After finishing high school, the next step for many is to pursue higher education. But before you can jump into an exciting class environment and dorm life, there might be one more thing to do: an interview! This interview is your chance to chat with the university’s admission committee and show them why you’d be a great fit for your chosen program.

Although some universities might accept you based on your grades and application alone, others require an interview. This is especially common for fields like medicine, dentistry, nursing, education, music, and art & design. Universities like Oxford University and York University even have resources dedicated to helping you prepare for these interviews.

However, these university resources might not be enough to completely prepare you. This article will equip you with all the essential steps to ensure your interview is a success. So, keep reading and get ready to impress the admission committee and land your spot at your dream university!

What to Expect in a University Interview?

University interviews can feel like a mystery – who will you meet? What will they ask? What should you wear? And many more. Unlike a surprise quiz, though, you can prepare for this conversation! Your interviewer will likely be someone who knows your chosen program inside out, like a professor or admissions officer. They’re there to chat with you, learn more about your goals, and see if you’d be a good fit for their program.

When attending an on-site interview, be sure to check if there are any specific documents you need to bring. This might include transcripts, letters of recommendation, or even a curriculum vitae (CV) or resume. As for your outfit, making a good first impression is important. Dress professionally but comfortably. A clean and ironed blouse or button-down shirt with dress pants or a skirt is a safe bet. Now that you know who you’ll meet and what to bring, keep reading to discover how to prepare for your university interview in some simple steps!

Steps on How to Prepare for a University Interview

University interviews can feel daunting, but with some simple preparation, you can turn them into a positive experience. Here, we’ll break down the key steps to ensure you feel confident and impress the interviewers on the big day!

Step 1. Review Pre-interview Materials Thoroughly

If you’re lucky enough to score an interview invite, the university will send you a letter outlining everything you need to know. This includes details about the program, the interview format, and any specific instructions they might have. Take time to thoroughly understand what the university is looking for in a candidate and any special requests they have. Some universities, like Oxford, might ask you to bring a copy of your personal statement and a book that showcases your current coursework.

Step 2. Reflect on Why You’re Passionate About that Subject

This step goes beyond simply stating your major. Think about what sparked your interest in the field. For example, if you’re applying to medicine, did a specific medical experience or volunteer work ignite your desire to pursue this path? Maybe you’re fascinated by the latest advancements in medical technology. For technology enthusiasts, perhaps you’ve built your own computer or developed a passion for coding. Whatever your reason, having a clear answer to “why” will demonstrate your genuine interest and commitment to the subject.

Step 3. Re-read Your Personal Statement and Any Written Work Submitted

As we mentioned, Oxford and many other universities require a personal statement as part of the interview requirements. So, don’t let your personal statement and any additional essays you submitted just get lost! Rereading these documents will refresh your memory about the specific experiences and skills you highlighted. This can help you connect your written application to the interview conversation and showcase a consistent narrative about your goals and aspirations.

Step 4. Think About Your Relevant Experiences

Beyond your written application, think about the experiences that shaped your interest in this field. Did you participate in any relevant extracurricular activities, volunteer work, or summer programs? Maybe you’ve taken online courses or completed personal projects. Highlighting these experiences in your interview demonstrates your initiative and commitment to your chosen subject.

Step 5. Practice Makes Perfect

Once you’ve thought about your relevant experiences and refreshed your memory on your written application, it’s time to simulate the interview. Ask a friend or family member to act as the interviewer, using common interview questions mentioned later in this article or you can even find many of them online specific to your chosen program. This practice run will help you refine your answers, build your confidence, and identify areas where you might need to polish your delivery. Don’t be afraid to stumble during practice – it’s a safe space to learn and improve before the big day!

Step 6. Prepare Some Questions to Ask

The interview isn’t just about them getting to know you – it’s like a conversation and also your chance to learn more about the program and university. Plus, several studies have also indicated that asking well-researched questions can reduce your interview anxiety and can leave a positive impression on the interviewers. So, show your genuine interest by preparing thoughtful questions about the program curriculum, faculty research, or campus life. This demonstrates your initiative and helps you envision yourself at the university.

Step 7. Special Preparation if Having an Online Interview

If your university interview is conducted online, there are some additional considerations to keep in mind to ensure a successful experience. Firstly, make sure you have a stable internet connection and a quiet, well-lit space where you won’t be interrupted. Test your audio and video equipment beforehand to avoid technical issues during the interview.

Even though you’re at home, dress professionally from the waist up. This will help you feel confident and project a positive image. Finally, minimize distractions by closing any unnecessary tabs or programs on your computer. Silence your phone and inform anyone at home that you’ll be unavailable during the interview.

Common Interview Questions

The foundation for a successful interview lies in understanding the types of questions you might be asked. Therefore, here are some of the most common university interview questions, where we’ll help you understand the underlying purpose of each question and how to respond!

1. Tell Me Something About Yourself

This is a broad opening question that allows you to showcase your personality, background, and what makes you unique. Briefly talk about your academic achievements, relevant experiences, and interests.

2. Why Are You Interested in This Field of Study?

This question assesses your genuine interest and passion for the field you’re applying to. Explain what sparked your curiosity and highlight specific aspects of the subject that excite you.

