In the interview hot-seat

What admissions tutors are likely to ask... and how to respond.
Hands of an interviewee

Why do you want to do the course/research?

Try to convey your enthusiasm and motivation. Don't try to write what you think they want to hear: write your real reasons. Write about any relevant projects or dissertations you have done. Mention any prizes you have won, travel or study abroad and relevant employment. Describe anything that shows creativity, dependability or independence.

Why this subject?

Be clear about the reasons for your choice. When did you become interested in this subject and what have you learned about it? What insights have you gained? How have you learned about this field?

Why this college?

Be specific: is the programme noted for a particular emphasis, specialty or orientation? Are there specific academic staff you want to do research or study with? What is it about the structure of the course, or the choice of modules, that appeals to you?

What skills can you offer?

They may ask about academic skills (eg computing skills, knowledge of relevant scientific techniques, research skills) and transferable skills (eg team working, communication, working under pressure, time management). They may also ask what personal skills you can offer, so you'll need to demonstrate that you have done your homework about the course/research and that you have considered your own strengths and weaknesses.

Have you had to overcome any obstacles or hardships in your life?

This may show evidence of determination and resilience.

What are your strengths?

This is a 'why you?' question. If you can't answer this, don't expect the selectors to answer it for you!

What is the relevance of your first degree to this study?

If necessary, point out any circumstances that may have affected your academic results.

What is your career aim?

You may not have a very clear focus on what you want to do afterwards, but you should have some ideas. A clear direction will strengthen your commitment to do well in your studies.

Other questions you may be asked that feed into this are:

  • Have you considered potential areas of research?
  • Tell me about your project/disseration. How did you choose it? What have you learned?
  • How do you intend to fund your study?