Applying to university can be daunting time for many students across the country — and we cannot forget the miserably long wait of wondering what comes next. If you are a prospective university student, you may be required to attend an interview as part of your application. Your performance in this interview can have a major impact on your chance of getting into your preferred university. This is why the interview must be seen as an important part of the university process. With different universities and their varying admission methods, students are often confused about when these interviews take place.
While this may greatly vary from university to university and course to course, the interviews generally take place anytime between October and April. It is important to note that it can be affected by how early your application was sent. While university interviews are not common, a good number of universities use them to filter out the large number of applications. After the interviews, universities usually confirm places starting at the ending of March; depending on the university course, this could even happen in early May – a few months before the first semester begins.
If you have applied to an Oxbridge university (either the University of Cambridge or the University of Oxford), see the below summary of interview timings throughout the academic year:
- November – Applicants are usually sent out their interview invitations
- Early December – Applicants usually have their Oxbridge interviews
- January – Applicants receive their decision letter
You should have gotten your answer along with the general idea from the above paragraphs; however, I would really recommend giving the whole article a read if you would like a better understanding.
Table of Contents
When do university interviews take place?
Unfortunately, there is no single answer to this question; all universities and departments follow different procedures, so the timing of interviews can greatly vary.
Interviews usually start taking place from early November and they continue all the way into the academic year. More specifically, they could take place anytime between October and April — the October ones are usually for those who sent of their applications really early. If you apply for a university course earlier, you are more likely to be interviewed earlier.
The plain truth is, lot of universities have specific times at which they will likely interview applicants, but they do not always publish this information — unfortunately for the rest of us. The best thing to do would be to look at the admissions section on the university’s website to hunt for anything specific about their interview. It would even be a good idea to speak to any students who have previously attended or are currently attending the university you are interested in — if you are lucky, you may even get some invaluable insider tips from them.
How long after interviews do universities confirm your place?
A good number of students across the country worry when they do not hear back from their chosen university, even though most others have already had their places confirmed. It can leave students wondering: how long do universities have to take to confirm places?
After the interview process (if there were any interviews), universities still need some time to compare and review the different applications. For this reason, most universities will not have made a decision regarding places until the end of March. Some universities may take even longer and wait until May to give you an answer.
The main reason it varies is because of the differences between individual university admission teams and the popularity of the course. Universities with smaller admission teams will probably have applicants wait longer. Popular courses receive more applications that need processing, which results in a longer waiting period as well.
If you are in a position where your preferred university has not responded, please do not panic or take it as a negative sign. Universities do take their time when it comes to making offers do take time and it is not worth stressing over.
What is the purpose of a university interview?
Students may be wondering what purpose the interviews serve. They may seem slightly pointless when your application involves most of what you want to say anyway. Students often think: is the written application not enough for a university to decide between applicants?
According to universities, it is difficult to select fairly based on the UCAS application alone. The interviews are present to make sure the students they let in have the most academic ability and potential out of all the similar-graded applicants for a competitive course. A lot of times, the number of applicants is far, far higher than the number of places available. This is where the interviews come in; they aim to effectively filter out which students are best suited to the course applied for.
Furthermore, the interviews are supposed to give applicants the opportunity to expand on the written elements of their application and show prospective universities how well applicants are able to hold a discussion on the subjects they applied for. This also includes how enthusiastic the applicants seem at the idea of studying the subject – universities will be looking for the keenest prospective students and not ones that lack eagerness to study.
Why do university interviews not always take place?
You may already know that being invited to an interview is relatively uncommon; a lot of universities across the country do not run these interviews at all and select students solely based on their written application.
However, more competitive universities or difficult university courses will probably require you to attend an interview. They do this so they can better compare the applicants and have more evidence to help them decide which ones will be more suitable for the course.
Some highly regarded universities, such high as Oxford and Cambridge, simply do not offer applicants a place without an interview, regardless of the university course. This is usually done to make sure that only students equipped with the right skills for the course are selected to join and it also to filters out the large number of applicants.
Additionally, specific courses may be more inclined towards hosting interviews. For example, medical courses, art courses and languages courses are likely to involve interviews as part of the application process. Less competitive university courses do not normally require you to attend an interview.
What do the university interviews involve?
In most cases, students do not receive details about what university interviews involve and have no idea what to expect.
While interviews generally differ depending on the university and the field of study being applied for, most of them are based on a discussion with a professor of the subject you wish to study.The discussions are related to the course subject and could cover anything from areas like why you want to study the course to what you expect to gain from the course.
All university interviews do not follow a fixed discussion agenda; they are just simple discussions loosely structured around the area of interest. This means that different interviews could involve a lot of differently structured questions. This is why it is not easy to come prepared to an interview; it is safe to say that you can truly expect the unexpected!
If the subject requires it, the interview may also involve you to bring along a portfolio showing examples of your best work as part of the discussion. This is especially common for Art and Design or English courses.
How should you prepare for a university interview?
Another confusing aspect for students is preparing for the interview. Do the interviews require any preparation? What form of preparation is required? And what amount of preparation is ideal?
First of all, you will want to make sure that you will be able to travel to the university for the interview at the designated timings. If you are unable to make it, you should contact the university immediately to request a change in timings. The only thing worse than doing poorly at an interview is not showing up at all!
The next thing you can do is work on the questions they may ask you. These are most likely to be based on your chosen field of study, so make sure you build enough knowledge on that. Think specifically about why you intend to study the selected course with that specific university and what you want to do with the knowledge gained from the course.
At this stage, it is also a good idea to thoroughly research the university course you are applying for, so you have an insight as to what sort of a discussion they may be interested in having. It will also show the interviewer that you have bothered to do your research.
You may also want to carry out a mock interview with a teacher, friend or family member. This will give you the opportunity to see how well you answer questions under pressure and you may end up receiving some helpful pointers that can help with the actual interview.
How should you dress for a university interview?
As they say, a person’s dressing can tell you a lot about them. But do universities take this idea into account?
Most university websites will claim that clothing does not affect the applicant’s chances of being selected and they advise applicants to wear whatever they feel comfortable in — this, of course, does not refer to your pyjamas! It is essential that you look presentable in your clothing.
A good rule of thumb would be to keep it semi-formal and casual. This could involve a clean pair of smart trousers or a skirt, a simple blouse and perhaps even a sleek blazer. It could also be a good idea to wear a suit — only as long as you are comfortable in it.
While appearance says a lot about a person, it should not be given more importance than the actual interview itself. If you think that you would still like some insight regarding what to wear at a university interview, I will highly recommend giving this Think Student article a read.