Depending on the degree you want to study and the qualifications you’re applying with, you may be invited to a university interview.
These interviews are usually one of two types: informative or evaluative. Evaluative interviews are usually to gain admission either into a prestigious university, or a highly competitive course, such as medicine.
In both instances, the university is in a position where it can afford to be fussy. That means your performance in the interview will be considered alongside your application.
Informative interviews are exactly that – an opportunity for you to learn about the university and for them to learn about you.
You can be invited to an informative interview for several reasons. Depending on the university and the course, some students will be invited to interviews regardless. Particularly performing arts courses, which may also include an audition.
Commonly informative interviews are an opportunity for the university to understand a little more about a student who perhaps doesn’t have the grades but submitted a strong personal statement.
In a lot of instances, university interviews take on elements of both evaluative and informative interviews. This is to gauge your suitability for the course and the institution.
Below are some of the things you should do ahead of your university interview.
Re-Read your Personal Statement
As with a job interview and your CV, it’s always a good idea to re-read your personal statement.
It’s a document that heavily influences the success of your university application so it is inevitable that your interviewer will refer back to it.
It’s also why it is very important to be honest on your personal statement. If you have made up hobbies, interests or charity work to impress the university, you could easily get caught out.
That’s not to say you should do your research before you lie. Honesty is always the best policy and your lecturers will quickly discover your duplicity once you start your first semester.
Rather, review what you’ve written and take some time to consider what questions they may ask.
These could range from asking about your hobbies, a book you’ve referenced or someone that may have inspired you. Regardless, have some answers to hand.
Re-Read the Course Information
Considering you’re going to all this effort to make it on to the course, you should make sure you fully understand it.
Go over how the course is structured, what the course entails and the entry requirements. This is especially important if you don’t match those entry requirements exactly. Have something prepared to explain how other qualifications or areas of experience make up for any shortfall in grades/UCAS points.
Also, be sure to have something prepared about why you’re so keen to study that course over any other available.
You would also do well to have prepared some questions to ask your interviewer about the course. Questions about specific modules or assigned reading books will all communicate that you know what you’re talking about.
Know your Subject
This is essential if you’re being interviewed for a place on a course you’re supposed to be passionate about. You need to be able to explain to your interviewer why you’re so interested in getting on to their course.
Again, it will help if you’ve studied the prospectus as you will be able to refer to specific modules or areas of study that interest you.
Depending on your area of study there may be research, industry news or similar that you can review. These are likely to come up so having a broader understanding of your area of study would do you credit.
Be Memorable (for the right reasons)
Your interviewer will likely be interviewing a lot of people. All those applicants will be trying just as hard as you to secure a place on the course.
So, standing out from the crowd is important. Think about how you can leave a lasting (and positive) impression.
When interviewers ask you to tell them about yourself, try to be a little imaginative than just the usual ‘life stuff’.
Remember, your objective is to convince them that you are the right person for this course. That aside from your passion and your experience, you have something to offer.
Talk about what excites you about the subject and where you see your degree taking you. Whether that’s a career or further studies at Masters or PhD level.
Outline the qualities you possess and how they will make you a good student and a positive part of the university community.
Being a mature student will also play in your favour. Universities like the life, academic and professional experience mature students bring to seminars. They also like the work ethic they usually bring along too as it often rubs off on their younger peers.
So, if you are returning to education make a point of highlighting all you have achieved and how it will be of benefit in your studies.
Be Polite and Respectful
This is a given but worth stating. Make sure that you are dressed appropriately for your university interview. While university is an informal environment, it is still an interview.
Smart shirts/blouses, formal trousers, or skirts etc. Even if you turn up and your interviewer is dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, they will appreciate that you made the effort.
Similarly, as with a job interview, arrive early. Just because students have a stereotypical image of laziness, doesn’t mean you should embrace it before you’re enrolled.
Turn up in plenty of time. Take some water with you and something to read. It will give a better impression than if the first time your interviewer sees you, you’re staring at your phone, endlessly scrolling through social media.
Finally, be polite. Again, the format is likely to be informal, but you should still mind your manners and watch what you say. Swearing, slang and other informalities – unless in context or quoting – are unacceptable.
Remember, you want your interviewer to remember you for all the positives.
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