Dos and Don'ts on the interview day

26 Oct 2015

Give yourself 1 hour to get to your interview room

For interviews held in your chosen college you will obviously have double checked the room location at least 1 hour beforehand. What else will you have done meanwhile? You are expected to be waiting outside the interview room while the precedent interview is taking place. So make sure to be sited latest 15 minutes before your scheduled interview time outside the assigned interview room.

For Oxford applicants, you will only find out the randomly allocated college for your second (could be first) interview on your first day of interview. There will be current 2nd years who will be helping out with directions, but really take it as your onus to get familiar with the location by looking up and asking. Colleges like St Hugh’s are far away. You will need good 30 minutes to walk there from the city center if it’s your first time. So set off early!

Bring a notepad, color pens, a calculator… all the tools you might ever need even though paper to write on will often be provided.

Dress code

Everyone is worried about this, wear a suit or a smart casual? I can say 99% of applicants will wear smart casual. Hope this answers the question well – you don’t need to wear a suit. Wear smart casual that is comfortable for you and shows the interviewers that you’ve put in the effort. For international students, it is quite cold in the UK during the interview period.
*Just an example for reference, definitely not for being replicated.

Print off a map

Your college will probably give you a map when you arrive on the day. However, the universities can be difficult to navigate as it’s in a city so if you have never been there before, prepare a map to guide you beforehand.

Admissions office number + charged phone

This will not happen in most cases because most applicants will be serious about their interviews but if it happens that you are late for interviews by a lot, you might want to let the interviewers know that you are running late. The only way to do that is let the admissions office know so just in case have the admissions office number saved on your phone. You can find these on the college admissions website.

Some students may think it is best not to have their phone with them during the interview period to remove any source of potential disruption or in case they ring off during the interview. True point but at least for the 30 minutes before the interview, have it as an emergency and just make sure to turn it off before the interview.

Look at the interviewers in the eye when they speak to you or when you speak to them

In the UK, looking at the person's eyes to whom you are talking to is regarded as manners. I admit it may be difficult for international applicants who are used to a different culture where the opposite is the case but both when you are talking to the interviewers and when interviewers talk to you, try and look at them in the eyes. If this is difficult, look at the mid point between the eyebrows. The interviewers will think you are looking at them in the eyes.

Shake hands with the interviewers

Interviewers may likely offer to shake hands when you come in to the room. Generally good manners to shake hands when you meet someone for the first time. Again this may feel awkward for some international students who haven't been used to the hand shaking culture but be prepared to shake their hands with a smile when they offer you their hands.

Take pencil, pens, paper, calculator, ruler and etc.

In the interview room, paper sheets and writing tools will be provided for you but you are allowed to take blank paper, ruler, pens and pencils and even a calculator yourself! It is generally advised that you take these with you (after all why wouldn't you?)