Interviews are a huge part of applying for university, for college, for foundation courses and so on. The thing is, nobody really knows what makes a good interview. Every admissions tutor tells you something different, and you’re never really sure which one to go for. I know a lot of people have already started being invited to interview, and let’s face it, interviews are important. They’re literally your chance to prove yourself in person. The fact that you’ve been invited for interview implies that the interviewer does want you, but they just want to be sure that they want you, if that makes sense.
So in the spirit of us all getting decent at interviews, here are a few top tips that were given to me by admissions tutors or during mock interviews.
1. Be confident, but not cocky
Confidence is one thing and arrogance is another. There is undoubtedly a fine line between the two, but most people aren’t huge fans of the very arrogant “natural successors to Matisse and Picasso” – which, I have been told, someone did actually say at an interview. That my friends isn’t confident, that’s cocky. Practising interviews might help you become more confident with the types of questions that will appear in an interview, and in the end might help you stop stuttering and tone down the nerves just a little bit.
2. Always have a go
If the interviewer throws a question at you and you’re not really sure, have a go! Don’t be afraid to tell the person that you’re not sure, but try and give them an answer anyway. It can be really annoying when a candidate just says, “Oh… I dunno.” If you start to panic, take a minute to think about the question before answering, or even just ask if you can have a minute to think about it first. That way at least they can see that you’re actually using your head before dismissing the question.
3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Sometimes it’s not just the interviewer who does the asking. At the end, there’s often a period for you to ask your own questions. Don’t be afraid to actually do so. It can be daunting in front of admissions tutors, but that’s what they’re there for. In fact, a lot of the time they’re quite pleased when you do ask – it shows that you’re assertive, and you’re not afraid to ask for help.
4. Don’t get too nervous
Easier said than done, I know. Remember, they’ve asked you to be there; they want you to be there. Interviews can be testing, but they’re not trying to catch you out. They want to know that you can think on your feet, and when you’re nervous or panicked you might find yourself frozen. The fact you’ve applied for a degree in your subject shows that you know about the field, so as the first point above says, be confident! The situation you’ll be in will be a little frightening, but just be calm. What’s the worst that could happen?
5. Once you’re out, forget about it
When you get out of the interview, don’t start fretting. There’s no point asking, “Did I answer this right? Have I been an idiot?” You can’t go back in there and erase what’s happened – that’s pretty much physically impossible. All you can do is wait for the result. It’s the same as with exams: whenever I get out of one, I promptly forget all of the answers I wrote down so I don’t start spotting stupid mistakes and feeling like I’ve failed. Just look forward to the next interview and try and prepare yourself for that instead.
Interviews are as hard as you make them. All you have to do is know that it’s not the end of the world if you don’t do as well as you think you should have. For all you know, you might actually have done brilliantly because the questions were slowly getting harder and harder. From what I’ve seen, the worse you think it’s gone, the better it actually was… Unless it really did go badly, so perhaps that’s not the best theory to go by. Oh well! Good luck, and I hope this helps all those of you who have interviews.
Thanks for reading. Hope to see you all next week – comments and questions, as always, are welcome. You can get in touch with me in the usual ways, and that’s all from me for now!