Interviews are a staple part of the Cambridge admissions process, and are co-ordinated by the colleges at undergraduate level. Everyone with a realistic chance of being offered a place to study at Cambridge is invited to attend an interview – that's around 75 per cent of applicants each year. So if you receive an interview invitation it means we are seriously considering you for a place at Wolfson. Remember, the interview is just one part of the admissions process, so don't think of it as make-or-break, it's just another chance for you to shine!
All students who come to Wolfson will sit an admissions assessment on the same day as their interviews (the only exceptions are Medicine and Veterinary Medicine students who take their assessments in advance). This assessment is designed to supplement the information in your application and to provide a gauge of your abilities. You will attend two interviews, each of which lasts around half an hour. For some subjects, you will be interviewed by more than one College or in the Faculty: you will be notified of this in your interview letter.
In one interview you will be interviewed by an Admissions Tutor and the Director of Studies (DoS) in your chosen subject. DoSs are listed on the relevant subjects page and are responsible for organising your study programme and monitoring your progress should you be offered a place. The other interview will be delivered by relevant members of Faculty. Some subject interviewers will be looking for evidence that you have grasped enough of the theoretical, mathematical or scientific concepts necessary to thrive on our degree course. Others will be testing your analytical skills and ability to develop, illustrate and sustain an argument.
You will also be given the opportunity to ask us anything you wish us to know and to discuss the course, College or Cambridge University.
Interviewing at Wolfson
We provide meals free of charge while you are with us and also offer you overnight accommodation if you have come from overseas. You will typically find current students who will welcome you when you arrive in College, guide you to the interview rooms and chat with you about the College and their experiences here. If you stay overnight, they usually invite you to dine together or to drop in and chat over drinks and biscuits during the evening.
- You should dress comfortably for interview; there is no need to wear formal clothing.
- Inform yourself widely about your chosen subject. You can do this by reading beyond the immediate remit of your curriculum, such as finding journal articles, and engaging in extracurricular activities.
- Have a practice interview with someone you do not know well. This could be a senior teacher or lecturer in your current school, college or workplace.
- Most questions in Cambridge interviews are what one might term ‘what/why’ questions. In other words we might ask you what you make of a problem and then ask you to explain or justify your position. Practice discussion and analysis – talk informally to your teachers and lecturers, your family or your friends about questions that interest you. Try to explain to them clearly what you think about particular issues, and why.
- Keep a copy of your application and any other material you have submitted, and read it in advance. Keep in mind that we will be discussing your application material with you during interview.
A new student advice website, InsideUni, compiles tips from over 700 successful applicants for your benefit. You can read their tips for interviews in different subjects here. There is also general information available via the Cambridge University website.
- Remind yourself of your motivation, why do you want to study at Cambridge and why is the course right for you?
- Re-read your application and personal statement, and be ready to discuss the things you've said and studied.
- Get to the College in good time so you avoid any unnecessary stress.
- Watch this videos for more tips!
In this video, you can see four example interviews so you can get a sense of the kind of questions you might be asked. Throughout the video there are pointers on what the interviewers are looking for.
- Listen carefully
- If you don't understand something, ask for clarification
- Don't be afraid to take a moment to gather your thoughts
- Be yourself!
Remember that the interviewers are not trying to trick or scare you, they just want to know if you're right for the course. In fact, many students even enjoy the experience! It's also normal to think the interview has gone badly, according to one of the InsideUni founders, the majority of contributors thought their interview had gone terribly, but they all ended up getting a place. So don't be disheartened if you think you give a poor answer to one question, try and let it go, turn over a new page, and approach the next question as a fresh start. GOOD LUCK!