Top tips for university interviews

  • 7 min read
Top tips for university interviews

Interviews help universities to get to know you better as a person. They’re also an opportunity for you to prove why you’re a great student. It may seem daunting, but don’t worry, following our tips and preparing ahead of time can help you make the best impression.

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Here are our top tips to help you ace your university interview:

Know what to expect

Not all universities ask you to attend an interview. Interviews are more common for specialist courses or highly prestigious or competitive universities. It’s a chance for universities to pick the right students for their institutions.

Although each university has its own interview process, there are some general things you can expect. It’s likely you’ll be asked about your:

  • Reasons for applying to the university
  • Academic goals
  • Career prospects
  • Strengths and weaknesses

The interviewers will be looking to get a sense of your personality, so be prepared to show and describe how you’re unique. Use examples from your extracurricular activities, studies, work experience, and daily life to demonstrate how you’ll contribute positively to the university community.

It can be difficult to attend an interview as it involves traveling abroad. If you’re unable to be physically present, you may be able to arrange an online interview. However, being there in person will allow you to explore the campus and city you’ll be living in - it’ll help you decide if the university is the right place for you.

If your interview is online, make sure you have access to a laptop and have the right software e.g. Zoom or Microsoft Teams. A strong internet connection and a quiet setting will also be needed.

Plan in advance

Doing some preparation in good time before your interview is really important. You should think about basic details like:

  • Date and time: know when your interview will take place
  • Travel: book your flights and arrange any transport you’ll need
  • Accommodation: find somewhere to stay
  • Location: note down the address, building name, and room number

All instructions on what you need to bring and do on the day should be included in your interview invite. If you’re unsure about something or need clarification, contact the university as soon as possible to avoid any unnecessary stress, confusion, and mistakes.

Check what you need to bring

Your interview invitation should explain what you need to have with you on the day. It’s a good idea to bring anything you think will be relevant for the interview. It’s useful to have:

  • Important documents: certificates, test scores, and transcripts
  • Identification: passport or driving license
  • Notepad and pen: to take notes and write down questions

The interviewers may want to see examples of your work, like a portfolio if you’re applying to study a creative program like art. If you’re applying to study science or mathematics, you may be asked to solve a formula.

Know your stuff

Do some research

When it comes to university interviews, doing research is key. The more you know about the institution, the better equipped you’ll be to deliver quality answers and you’ll have a higher chance of leaving a lasting impression on the interviewers.

Look at the university’s website to become familiar with its values and mission. Think about how its goals align with yours. This will help you explain why you’re the right student for the university.

The interviewers will want to see how much you know about the university to work out how eager you are to study there. They can easily spot well-researched answers - doing the homework can pay off massively.

Revisit your application

Make sure you’re familiar with your personal statement and any essays you submitted when you applied. This will enable you to deliver confident and consistent answers when explaining why you’re a good fit for the school.

The interviewers are likely to ask you questions based on your submission, so it’s handy to be familiar with what you’ve written.

Learn about your subject

Take some time to brush up on your knowledge about your chosen program because it’s likely you’ll be asked questions about it. Familiarize yourself with the modules, learning methods, and any latest developments in the field.

Not only will this give you a better understanding of what to expect in class, but it’ll also show how you’re passionate you are about the topic, which will impress the interviewers.

Practice your answers

A great way to prepare for a university interview is to practice answers to common interview questions. Preparing your answers in advance can help you become more confident and relaxed during the interview.

While it’s impossible to predict exactly what you’ll be asked, there are some general questions that come up often:

How do you think this university differs from the others?

  • What are your plans after graduation?
  • Tell about a time you’ve faced a challenge. How did you overcome it?
  • Why do you want to study this program?
  • What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

Practicing with a friend is a great way to become more comfortable with the interview process - it can also help you get used to answering questions under pressure. You can also get useful get feedback on your performance, and train yourself to stay within an allotted time for each answer.

You can get your friend to ask you tough questions that you might not be expecting. This way, you can get some experience in thinking on your feet and handling difficult questions.

Ask questions

Interviews are opportunities for you to ask questions you haven’t found the answers to, so don’t be afraid to ask. After all, you’ll be spending time and money studying there, so you have every right to get the answers you need.

Ask insightful questions to stand out and demonstrate your interest in the university. Here’s are some example questions:

What characteristics do you look for in a potential student? How would you describe the university’s teaching approach? If you could change one thing about this university, what would it be? Can you tell me about the extracurricular activities available on campus? What’s the biggest challenge students face at this university?

Dress to impress

It’s no secret that first impressions count, especially when you’re vying for a spot at your dream university. While academic credentials are the most important factor, the way you present yourself shows you’re professional and taking the process seriously.

Different institutions have different cultures and expectations. For example, a business school might prefer students to wear a suit, whereas an arts institution might be more relaxed in its dress code.

If you’re unsure about what to wear, play it safe and choose something you’d wear to a job interview. Opt for smart, comfortable, and well-fitting clothing in neutral colors.

Speak to other students

You can get some useful tips by speaking to current and former students who have experienced the interview process. If you know someone personally, ask them for advice. They can share useful resources, answer your questions, and help you prepare.

If you don’t know anyone, look for online forums where other students share their experiences. Reading these will give you a good idea of what you can expect. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other students - it could make a world of difference.

Be positive and relax

It’s natural to feel nervous before an interview. Remember that the interview is just a conversation - the interviewers aren’t out to get you, they just want to learn more about who you are. Being honest and well-prepared will help you be more confident and avoid getting caught off guard by tough questions.

Take some time to relax and clear your mind before the interview, you can do this by:

  • Getting plenty of sleep
  • Doing breathing exercises
  • Meditating
  • Going for a walk
  • Listening to music

When you’re in the interview, listen to the questions carefully and take a moment to think before you deliver your answer. If you need the question to be repeated or want context or clarification, feel free to ask.