A Student’s Top 10 Tips for University Interviews

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A university admission interview might be your first experience of a formal interview. It can be nerve-wracking, no matter whether you are a seasoned interviewee or a novice. Every student is there to get an opportunity to start their higher education.

There are several things you can do to make the interview go as smooth as possible. Asking different people will get you slightly different responses, but the main concepts remain similar. There are a few general bits of advice, such as be confident and show respect, but there are some practical tips that are much easier to check off the list with an objective “yes” or “no” answer 

This article can help those of you looking for a handful of easily applicable tips to make that interview go as successfully as possible.

10. Bring Along Any Additional Documents

Before your interview you will be informed about any extra documents or forms you will require during your interview. This is likely to be a portfolio of sorts, or an essay. 

Students who have university applicant interviews for Art related courses may have to bring some of their works along with them. It won’t be as easy as showing your drawings. You will have to talk about the art-making process, your struggles while making it and what you learnt from itHere is a good article specifically about presenting your art portfolio during an interview. 

9. Plan Your Journey Ahead of Time

This tip goes with any important appointment you may have, but some people do not consider the travelling time to get to their interview. For the students making applications to universities far from them, you should think about how you’re getting to the appointment. 

Often, universities are inflexible with their timings as some have hundreds of applications to consider. This means it is important that you are able to make it to your allotted slot with enough time for preparation. 

It might require you to find some short-term accommodation while you’re there, such as a hotel or staying with a friend or family member. Though forgivable, you want to avoid being late in order to create a good first impression. 

8. Dress Appropriately

Although a university interview might not be as formal as an office job interview, you still want to create a good impression by dressing in smart clothingYou are not expected to whip out a three-piece suit or an evening gown but think office casual and you should be good. 

Aim for simple clothing with a touch of formality such as trousers, a dress shirt or blouse or maybe aa pencil skirt. One thing you should keep in mind is that jeans are not considered as appropriate interview-wear. 

In terms of jewellery, try to keep it discreet and simple so as to not cause a distraction to the interviewer. This includes extreme facial piercings or jewellery which is very shiny. Anything too outlandish is not recommended as it can be deemed as unprofessional. 

If your budget allows it, you can even go as far as buying a new outfit. This is not at all necessary if you already have smart clothes to wear. However, some people appreciate a completely new outfit perhaps to commemorate the occasion. 

A smart outfit shows a level of professionalism and that you are taking it seriously. Check out this article on how best to dress for your university interview. 

7. Read the Course Description

If you are at the point of worrying about university applicant interviews, you have probably already done this but on the off chance that you have not, you should. The course description is probably the most important bit of information you can read when applying for university. It will tell you a lot of what you need to know about what it is like to study the course.  

Course descriptions often break down the course by module so you can really learn the specifics about what to expect if you were to get a place. You can garner what they expect of a student by reading it and it can  

6. Know What Draws You to the Course or University

Every university has a unique selling point which makes them stand out compared to the others. The unique selling point may differ from person to person. It may be that the university has a lot of PhD students, or the university does a lot of research in a field you like, or it may even be that the university is nearby. Whatever the point is, you should find out what it is and understand it so you can bring it up if it is asked in the interview.  

An interviewer is looking for students who actually want to be there and if you have a reason for wanting to be there, you can more authentically show enthusiasm. 

Knowing what draws you to the university gives you a reason to want a place and you will work harder to get it. If you go into a university interview lacklustre and with no real desire to get a place that will become obvious to the interviewer, as they ask more questions and get uninspired answers this will become more prevalent. 

5. Research Around Your Course

Usually, universities have a recommended reading list for their courses which you can access through their website. These lists tend to be quite long and can be quite overwhelming, but if you just take one from that list that interests you, it can show to the interviewer how you’re willing to go above and beyond 

It also displays your zest for the course and desire to expand your knowledge even without the stress of university to push you. For those of you who are put off by the idea of throwing yourself into an educational textbook, try and find any other media regarding your course. This can be anywhere from a podcast about your subject to a Ted Talk on a new development in your course. Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to be about your course wholly, it can be about a subsection of the course which interests you. 

