Get degree ideas using our A level explorer tool

How to prepare for a university interview

You've been invited to a university interview – great! But how should you get ready for it?

Being invited to a university interview means that admissions tutors are probably impressed with your application so far, and you could be in the running to receive an offer.

This can feel like a lot of pressure, but having an idea of what to expect can help you shine on the day. 

Here are some tips to get you ready for a university interview – including what you should wear, questions to prep for and how to perfect your interviewing technique.

What are university interviews actually like? 

Interviews can range from an ‘exam out loud’ to an informal chat designed to encourage you to choose that course. They can last anything from ten minutes to an hour and are usually conducted by one interviewer.

They can also vary depending on the subject you're applying to study – English students may have to discuss a poem with their interviewer, while maths applicants might be asked to solve an equation.

Some top university interview tips

Above all, tutors want to see that you're enthusiastic about your subject. Your application has done enough to persuade them so far, so just be yourself.

You may be asked to expand on your personal statement, if you mentioned any extra research or work experience you've done.

Here are some tips from universities on what else interviewers want to see:
  • University of Bristol: "Among other things, they will ask you about your reasons for wanting to study that particular subject and make sure you are aware of what the course involves and what the career options are. They will also assess your ability to communicate and to cope with stress."
  • University of Kent: "Interviewers will expect you to show some knowledge of the course and university, and have the ability to present your ideas and arguments well."
  • University of Oxford: "They are looking for evidence that you are thinking independently, that you are willing to engage with new ideas beyond the scope of your school or college syllabus, and that you are committed to your subject."

Questions you might be asked in a university interview

These are hard to predict, so here are some pointers on what questions you may face in a uni interview:

  • Revisit the university prospectus and course details, thinking about how you'd answer questions such as ‘why this course?’ and ‘why this university?’.
  • Re-familiarise yourself with your personal statement and be prepared to elaborate on anything you’ve said.
  • Get someone (who hopefully knows a bit about your subject) to give you a mock interview. Having some interview practice beforehand will help to boost your confidence and expose areas you need to work on.
  • Make sure you’re aware of the latest issues in current affairs relevant to your subject – tutors may bring these into the discussion.
  • Prepare some questions to ask tutors – make sure they haven’t already been answered in information you've been sent by the university.

University interview tips and preparation - including what to wear

  • Look carefully through any material that is sent to you before the interview, so you know what to expect when you arrive.
  • Choose something suitable to wear. The university may offer dress code recommendations, but if not, dress in something you feel comfortable.
  • Plan your journey, especially if you need an overnight stay. Give yourself plenty of time to avoid any stress.

Interview techniques for on the day

  • It's not just what you say that's important – body language is key to the impression you'll make. Sit up straight, make eye contact and look (and sound) interested. It's important to engage with the interviewer right from the start.
  • Listen carefully to the question and don't be afraid to take some time to think about your answer or ask them to repeat it – you won't be penalised.
  • Remember, an interview is a two-way process. Make the most of it by finding out as much as you can about the course (including teaching methods) and getting a feel for whether the course and the university are right for you.
  • Whatever the format of your interview, try to contribute to the discussion as well as responding to what your interviewer asks you.
But remember, ​​​​there is no such thing as the perfect interview – or the right answer to a question.

To take the pressure off, it can help to approach the interview as an opportunity to chat about a subject that you and the interviewer have a shared interest in. 

Search The Uni Guide

Find further advice or search for information on a course or university