Firstly, apologies to anyone who has already had their interview and this comes too late for you! Better late than never, and as far as I know, interview days have only just begun (in my department at least). I know for most people, university interviews are the first formal interview they’ve had – and also seem pretty scary! So having been through the interview process myself I thought I’d just give an overview of what to expect and how to prepare from a students point of view. I had 5 interviews and got all 5 offers so although some of my interviews felt like they hadn’t gone too well, I guess they can’t have been too disastrous!
Firstly, and I know its also probably really unhelpful … but don’t stress out too much! You’ll come accross far better if you weren’t up late the night before cramming stuff. Plus, the kind of stuff you tend to get asked in interviews is either
a) stuff from GCSE sort of level at school that you really should know if you’re seriously applying for your subject
b) the kind of weird obscure stuff that you either know or you don’t…chances of stumbling accross it in a book the night before is close to nil!
However, one thing that it is worth keeping up to date with is current affairs in science – all the little things that have happened in the last 2 weeks, and then all the more major things in the last year or so. (especially anything that relates to topics you mentioned in your personal statement).
Another thing, don’t stress too much about what you wear! I wore smart jeans and a cardigan to my interviews – although there were people there dressed in suits. I went to a fairly casual sixth form though, so I just wouldn’t have felt comfortable in a suit; my advice is just to go wearing something you’d feel comfortable in wearing at school.
A point to bear in mind is also that your interview is partly to see what kind of person you are; not just what you know. So expect to be asked about your hobbies, why you want to come to Imperial or to that course in particular. Imperial seems to quite like ‘well-rounded’ people, as my head teacher used to describe it as – people who manage to do we well in their work, but also find time to enjoy themselves.
Your interview is also a good chance to ask questions. Obviously don’t ask something stupid that you could find out for yourself on Google in a minute, or on the department homepage, but if there is something you were wondering about its a good oppurtunity.
Everyone gets interviewed by a member of acadaemic staff – and one top tip is that researchers love talking to people about their research. So if conversation does start drying up, or there are 5 minutes to fill at the end, its a great bet to ask them about what they research – they’d probably love to tell you!
Bear in mind, even if you think the interview went terribly, you might not necessarily be right! At my Imperial interview I got up and down confused on a graph, nearly died running up 4 flights of stairs in heels after my ultra keen interviewer and then lost his pencil somewhere down the back of his desk – and I still got in!
Afterwards, the best thing to do is just go home and relax. Tell people about it if you want but don’t keep replaying it in your head! You’ll hear soon enough how you’ve done, I don’t think departments normally like to leave you hanging for longer than they have to! I heard from Imperial within about a week of my interview, although I know some people have to wait a little longer.
So good luck to everyone applying!
(and to anyone who gets an interview in Earth Science and Engineering, you might see me as a tour guide/helper on the day! )
And if you have any questions, ask and I’ll do my best to answer them!