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University Interviews

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Shamrock, 3 Feb 2006.

  1. Shamrock


    Joined: 24 Jul 2003

    Posts: 5,656

    Location: floating down the Liffey

    I've applied to do physics at various uni's and now I've been invited for an interview at Nottingham and UCL before they will give me an offer. :eek: To be honest, I'm a little nervous as the only interviews I've had are ones for part-time jobs and I imagine uni's will be much more thorough and gruelling.

    Can anybody who's been through one of these provide some tips as how to prepare and what I might expect?

  2. Tunney


    Joined: 11 Oct 2004

    Posts: 14,550

    Location: London

    I had a few interviews before doing a physics degree and there's nothing to really worry about.

    The interviews usually test your thought process and logic, rather than asking you to recite equations or derivations.

    Relax and I'm sure that you will be fine.
  3. Smit


    Joined: 6 Mar 2003

    Posts: 6,224

    Location: West Lothian

    Never had to go for an interview when I applied for universities so can't give you direct advice on what will be involved but I guess most of it is the same as job interviews.

    Dress smartly and be as positive and condifent as possible... Most of the questions I assume will be geared towards the work you did at school, why you want to do Physics, why you want to go to that university and also your hobbies etc
  4. Pajeh


    Joined: 18 Dec 2005

    Posts: 484

    Location: Manchester, UK

    Don't worry, best advice I would give is answer honestly.
  5. Psyk


    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 8,444

    Location: Leamington Spa

    I can't imagine it being more thorough and gruelling than a job interview. The only actual interview I had when I applied was at Imperial and it was quite informal. It was just the normal sort of questions and a small maths problem. The point of the problem was not to test that I knew the answer but how I'd go about finding the answer. This was for computer science btw.
  6. Greenlizard0

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 15 Mar 2004

    Posts: 28,189

    Location: Liverpool

    As the posts say above don't worry about reading too much into your subject before hand, they'll probably wanna test your raw mental abilities. They're not going to be impressed with you being that knowledgable since if they take you, then they're going to teach physics etc.

    I got interviewed at Cambridge years ago and they didn't ask me a single question on any of the A-levels I was doing, rather some very abstract questions to do with medicine. It's sort of a verbal IQ test if you know what I mean.
  7. megakid

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 6 Jun 2004

    Posts: 2,381

    Location: London

    Just be yourself.

    There's nothing much more you can do!
  8. Alex_L


    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 3,024

    i wouldn't fret about them. I had interviews for all the universities i applied to, and the hardest was at manchester, and even that was just a bit of basic chemistry above a-level. I was expecting a grilling from Imperial, but in the end it was a walk in the park, we spent more time talking about the course and what interested me in chemistry as well as the world in general (what i thought of the labour government)

    Have some questions for them as well, as the interviews are as much about you deciding whether that university is right for you as it is for them finding out if you'd fit in at there. So ask about the course, as for example chemistry courses vary hugely from university to university so physics would be the same i imagine.
  9. divine`


    Joined: 21 Apr 2004

    Posts: 12,435

    Location: Southampton University

    What they ask you is entirely dependant on the Uni, my interview for Southampton was a reasonably informal thing, just asking why I wanted to go there etc. they weren't asking me all sorts of questions and seeing how clever I was or anything.
  10. PinkPig


    Joined: 7 Jun 2004

    Posts: 3,531

    Don't stress about them in the slightest. My experience of university interviews, with the exception of Cambridge, were enormously casual things, it was much more of a friendly chat than a gruelling discussion. Less stressful than the interview for my part-time job, in fact, by some margin!
  11. Mr_L


    Joined: 28 Jan 2005

    Posts: 3,732

    Location: Worcester

    Be yourself, answer questions honestly, relax and don't worry about it.
  12. One More Solo


    Joined: 29 Dec 2004

    Posts: 15,749

    Location: Manchester

    The three most important words in an interview are "I don't know". If you can then follow that up with "but I think such and such" you will put yourself way out in front. The worst candidates try and bluff when they don't know, the best ones try and apply what they do know to something they don't.
  13. MrWhippy

    Wise Guy

    Joined: 15 Sep 2005

    Posts: 1,497

    ask if they mind you taking notes.
    they wont mind, and so do take notes.
    otherwise you'll forget half of what they've said by the time you get home.

    also have a few "good" questions lined up for them (written down is fine so you don't forget them in the excitement), you'll get a chance to ask before the end. things like "if i should receive offers from here and other uni's what are the main reasons you feel i would benefit from accepting the offer here".

