might be a piece of work or some kind of supporting document for your application. A copy of your UCAS personal statement and any written work you have submitted (if it's been requested) can be the best things to re-read whilst waiting for interview. - much better than rehearsing prepared answers, which can often seem to be irrelevant to questions posed by interviewers. There's no expectation you have to work between interviews and nobody's going to know either way; it's usually busy, so there's a nice atmosphere for chatting with the other interviewees, who won’t all necessarily be applying to the same subject as you.

Should I bring my parents with me to interview?

You can, but they usually won’t be offered accommodation in college - it is often in short supply and reserved for applicants that require it. It is also typically not possible for parents to sit in the interview with you. However, as always, you should let the College know of any extenuating circumstances.

Do I have to pass the interview to be offered a place?

Your application will be considered holistically - all parts are viewed as a whole and in context. This means that there is no ‘passing’ an interview as such.

When will I hear the outcome of interviews?

Most applicants who were interviewed in December should have heard whether they have an offer, which will be specified, or have been unsuccessful before the end of January.