University Interview Questions

University Interview Questions

You’ve completed your personal statement, submitted your UCAS application and you’ve been lucky enough to get an interview. Now comes the real test – the interview itself. So what are the most commonly asked university interview questions, and how can you prepare for the big day?

Know your stuff

One of the easiest ways to prepare for your university interview is to make sure you know your stuff. Read as much as you can about your course, the department and the university. This will help you prepare for commonly asked interview questions such as:

  • Why have you chosen this subject?
  • Why do you want to study this subject here?
  • Which courses are you most interested in and why
  • What attracts you to this department at this university?
  • Why have you chosen this university?

You should aim to tell them what they want to hear, but without being overly flattering or sycophantic. After all, there probably were good reasons why you made your choice.

Know yourself

Your own character and personality will be as important to your interviewers as your academic abilities, so you need to take some time to think about your strengths and weaknesses and how best to present them. You may be asked questions such as:

  • What do you consider your greatest strength?
  • What is your biggest weakness?
  • How do you discipline yourself to work hard?
  • Are you more of a thinker or a doer?

There are no correct answers to these type of questions, and it is all about how you phrase your answers. Be modest, yet make sure you get your strengths across. Be humble, yet make sure you don’t sound weak.

Know how to stand out at interview

All the students who have been asked for interview will have broadly similar academic achievements, so you need to look out for commonly asked questions at university interviews that help you to stand out. When you get the chance, make it clear that you are an interesting and dynamic person who explores the world and tries new things. You will get the chance to do this through questions such as:

  • What extra-curricular activities do you do at school?
  • What do you do with your spare time?
  • Do you have any hobbies or interests?
  • What would you do if you won the lottery?

Be as interesting and original as possible, but make sure you are honest too. Interviewers are very experienced and will see through a made up paragliding hobby very quickly!

Look out for the tricky question

Two types of question can really throw you. One is the very straightforward:

  • Tell me about yourself (or how would you teachers/schoolmates describe you?)

This can be really awkward for many people, who hate talking about themselves, and it can be just as big a trap for people who like talking about themselves a bit too much. The best solution is to consider this question in advance and compose a succinct and interesting answer that you can deliver in a natural way without sounding scripted.

The second kind of very tricky question is the unexpected question right out of the blue, maybe nothing to do with you or your background or the university. These questions are asked as a test to see how you react. They are a test of your ability to think on your feet, to think laterally, to apply your brain to new problems and to work under pressure.

There are endless stories, mostly apocryphal, about these kinds of questions, and there is no way to really prepare for them. You simply have to try to stay calm and give the best, and most creative, answer you can.