    (note, don't say this like, "and what makes you so good" say it as "how do you personally see this universities most positive contributions to it's students". you're asking what an insiders view is)
    Last edited: 3 Feb 2006
  14. Haircut


    Joined: 18 Oct 2002

    Posts: 3,926

    Location: SW London

    If the interview at Nottingham is anything like the one I had for my course (bear in mind this was 8 years ago now) it will basically consist of a couple of minute session with one of the professors saying something like 'As long as you get your grades you're in' and then a tour of the uni/department.

    In the end I did get the grades and went to Nottingham, what a great place. Fantastic campus. Makes me wish I was a student again :(
  15. MasterMike


    Joined: 3 Nov 2002

    Posts: 3,092

    I went for an "interview" at Nottingham. Don't worry about it, they'll let you in. It wasn't an interview as such them getting through the work as quickly as possible (I didn't go there, I wasn't impressed with the enthusiasm shown by the lecturers) They gave me a conditional offer for turning up to the "interview", the condition being I got a D in physics. I got a B in the end.
  16. DaveyD

    Man of Honour

    Joined: 19 Jan 2003

    Posts: 12,646

    Location: Warwickshire

    Iterviews vary, but I had 5 interviews out of the six universities I applied for, and each varied in style. Interview days are usually very interesting if you get a tour round your prospective deparment + campus, but it usually get's down to the interview last and you get to sweat a bit.

    Only advice I can say is be yourself, and answer honestly to what they ask you. It'll be stuff like what you want to do in the future, why do you want to come to this department etc etc. You could also get a couple of basic maths questions, but may depend solely on the person interviewing you at the time.

    Good luck anyway mate.
  17. SiriusB


    Joined: 16 Dec 2005

    Posts: 14,448

    Location: Manchester

    The idea of the interviews is to give the uni something else to judge your fitness for a place on their course. It is hard just going off results so they need to find out more. Hence the personal statement you did on your UCAS application and the references you get from college.

    When I was getting ready to go visit universities, I was told for interviews to be completely yourself. Right down to the clothes you wear. No point wearing a suit if you'll never wear it again for as long as you are at uni lol. Obviously don't turn up wearing a chicken :p

    I only had one interview in the end at Salford uni and that was quite informal. They just asked me what I did at college and why I wanted to carry on into uni.

    Be yourself and don't tell porkies if you can possibly help it. If you lie and they suss you, it could harm your chance of getting a place.

    Loads of good advice in this thread and probably alot to take in but in the end its just:

    be honest
    be yourself

    Good luck :)

  18. Shamrock


    Joined: 24 Jul 2003

    Posts: 5,656

    Location: floating down the Liffey

    Thanks guys.

    Certainly puts me more at ease knowing its not going to be like an interrogation. One of my school teachers also offered to do a dummy-interview so I may take him up on that. Thanks again.
  19. Mattus


    Joined: 30 Sep 2003

    Posts: 10,907

    Location: London

    After my interviews at Oxford in December, I can :p

    If it's anything like my interviews, the questions will be hard and thought-provoking, but sensible. They're not trying to catch you out - they're just testing how well you can think and apply the knowledge which you have to unfamiliar situations. It's not a test of how much you know now, it's more a test of how 'teachable' you are, and what they can make you into.

    * keep a cool head
    * always give an answer even if you're not quite sure, but be prepared to back it up
    * don't worry if you need time to think as the interviewers won't mind
    * let the interviewers lead you if you're not sure, but don't sit there like a lemon saying 'yes' and 'no'
    * it doesn't matter if you change your mind on a point as long as you can explain why
    * don't try and judge how the interview is going - it's distracting
    * just do your best - you don't really know who you're up against, and that's all you can do!

    Also, don't go over the interview endlessly in your head afterwards. Nobody gives a perfect performance, but you will probably have done a lot better than you think. I was positive I hadn't got a place, but I had.
    Last edited: 4 Feb 2006
  20. PinkPig


    Joined: 7 Jun 2004

    Posts: 3,531

    I think you'll find that, with a few exceptions (medicine and vet courses, other very popular courses here and there), Oxford and Cambridge interviews are rather different to any other university interview you're likely to have.