Preparing for your Cambridge Interview
There aren't any special tricks to preparing for interviews, and interviewers can usually tell if an applicant has been over-rehearsed by well-meaning teachers or parents. On the other hand, there are some things you can do beforehand which will, at the very least, make you feel more confident.
Know what to expect
Being familiar with what's likely to happen during your interview can help to calm a lot of nerves. To give you an idea of what to expect on the day, you may find it useful to watch our Interview films.
Keep in mind that you’ll be asked questions relevant to the course you’ve applied for, and about the information you provided in the written elements of your application.
Therefore, think about questions that might be asked and how you would answer them – such as why you want to study at Cambridge, why you've chosen this particular subject, and if you have specific areas of interest.
Re-read your personal statement and any written work
Think about topics relevant to your subject which particularly interest you. Where possible, try to reference the author and/or title of things you've read.
Read around your subject
Think about particular topics you'd like to talk about – you can to some extent direct the interview by showing interest in specific topics that you're asked about. Try to remember the author and/or title of things you've read!
- In science subjects, read around the parts of the subject that particularly interest you (either in scientific journals or popular science books).
- In arts subjects, make sure that you've read something outside the prescribed texts for your school/college subjects and have thought critically about what you've read.
You may be asked about topical issues and developments connected to your chosen course, particularly those readily visible in the wider world. However, you won't be asked about your knowledge of current affairs or matters unconnected to the subject area.
Practise talking about your subject
Practise talking and answering questions about your subject and wider interests with your friends, family and/or teachers. You may want to ask a teacher (or someone else) who doesn't know you very well to give you a practice interview so you can gain experience of expressing your ideas and opinions to a stranger in response to unknown questions.
Alternatively, you could try asking yourself questions for half an hour. This will help you to get used to talking about yourself and your work and thinking critically about things.
However, please note that you're not expected to have ready-prepared answers – over-rehearsed answers can be counter-productive if you're preoccupied with recalling set speeches on general topics rather than listening to the interviewers' questions and responding accordingly.
At the end of the interview, you'll probably have a chance to ask any questions, so, if there's something you want to know that hasn't been covered, now's your chance to find out. However, don't worry if you can't think of anything – you don't need to ask something just for the sake of it. In fact, it can give a bad impression if you ask a question that's easily answered by reading the Prospectus or looking online.
Probably the most important tips are to be on time, be as relaxed as possible, and, above all, be yourself!