If your course is related to a specific industry like Computer Science or Medicine, for example, you can try to keep up with developments or discoveries in the industry. This may require checking the news or subscribing to magazines or newsletters.  

All in all, showing an extra, voluntary interest in the course will allow your interview to be more engaging and interesting. It may even turn into a genuine conversation about what you’ve learnt from your research which can make you appeal to your interviewer. 

4. Ask the Interviewer Questions

Asking questions is a great way to show some enthusiasm about the course and show how the course inspires you. Asking the interviewer, a question can not only show your interest, but also buys you time to gather your thoughts while they give an answer. 

Think about what you are genuinely curious about concerning the course and the university itself. The interviewer often works at the university and so it might be a good idea to ask something along the lines of “What kind of advice would you give to a future student?” or “What is a common challenge students face and how do they overcome it?”. 

These questions show that you acknowledge there may be difficulties throughout your university experience, but also that you are also looking to find ways to combat them in the best way possible.  

It doesn’t even have to be related to the course; it can just be about the university itself. This could include a question about the societies they offer or maybe how much of a say students have in the goings-on of the university. 

3. Know Why You Want to Take Your Course

This is going to be the main driving force behind your interview. For those of you with a clear career path in mind, it is going to be easy for you to work out why you are taking the course. It helps if your post-university plans are related to the course you are applying for.  

Expressing a natural keenness to learn about the course can be done by talking about how it will help you attain your future goals or set you on a certain career path. However, do not be alarmed if you are unsure about your plans for after university. 

Interviewers know that not everyone has their future set-in stone so, for the students who only have a vague idea, focus on short term aims you would like to achieve. That aim might be simply to learn more about the subject or to feed your curiosity.  

2. Read Over Your Personal Statement 

This may seem obvious, but it is vital to succeeding in a university interview. Many interviewers use your personal statement as a launchpad for questioning much like how a job interviewer would use a CV to ask questions.  

Your personal statement should briefly mention some achievements you have made over your life which is perfect fodder for the interviewer to get more in-depth responses from youThis is why you should be honest on your personal statement and mention things you would be comfortable expanding upon for a period of time.   

It won’t be enough to just glance over what you wrote. Read the things you mentioned and think about why you mentioned them. If you mentioned something in your statement but can’t remember exactly what you did or what you achieved, it probably isn’t worth mentioning.  

A big red flag for interviewers is asking a question regarding something on the personal statement and getting a vague and uncertain response. It shows a lack of preparation and could perhaps give them the impression that the interviewee lied.  

Make sure to know your personal statement like the back of your hand so that any question you are asked about it does not catch you off guard. It helps if you enjoy your subject and enjoy what you wrote on your personal statement.

Click here to get tips on how to write a personal statement. You can find personal statement tips specific to universities at this link also. 

1. Arrange a Mock Interview 

This tip is arguably the most useful one you could implement before you go to your interview. Preparation is key to your success and what better way to prepare than to do a trial run?

The best way to do this is by arranging an interview with a teacher or a careers advisor if you have one. Try to get a teacher who teaches in the subject related to the course you wish to take. For example, if you want to do Medicine you should ask the person who teaches you biology to conduct an interview.   

Another way you could do this in a more informal setting is by asking a friend or family member to conduct the interview for you. The obvious disadvantage to this is that you are less likely to take it as serious as required. Also, the interviewer may not have as much experience with the subject or the course meaning their feedback is not going to be as specific 

If you are unable to find a friend or family member willing to do it, you can always do it on your own. You won’t be equipped with the expertise of a teacher, but you can prepare some answers to possible questions which may be asked in the real thing.  

Click here to find a huge list of potential university interview questions you could ask yourself and make answers for. 


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