by Sarina Chandaria
Oxford Interviews can definitely be daunting, especially when you don’t know exactly what to expect. I hope that this post will shed a little light onto the interviewing process, specifically for Geography.
Before You Arrive in Oxford
Try to organise a mock interview - either with your Geography teacher at school or even by getting a friend or family member to ask you some interview-style questions. Getting in the habit of thinking out loud is key for interviews as the interviewers want to know how you think about things. It really isn’t about getting the ‘correct’ answer but rather showing you have the analytical and cognitive skills to tackle the tasks they set you.
Oxford interviews require you to stay overnight, I personally found dealing with having to socialise with new people alongside the pressure of interviews a bit overwhelming. Packing things for you to do in your down time is key. I brought a book and my meditative colouring book which really helped me relax. Of course, if you enjoy the social aspect, interviews can be a fantastic place to meet new people!
For Geography Interviews at Christ Church, I had one Human Geography interview and one Physical Geography Interview. Mine were both in the same day with the Human one at 10am and the Physical at 5.30pm. I brought several journal articles with me as well as my revision notes to review before my interviews. I was especially nervous about doing well as I was applying for a deferred place and I was told this would make it less likely for me to be offered a place. My interviewers, however, were really lovely - they definitely made me feel at ease and always encouraged me to keep talking or explaining my ideas if I faltered.
My Human interview included:
● A question asking me -If you had to remove everything except one thing on your Personal Statement what would be left?
● An unseen image that I was asked to make, discuss and disprove several hypotheses about.
● A statistic about subsistence farming was read out to me and I was asked to make several comments about it.
My Physical interview included:
● Being given an unseen three axis graph and asked to hypothesise what it was showing (it was of temperature change and another variable in the layers of the atmosphere)
● Being given an unlabelled World Mapper image and asked to think about what statistic it could be describing (it was fossil fuel use in the late 20th century).
● Being asked my opinions on one of the books I put in my personal statement
● Being asked ‘why Geography’
● Being asked if I had any thoughts on what I might write my dissertation on
I found that hanging out with other geographers, while lovely, proved to be more than a little stressful as people would discuss how their interviews went - which ultimately made me doubt my own answers. I’m the type of person who hates discussing exams after they’re over, so I exited these types of conversations very quickly. It’s important to realise that after your interviews are over that you’ve done your level best and at this point, whilst it’s tricky not to, you shouldn’t constantly revisit what you said or did. However, I do recommend writing down your interview experience as soon as you finish, including what questions were asked, as you never know who you could help in the future!
I had to spend some extra time waiting to see if I was to be called for another interview, so I took this opportunity to explore Oxford. During interview time, the Christmas Market was set up, so I got to try out some wonderful food (and mulled wine!) as well as taking the time to explore the Ashmolean. It was a great way to get my mind off of everything and enjoy being in a new city. I know of some other interviewees who set up a group ice skating trip, which could also be a fun way to de-stress!