When I received my invitation for a Law interview at Worcester College I was ecstatic but also very nervous- I didn’t really have any idea what to expect. No-one from my school has ever had an Oxford interview and especially not for Law. I had spoken to the ambassadors when I was on the UNIQ Summer School about interviews but not in huge depth as I never imagined I would get one. So, here is everything I wish I had known before my interview…
I arrived on Tuesday evening to college and was shown to my room by one of the lovely student helpers who made me feel so calm and at ease. She also showed me around college and to places like the dining hall and JCR- as well as this I was given a huge information pack with maps and everything I could have ever needed.
Once had I settled in, I checked the interview times and found that my interviews were late on Wednesday and midday on Tuesday, I also found out that I had 10 minutes of pre-reading time before the interview on Thursday, knowing this relaxed me and allowed me to plan my time out. We were given a lot of freedom with how we spent our time and the only rule was that we had to be back in college for 10:30pm- this was great as I had quite a few friends from UNIQ who were also there for interview and it gave us a chance to catch up which also provided a very well needed distraction from the thought of interview.
I think everyone is very different in how they prepare for interview and how they cope with their nerves. Personally, I found it was best to be distracted right up until I had to go for interview by being with friends and doing things around the city. If you think you’re like this but don’t know anyone going for interview then don’t worry- everyone is so lovely and you will quickly find friends and people to spend time with. Others prefer to stay by themselves and read their personal statement and books they’ve written about. Both of these are great coping techniques, do what feels right for you and what will make you feel most relaxed and ignore what others around you are doing. I found that the staircase I was staying on was very mixed with the subjects people were being interviewed for- I’m assuming this was intentional by the college as it prevents people of the same subject making each other nervous about interview and also allows you to mingle with a great mix of people.
Now for the actual interviews… About an hour before my first one was when the nerves really kicked in but luckily I had a very supportive friend on hand to help me out. I walked to the room for pre-reading where I was given a pack containing a statute on defective goods (more interesting than it sounds, I promise), some guidance on when/how the law should be applied and then a short case. I had to read all the information and decide who I thought could be sued for damages and how. Everyone who I have since spoken to about this was astounded, as I was being asked to complete this task without ever having actually studied law, but I promise you don’t need to know anything about the law to do well in the interview (although I’m assuming you will have some idea about the subject if you are applying to Oxford to study it). Everything I needed to know was on that piece of paper so if you don’t study law for A-Level either then do not worry. Once I entered the interview room and sat down (I was sat on one sofa opposite my two interviewers on another sofa- it was so casual!) I was immediately at ease, the interviewers were so lovely and couldn’t have been less intimidating- I think they broke every ‘Oxford interviewer’ stereotype they could have. The first half of the interview was purely based on the statute and case where one of the interviewers asked who I thought could be sued and which part of the statute proved this. Then he began to change the situation and minor details in the case and I had to adapt my answer. I actually found this enjoyable even though it was challenging. The second part of the interview was focused more on the morality of this particular law, why it existed and the purpose it served. I found this more difficult as it was less obviously ‘right or wrong’ but the interviewer really helped to guide me in the right direction until I reached my answer.
My second interview was equally as casual and relaxed and the interviewers again were lovely. They began by asking me what I would do if I couldn’t do a Law degree anymore (which took me aback) and then asked me what A-levels I take (English Literature, Economics and Chemistry) and asked me to teach them something from Chemistry (this took me aback even more) so I then proceeded to give a quick lesson on the formation of Esters- not something you would ever expect in a Law interview. Following this I was given a piece of Roman Law about private and public land (again more interesting than it sounds) and we discussed what I thought it meant and how it could be applied to different situations. I was somewhat critical of the law and was then asked to re-phrase it in what I thought to be a better way - which was interesting. The second half of the interview was far more philosophical and giving my opinion on why different laws exist in different countries. This was incredibly challenging but very fun and the interviewers really engaged with me so it was far more like a conversation or a debate than an interview.
Both my interviews lasted 30 minutes but flew by end felt like 5 minutes. As much as I enjoyed them, I left both feeling rather perplexed and had absolutely no idea if I had done ‘well’ (clearly I did something right as I now have an offer but I couldn’t pinpoint and tell you what it was) and everyone I have spoken to says the same. We were then told we had to wait until Thursday evening to see if we had any more interviews at other colleges. As it turned out, none of us were sent anywhere else and we were free to leave. The college were great, as we found out quite late on Thursday evening we all stayed the extra night and had a relaxed evening in college (table tennis, Wii Sports and Hot chocolate until early hours of the morning) which was such a lovely way to end the interview experience.
More of Izzy's Top Tips coming soon!