After weeks of preparation, including talking to my family about my subject to practice verbalising concepts, the 3rd of December had arrived. I travelled to Oxford and arrived at the college to which I had applied. I was very nervous, however, when I entered the college the students were so welcoming and had created such a laid-back atmosphere, we relaxed. It was definitely what us interviewees needed. The students provided me with my interview timetable which told me where and when my interviews were being held. In the late afternoon of my first day we met our interviewers - the Biochemistry tutors at the college. They introduced themselves and talked us through what the interviews would entail, which helped to put us at ease.
My first interview was on the 4th December and my second was on 5th December at another college. I spent the hours before my interviews in my room looking over my AS and further reading notes until it was time to go to the Interview Hub. Here, the students involved us in a game of charades to prevent us becoming too nervous just before the interview, and this really did work.
For the first interview, for the first twenty minutes, I was given a piece of writing on viruses to look over and write notes on. I found this was great to engage my brain before my interview. This did not happen at my second interview, which is a testament to the fact that all interviews are different and vary dramatically between colleges. Both interviews started with questions from my Personal Statement which included discussing an experiment I had carried out on the Oxford UNIQ summer school. I was then asked the question which I considered they wouldn’t ask – “Why Biochemistry?”. I had heard rumours before coming to the interview that tutors never ask anything from your personal statement or ask you “Why have you chosen this subject?” but this was not the case as this came up in both of my interviews. This shows that you can never predict what the tutors are going to ask so do not listen to rumours prior to your interview and just go in with an open mind.
Both interviews also had many problem solving questions which included some simple maths. I felt that this part of my second interview went horribly and I actually came out of the interview upset because I was so annoyed at myself. However, I was offered a place which goes to show that it is really hard to gauge how well the interview went. The interviewers know that you are nervous and take this into account; they are not looking for the perfect interview but someone who they consider they can teach and has a genuine passion for the subject. Overall, the interviews are actually very enjoyable and academically stimulating. I was so grateful for the chance to talk about a subject I enjoy so much with some of the top academics in their field.
Besides the interviews there were so many activities to get involved with and people to meet. I was afraid I wouldn’t make any friends but I have come away from the interviews with friends for life. Friends are made quickly as you are all in the same boat. There was no sign of competitiveness between people applying for the same subject; everyone was so friendly and down-to-earth. The evening activities were definitely one of the highlights as they took our mind off the pressure and allowed us to have fun. The activities in my college included a late evening trip to G&Ds Ice Cream, a quiz, a fun film night, an evening walk around Oxford, and gingerbread decorating. There were also some games of Mario Kart on the JCR Wii and we had a lot of fun playing our invention of “Ginger Beer Pong”. These activities, however, were not compulsory so if you wanted to stay in your room and study or watch Netflix then you were more than welcome to do so. Interviews were such a great experience and I will never forget the fun I had.