You’ve submitted your UCAS application and have received an invitation to interview – congratulations! Being interviewed for a university place is your first chance to experience one of the events that will likely feature throughout your adult life. Knowing how to successfully navigate an interview is a skill that will benefit you for a longtime – and it can start right here.
Just as with preparing for a job interview, one of the best places to start is reviewing your personal statement, both to become familiar with its contents and to consider areas that an interviewer might focus on to ask more probing questions.
If you’ve mentioned that you were in a musical group, you could likely expect the interviewer to ask about extra-curricular activities in order to find out more about it. They may be looking for insights into your ability to work as part of a team, or your experience of performing in front of audiences.
The interviews that you might face will more than likely be discussion based. Like many job interviews in later life, interviewers will involve competency-based questions and also many related to the course, institution and your own background. The benefit of this is that it gives you some scope to prepare responses to the more common questions. Competency questions are looking for examples of your knowledge, experience and possibly even subject-matter passion. Try and come up with what is known as a STAR response – Situation, Task, Action, Result. In short, what was the situation, what role did you play, what did you do and what was the outcome?
The types of questions could include:
• Why do you want to join this university?
• Tell me what you know about this course?
• Tell me about a time when you worked under pressure to meet a deadline?
• Why did you choose those A-Level subjects?
The interview is also your opportunity to find out more about the course and institution. Don’t forget that a university interview, like any job-interview, is a two-way process. Make sure you go prepared with some questions to ask them, to help establish if it is the place that you want to study at for the next three years.
For many people this could be their first experience of adult life and, therefore, there are other behaviours that interviewers will be scoring you on. First impressions count for a lot, so wearing a smile, along with a smart outfit, can convey confidence and an air of preparation.
Don’t forget to arrive in plenty of time – plan your journey and perhaps stay overnight if it’s a long way from home. Some universities will ask you to bring additional items with you like GCSE certificates, so remember to take them with you. Above all, be yourself and use it as a chance to gain experience that you can take with you to future interviews.