As we barrel towards the end of the year, you might start hearing the ‘I’ word thrown around quite a bit. If you’ve applied for uni and your top choices are interested in taking your application further, you’ll probably have admissions interviews coming up sooner than you’d like.
Or maybe you’ve been applying for apprenticeship schemes or are starting to think about full time work. In which case interviews are pretty much a given.
But that’s okay. We know, not many of us can hand-on-heart say we enjoy being interviewed. Lots of people might go as far as to say they dread them. But with some solid prep work up your sleeve and the knowledge that interviews are a two-way street, you’ll quickly realise that they’re nowhere near as bad as the reputation they’ve gained.
First thing’s first, make sure you know the college/company/uni/whatever that’s interviewing you inside out. We guarantee you cannot research them enough.
Do some googling to see if your potential uni or employer have any online content covering their interview process and what to expect. You might even be able to dig up some info on the experiences of past applicants or find some handy insight in the news.
For example, this week Oxford University finally spoke out about their infamous interview process, even releasing a few sample questions to give prospective students a flavour of the real thing.
Think: “is war the opposite of politics?” and “what is the significance of the brain’s ‘face area’ and it being stimulated when people see and recognise faces?” as a few interview titbits.
Sure, they might seem a little more daunting than the bog standard ‘give us an example of a time you’ve shown good time management’. Don’t be put off though.
Dr Samina Khan, Director of Admissions, promises that there are no trick questions – “everything that we ask has a purpose, and that is to show us how a student thinks and responds to new ideas and information, in an academic conversation akin to the tutorials that they will take part in if they come to Oxford to study.”
Gaining insider info like this is really invaluable – not because you’re likely to ever be asked those exact questions and need to have answers prepared that would blow Einstein away, but because it tells you what admissions tutors and hiring staff are thinking and looking for.
And if a uni, college or employer has invited you in for an interview, remember that they want you to be great. They already like you on paper, so they want the interview to go well – they’d be wasting yours and their time if they didn’t.
It may feel like it sometimes but they’re not the enemy, they’re on your side. Of course, they’ll have questions and scenarios for you, maybe even some tasks and tests. But it’s not a one-way Guantanamo Bay interrogation.
The interview is a chance for you to meet someone who represents the uni or employer face to face, to get a feel for the place and to ask questions of your own. Think of it as your chance to interview them, too.
Wonder kinds of questions to ask, how to act, what to wear? Head over to the Interviews section of the Push website for our full survival guide. Don’t sweat it. You’ll be great.
LUCY HARDING is an English Literature grad and an MA Publishing student at UCL. She is passionate about international relations and cultural diversity, having worked closely with her university’s Erasmus society to support European students. She also spent a year abroad studying at California State University: Long Beach
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