3. Tell Me About a Time You Overcame a Certain Academic Challenge

This question looks for your problem-solving skills, resilience, and ability to learn from setbacks. Describe a situation where you faced a difficulty, the steps you took to overcome it, and the lessons you learned.

4. Why Are You Interested In Our University?

This question aims to understand your motivation for choosing their university specifically. You can include unique facts about the university, such as its rankings, notable faculty, or specific programs that align with your interests. It’s also encouraged to research the university’s mission and values, which can further demonstrate your alignment with their ethos. Take the time to explore the university’s “about” page, where you can find valuable information highlighting these aspects.

5. What Strategies Will You Use to Manage Your Academic Workload Alongside Personal Responsibilities?

Here, the interviewer wants to understand your ability to juggle academic demands with a healthy personal life. So, it’s no problem to start by acknowledging that this can be a challenging task. It’s important to demonstrate your awareness of the potential difficulties and your proactive approach to managing them. You could discuss strategies such as prioritizing tasks, setting realistic goals, utilizing time management techniques, seeking support from professors or mentors, and maintaining open communication with friends and family about your commitments.

6. What Are Your Hobbies and Interests?

Your hobbies and extracurricular activities can be a unique way to showcase yourself! Mention a hobby that connects to your studies, then highlight an extracurricular activity that demonstrates a different transferable skill (like leadership in a club). Briefly add a general interest to round out your personality. This combination shows the interviewer you’re well-rounded and how your diverse experiences will contribute to a successful university experience.

7. How Do You Handle Working in a Team or Group Setting?

This question helps the interviewer understand your ability to collaborate effectively with others. This is important because university often involves group projects and assignments. In your response, you can describe a situation highlighting your communication skills, ability to compromise, and experience working in teams (academic or extracurricular).

8. Could You Outline Your Long-Term Goals and Aspirations in Your Selected Field of Study?

This question is asking about your future plans and dreams related to your chosen major. It aims to understand your career aspirations, how you plan to utilize your education, and the impact you hope to make in your field over the long term. Your response should not be unrealistic and should focus on potential areas of focus or specialization.

9. What Are Some Challenges You Anticipate Facing in Your Field of Study? How Do You Plan to Overcome Them?

This question assesses your awareness of potential difficulties in your chosen field and your problem-solving approach. Your response should demonstrate your ability to identify and analyze potential challenges, such as technological advancements, ethical dilemmas, or funding constraints, and propose proactive strategies to address them.

10. Do You Have Any Questions For Us?

Absolutely answer “yes” to the “Do you have any questions?” prompt. It’s a golden opportunity. Show your engagement by asking thoughtful questions about the program, research, or student life.

Interview Tips and Techniques

Every interview has its hurdles, but with the right techniques, you can transform those challenges into opportunities to shine. Here, we’ll equip you with essential tips and strategies to leave a lasting impression and land that dream opportunity!

Tip 1. Utilize Storytelling

Instead of simply listing your achievements, incorporate storytelling techniques to make your experiences come to life. For instance, when answering a question like “Tell me about your leadership qualities,” you can give a short narrative using the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result). Briefly describe the situation, the task at hand, the actions you took to demonstrate leadership, and the positive outcome. This transforms dry facts into an engaging story that highlights your skills and leaves a lasting impression.

Tip 2. Incorporate Visual Aids

Especially for Arts and Design students, consider bringing along a well-curated portfolio or impactful visual aids like graphs, charts, or project samples. These visuals can effectively supplement your verbal responses and showcase your design thinking, technical skills, and the creative process behind your work. However, remember to keep them concise, professional, and directly relevant to the interview discussion.

Tip 3. Demonstrate Curiosity

A genuine interest in the interviewer, your chosen program, or the university sets you apart! Don’t be afraid to ask thoughtful questions about the role, research opportunities, or faculty expertise. This demonstrates your proactive nature and desire to learn more. Actively listen to their responses and engage in follow-up questions that showcase your understanding and spark a two-way conversation. By displaying genuine curiosity, you leave a lasting impression as someone who’s not just seeking admissions, but a place to contribute and actively grow.

Tip 4. Make a Great First and Last Impression

Make a stellar first impression: Offer a firm handshake, maintain confident eye contact, and greet interviewers politely. Dress professionally and arrive early. Address interviewers respectfully and use polite greetings like “Hello,” “Thank you for your time,” and “It was a pleasure meeting you.” Maintain professionalism throughout the interview by silencing your phone, sitting with good posture, and actively listening. Courtesy demonstrates maturity and respect for the university.

Tip 5. Tackle Unfamiliar Questions With Confidence

Interviews can be unpredictable. If you encounter a question that you are unfamiliar with, don’t panic! Be honest. Thank the interviewer for the question, and politely explain that you’re not entirely familiar with that specific topic. However, showcase your resourcefulness by offering to research it further.

 

We hope that you found this article on how to ace your university interview informative. You can also check out these Available Programs for International Students to learn more about studying abroad.

About the Author: Hyun Lee

Hi! I am Hyun, and I am the founder at Global Scholarships. I've received a full-tuition scholarship at Birmingham-Southern College and a $1,000 Burger King Scholarship for my undergraduate degree and was offered a fully funded scholarship consisting of tuition, living stipend, and health insurance for computer science Ph.D. program at North Carolina State University. You can read more about my scholarship journey here. If you are interested, you can follow me on Linkedin where I regularly write about scholarship opportunities.

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