Sample this… You’re just 18 and ready to face a volley of questions that border on the cryptic. It’s your big day. You made it this far and walk into a room, where you feel a layer of tension piling on you. You meet experts and college professors waiting to grill you with strange and tough questions.
Once you’re seated, there comes the first question – “Why is your hair black in color?” followed by “Is violence always political?”. Now that came from nowhere and makes you speechless. That seems to be a warm welcome to the world of Oxbridge admission interviews.
These 20 minutes make or break and may haunt you for the rest of your life. Now let’s get into some myth busting. Yes, interviews are critical in the selection process but they are not the only saviors. There are many false notions circulating in the context of Oxbridge that they are excruciating, weird, and out of place to an extent.
Let’s dig deep into the Oxbridge interview process and see what it really takes to land at your dream college.
1) Walk in with an open mind
An admission at Oxford and Cambridge is always put on the highest pedestal of achievements. But don’t get obsessed with the achievement to make it a now-or-never endeavour. You might have a lot of preconceived notions that the best of the minds get into Oxbridge and it’s a place for the rich and elite. Don’t carry that baggage into the interview room. Travel light and think of it as an achievable task. Then things fall into place. Connect with alumni from your school who got into Oxford or Cambridge to understand the nuances of the whole process.
2) The whole package is important
The admission process encompasses many aspects and interviews are a part of it. The process starts with your academics, the right choice of subjects, test scores and gradually gets into interviews. That makes interviews a deciding factor but not the only factor that governs your admission.
Focus more on the whole package that you are presenting to the admissions team and be thorough with your subject areas.
3) Try to understand the logical flow
The interviewers don’t ask some random questions to confuse or grill you. Remember you are not a walking Wikipedia who can pull out any detail in a jiffy. The ideal interview starts with your application, choice of subjects, and gets into knowing your personality. It’s an activity to assess how you apply your concepts in the real world. These questions may be mapped to your subject choice or they come as random occurrences to know more about you.
If you have mentioned certain hobbies in the application, expect questions related to that. So for the most part of it, the interview panel picks cues from the details mentioned by you and spins a web around it.
4) Think out loud
Try to stay honest in interviews and take some time to think before you answer. Don’t forget your fundamentals as the questions try to delve into them. One of the keys to success is to think out loud and churn out interesting discussions. Make them listen to the sound of your thoughts. If you are stuck somewhere, roll out a discussion and display your deduction skills to the interviewers. Think like Sherlock from the BBC TV series.
The next in line in the thinking process is to think beyond the obvious and surface some lateral thinking. This demonstrates the way you connect the dots to arrive at the right answer. Even if you land at the wrong answer, you will still win brownie points for your deductive logic. This is better than staying calm and saying NO for an answer.
5) Practice makes you perfect
This is a golden rule for every success. Let’s customize it to the Oxbridge interview process.
- Study the selected subject in and out.
- Focus more on real-time applications of theories.
- Always support your points with relevant examples.
- Meditate for a better mind control.
- Listen to past interviews and practice answers for interview questions from your stream.