Don’t be caught unprepared! Here are 5 things to bring to your Oxbridge interview – you’ll be glad you remembered them when you arrive.
With all the interview practice and advice from family, friends, teachers, and the internet, your brain will be brimming with information. In the high pressure environment of an Oxbridge interview, where every second counts towards success, you don’t want any awkward silences or fumbling repetitions as you try to remember what to say. The solution? A concise, one page information sheet with key words and ideas, headed under different topics of conversation. Include: why you’ve applied to Oxbridge in general, why you chose this college, why do you want to study this particular subject, and what relevant experience you have. When written out and read over just before the interview, your information will come out as articulate and well-structured reasoning rather than garbled and jumbled waffle.
This sounds obvious, but when your mind is focused on the all-important interview, it’s hard to dedicate time to your body’s needs. But the key to a successful interview, in any situation, is not just about providing your brain with information but also with sustenance. If you’re hungry or thirsty it will slow you down. For a start, eat breakfast. Some people can’t stomach anything heavy, that’s fine, a pastry or some porridge will do. Then, pack a snack. All it takes is an apple, some nuts, or a chocolate bar, and make sure you drink plenty of water to avoid grogginess. There’s nothing wrong with taking a bottle of water into the interview. Besides, having a sip between questions will create some time if you’re struggling to think of an answer.
Experts say that some interviewers make a decision within the first minute of meeting the candidate. A suit and tie often make candidates look uncomfortable. Instead, go for smart but practical. Boys, that just means slacks and a shirt; for girls, it’s always a bit tricky. Avoid high heels, swap skirts for trousers or keep skirts at a reasonable length. Keep your hair out of your face, your makeup minimal, and wear a warm jumper. Avoid jewellery – people have a tendency to fiddle when they’re nervous. For everyone, be careful of holes, scuffs, and stains, because neatness suggests professionalism far more than a suit does. And, of course, clichéd as it sounds, the most important thing to wear is a smile.
For Cambridge, you’ll have traveled far for just a day and may even need to stay the night; for Oxford, interviews can go on for a few days, particularly if you’re ‘pooled’. It’ll be worthwhile getting to know the city a bit. It’s useful to imagine yourself living there for 3 years. Every university is different, and you need to find the right one for you. Of course, for a less practical but more fun reason, you will have some time around your interviews when you’ll want to relax. Oxford and Cambridge are beautiful cities soaked in fascinating history and culture with plenty of things to do, so get that map out and start exploring.
The Oxbridge interview process is one of the most stressful experiences you will have at secondary school. It’ll be a day or more filled with nervous waiting, meeting new people, tasks, activities and tests, endless questions and answers, physical and mental pressure. So, treat yourself to something that will help you wind down. A book, a magazine, a colouring pad, a crossword puzzle, a diary, a Gameboy, an iPad with films, or even just a phone full of apps will loosen the knots in your brain and keep you fresh and ready for the next challenge.
Written by Florianne H.
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