Home   /   Resources   /   Perspectives


19 Aug

Dos and Don’ts on Interview Day
<p><strong>Key Points</strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><ol><li>Be in your best form for the interview.</li><li>Dress appropriately for the interview - smart casual strikes a good balance between being too informal and overly formal.&nbsp;</li><li>Arrive ahead of time - give yourself some allowance when travelling from one part of the City to your interview venue.</li><li>Be prepared for the interview - bring everything you need with you.</li><li>Good manners are always a plus.<br>&nbsp;</li></ol><p><strong>Introduction</strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>After crossing multiple hurdles, you’ve finally made it to the interview stage. The last thing you want is to perform below your usual ability for the interview. By paying attention to the following areas, you can maximise your chances of acing the interview.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Dress Code</strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>You don’t have to wear a suit for your interview. 99% of applicants will wear smart casual (for instance, a formal shirt layered with a sweater on top and paired with chinos). It’s more comfortable than wearing a suit and yet highlights to the interviewer that you’ve made some effort to dress up.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Arrive Ahead of Time</strong><br>&nbsp;</p><p>It goes without saying that you want to go into the interview feeling confident and collected. Having to run to your interview venue because you’re about to be late will only make you flustered. Here are some tips to ensure that you end up at your interview well ahead of time:</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><i>1) Give yourself plenty of buffer - 1 hour if necessary</i></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Plan to arrive 15 minutes before your scheduled interview time.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>While you will normally be interviewing at the college where you’re staying at, note that the college accommodation you’re staying at may not always be next to the college itself.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>In addition, you may be asked to interview at another college and the distance between colleges at Oxford and Cambridge can be huge. It can easily take 40 minutes or more to navigate by foot between colleges which are at the opposite ends of the city. This is why setting off early is key.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><i>2) Check out your interview venue</i></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>For interviews held at your college, you should go have a look at the interview location an hour in advance (or even the day before) to know exactly where it is.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>If you are required to interview at another college, you will only be told on the first day of your interview. Find out how to get to these colleges. There will usually be second year undergraduates who are helping out with the interviews. You can ask them for help.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Try to arrive early at the college to find out where exactly the interview room is located. Furthermore, some colleges like St Hugh’s in Oxford are really far away. You will need a good 40 minutes to walk there from the city centre so it’s even more important to set off early.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><i>3) Print out a map of the area</i><br>&nbsp;</p><p>Your college will normally give you a map of the college when you arrive. But navigating around town can be tricky if it is your first time so print out a map of the area beforehand and mark the key locations you need to get to on the map.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><i>4) Save the admissions office number and charge your phone the night before</i><br>&nbsp;</p><p>If you’re running late for the interviews, you might want to let the interviewers know. The only way to do that is by calling the admissions office so save the number on your phone.&nbsp;<br>&nbsp;</p><p>Keep your phone charged in case of emergencies like the above situation but remember to switch it off just before the interview.<br>&nbsp;</p><figure class="image"><img src=""></figure><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Be Prepared for the Interview</strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The only thing you should be concentrating on is answering the interviewer’s questions. So take care of the minor details beforehand to prevent them from bothering you during the interview.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><i>Writing Materials</i></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>The college will often provide you with these but don’t count on it. Bring along the stationery (e.g pens and highlighters) and paper as well as any subject specific tools (e.g graphic calculators) that you will need.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><i>Personal Comfort</i></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>You’ll be the one doing most of the talking so bring a bottle of water along to keep yourself hydrated. A hot water bottle may also be a good idea since you’ll be in the UK in winter. Likewise, dress accordingly. Many of the older buildings have patchy heating so bring a jacket or sweater with you in case things get cold.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p><i>Reference Material</i></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Print out your personal statement (and any written work that you were required to submit as part of your application) in case you need to refer to it. You can also quickly skim through the material while waiting for your interview.<br>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Good Manners</strong><br>&nbsp;</p><p>It goes without saying that interviewees should conduct themselves properly throughout the interview. These small gestures go a long way in helping you leave a good impression on the interviewer:</p><p>&nbsp;</p><ul><li>Wait outside the interview room if you’re early and knock on the door before entering</li><li>If you’re running late you should still knock first just in case the previous candidate has not left</li><li>Hold the door for the previous candidate who’s leaving&nbsp;</li><li>Greet your interviewer and shake hands with them (do the same when your interview has ended)</li><li>Smile</li><li>Turn off your mobile phone to avoid distractions</li></ul><p>&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Be In Your Best Form For The Interview</strong></p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Your interview will typically last for two days. After your interviews on the first day, you’ll normally have half a day left to yourself. At this point, you get to decide whether to continue studying or take a break.&nbsp;<br>&nbsp;</p><p>If you decide to take a break, the college Junior Common Room (JCR) is open to you and it can be a good place to hang out with other interviewees. The JCR usually has entertainment facilities where you can play table tennis, pool or foosball. Oxford and Cambridge are cities and there are many activities that can be done with friends from the same school or new friends that you’ve made. These include dining out, catching a movie or just chilling at a cafe.<br>&nbsp;</p><p>If you decide to revise, that’s fine too. But remember not to overdo it by staying up too late. You should be in optimal condition for the interview and that requires you to get enough rest for the interview.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Do not dwell on any of the previous interviews even if you think they went really badly! What you can do is make a list of the areas that you’d like to improve on for the next interview and review them before sleeping. But put aside any negative feelings and “what if” scenarios.&nbsp;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p>Many successful candidates came out of their interviews thinking that they had flunked, so don’t worry. That’s just the nature of the interviews, they’re meant to be challenging.</p><p>&nbsp;</p>