Today Mi Chelle is sharing her experience of her second Skype interview at Oxford Uni for English Literature and Language...
The structure of the second interview was pretty much the same as my first interview, only this time I was only given one poem and I wasn’t given enough time to print it out since my pre-reading session (20 minutes) was invigilated this time (I guess St Peter’s is stricter?). Luckily I had paper on hand so I just made my notes there as I read the poem from the laptop screen. Because I couldn’t print out and annotate the poem this time, my notes were really messy and all over the place, meaning it was harder to read them during the interview. Despite this, the interview didn’t turn out to be a disaster, and I managed to talk about the motif of birds in the given poem (A. E. Stallings’ Extinction of Silence), linking it to Yeats’ poems (which I studied in A-Levels) when the tutors asked about the use of bird motifs in literature and whether they were only used in one particular way or if there could be many different effects depending on the context.
For the personal statement part of the interview, they asked about my interest in morally-depraved characters and about how I said narratives told from their perspective affects the reading experience. They later on asked about an online course I had taken, asking if there was anything I had learnt that I could talk about in connection to malevolent characters. I talked about how the environment and surroundings of a character can be used to underscore particular aspects of a character, using Miss Havisham and Magwitch from Great Expectations as examples. Overall I found the personal statement bit of this interview much better than in the first interview.
Some general advice for Skype interviews:
Make sure your interview is held in a place with a stable internet connection. I had my interviews at home instead of school since the internet connection was more stable and it was also easier to arrange the interview at home on such short notice.
Have some paper and pens or pencils ready, especially if you’re going to be given a pre-reading and you’ll have to take notes or if you’re going to be asked to work out some questions for the tutors.
If you’re given time to print out your pre-reading before your interview you should do so, since it’ll be easier to take notes.
Test your Skype audio and webcam quality well in advance before the interview.
This didn’t happen during my St Peter’s interview but in my Trinity interview I was asked to do a 360 degree sweep of the room I was in to make sure I was alone. So you should make sure your webcam is manoeuvrable just in case (if you’re doing your interview on a desktop computer instead of a laptop).
Check with the college that’s going to be interviewing you about the Skype account that you’ll be receiving a call from. One of the colleges that interviewed me had more than one Skype account so I had to email them to clarify. This is to save any unnecessary panic before the interview.
Look into the webcam during the interview. Since it’s a Skype interview, you should look into the webcam instead of at the tutors on screen to maintain eye contact with them.
Congrats to everyone who has received offers and all the best to future applicants! You have nothing to lose by applying and no matter the result it’s a huge achievement. When I applied I never expected to get shortlisted for interviews so you’ll never know until you try!