University Interview Advice

Good JobCongratulations if you have been invited for an interview for a university place! This means that the university have considered your application and have identified you as a candidate for a place at their university.

Now it is time to WOW them at the interview and secure your place on the course and at the university that you want!

This advice will help you prepare for your interview! However, if you have any other questions add  Comparetheuni on twitter and we will be happy to help!


  • Get a good sleep the night before the interview.
  • Arrive around 20 minutes early. This gives you time to collect your thoughts and relax before the interview.
  • Maintain eye contact. This shows confidence and maturity. (But don’t stare out or intimidate your interviewer!)
  • Dress reasonably smart.  (Wearing a Slipknot hoody is probably not advised!)
  • Don’t fidget.
  • Listen to what is being asked.
  • Take your time answering questions- it is better to wait two seconds to process the question than to jump straight in and answer incorrectly.

1. Be prepared to discuss your personal statement!

Ensure that you know your personal statement inside out! An interviewer may use this as a base for the interview and therefore, you must be prepared to discuss anything you may have written in your personal statement. Therefore, if you mention a particular book, lecturer, theorist or even a film make sure that you know enough to have an intelligent conversation about them!

2. Student competency based questions.

These questions will test your competencies and transferable skills. Common questions include:

  • Can you give an example of a time you used initiative?
  • Give me an example of when you have overcome a problem?
  • Give an example of when you have led a team?
  • Have you ever had to deal with a difficult customer/student/team player and what was the result?

How to answer competency based questions.

Competency based questions require you to draw on past experiences in   order to demonstrate that you possess the competency.  One technique which will help you to answer competency-based questions effectively is the S.T.A.R. technique:

Situation- Describe the situation

Task- Describe the task at hand

Action- Describe what action you took to combat the task.

Result-  Describe the result of your action

3. Read around the course and the university you intend to study at.

Be prepared to answer questions such as:

  •  Why do you want to study at this university?
  • Why do you want to study this particular course and not another?

Therefore, ensure you can differentiate the university you are interviewing at to another university. Highlight positive elements of the university/course for example:

  • Great rankings.
  • Good calibre of lecturers/researchers/teachers.
  • Liked the atmosphere during an open day.
  • Structure of the course (perhaps may have a year abroad which is attractive or a placement year).
  • Specific modules.
  • Course specific extras – for example may have a Legal Advice Centre attached to the university, which would be an added benefit to a prospective law student.

4. Be up-to-date with current affairs.

Interviewers may ask for your opinion on a current affair. Therefore, it would be wise to read a decent paper such as The Times/The Guardian in order to have a good grasp of current affairs.  Ensure you formulate an opinion and can discuss this with the interviewer if required. It is fine if your opinion is different to the interviewers, what is important is that you can justify and rationalise your views effectively.

5. Questions about you!

During your interview you may be asked general questions about yourself.

Although this may sound straight forward whilst in an interview these questions may catch you off guard! Prior to your interview it would be worth creating a mind map with yourself as the topic! Outline your:

  • Strengths,
  • Weaknesses
  • Hobbies,
  • Goals and aspirations,
  • Awards,
  • Responsibilities
  • As well as anything else relevant.

 “What is your weakness?” is a question that catches a lot of students off guard!

To answer this question you should identify something, which is not critical to your course. So don’t say you have a problem with analysing things carefully if you are applying to study law! Instead identify a weakness and back it up with what you are doing to become better.

EXAMPLE: “I struggled with public speaking as I was fairly shy however, I have joined a debating class in order to combat this and have vastly improved as a result.”

6. Ask the interviewer questions at the end.

Ensure that you have pre-prepared questions which you can ask the interviewer when given the opportunity (usually at the end of the interview).

This will show confidence, engagement and help to make an impression on the interviewer.