How to Impress at University Interviews (Taken loosely from a briefing sheet issued by the University of Greenwich) The main hurdle in the great university applications race, the UCAS form, may now be safely out of the way, but for some students another experience looms – the university interview! You may have heard that because of time constraints, many university departments don’t interview these days, but some do and for courses where you will be meeting and dealing with the public, they will definitely want to meet you and assess your suitability before offering you a place. Although having an interview might seem an ordeal, in fact it is an opportunity to find out more about the course and to sell yourself to the admissions tutor in a way that no application form can. If you can see the interview as a two- way thing you will feel a lot less pressurised and will get a lot more out of it. The interviewer wants you to decide that this is the best place for you. PREPARING FOR THE INTERVIEW Read the prospectus again – or for the first time! The tutor is interested in how committed you are to studying the course. If you haven’t a clue how they deliver the course it will not impress. If your letter does not make it clear what form the interview will take – one to one, group, interview panel, conversation in a foreign language, … CHECK!!! If you feel nervous about the process, arrange a mock-interview with friends, your tutor, someone else in college, a family member, someone you meet through your part time job, …………. Read through your copy of your UCAS form that you have carefully filed away at home. Make sure you know what you have said! Read newspapers as many interviews involve general questions and may well touch on current affairs. Your General Studies sessions will help to prepare you for this. Look for guides on interviews in your chosen subject area – we have some in Student Services. THE INTERVIEW Dress reasonably smartly but be comfortable: this is not the best time to break in a new pair of shoes. Try to relax – a good interviewer will expect nerves and will try to put you at your ease. Be early, as you can look round, have a drink and generally get a feel for the place. You will probably have the opportunity to meet students already on the course. If you are going to be late for reasons beyond your control, ring up as soon as the problem arises, they will expect trains to be cancelled and such like and will be happy to rearrange things. Be prepared to talk about your subject choices and your current studies – at least for some of the interview. Try to give full answers, the interviewer is not a mind reader, but don’t waffle. Don’t rush into your answers, think them through carefully and admit that you don’t know if that is the case. Don’t worry too much about body language – this is often mentioned in guides to interview skills, but if you are preoccupied with how best to arrange your arms to convey deep intellect you will not be able to concentrate on answering the question! Similarly, it can be off-putting for an interviewer to have the interviewee staring intently at him/her for the entire interview in order to maintain eye-contact at all costs. It is not advised that you stare out of the window the whole time either. Try and seem enthusiastic at all interviews and prepare some questions to ask in return. How is the course assessed? What teaching methods are used? What did last year’s graduates move on to? What accommodation is available? Sport? Computers? Sandwich placements? Links with industry? Opportunities abroad? …Make sure these questions are not answered in the prospectus! AFTER THE INTERVIEW Go over it in your mind and think how/if you can improve on it next time. Consider your opinion of the university now that you have seen it – write down the answers to your questions so you don’t forget them. Sit back and wait for the offer!
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