Managing anxiety before your Oxford interview

By Natalie Bright


Interviews are renowned for being anxiety inducing, with ‘anxiety before an interview’ gaining over 125,000,000 hits on Google. Your Oxford interview is no exception, if anything due to the sheer pressure you may feel riding on it, this may be exasperated. Although it is easy to focus on your upcoming interview, try and enjoy the build-up, being proud of the massive achievement of being offered it in the first place.


In the days before your interview, it can be calming to plan answers to some simple questions around your personal statement and subject. Such as ‘Why Biology?’ or ‘What did your EPQ teach you?’. By feeling more prepared it can relieve some nerves. You may also have the opportunity to take a mock interview, for example with a teacher or governor at your school. These can be a really useful practice and help reduce your anxiety ahead of the real thing. However, don’t panic if they don’t go as well as you hoped – they’re only a practice and for some having someone you know ask the questions is actually worse!


On the night before, I would suggest doing something relaxing such as having a bath, watching a film or facetiming a friend. It is obviously great if you can get a good night’s sleep; but try not to agonise over it if you are unable to - adrenaline will certainly prevent you nodding off in the interview!


On the morning of your interview, try to talk to other people to take your mind off it. if you really can’t focus on anything else, just talking to someone about your anxiety can help. A problem shared really can be a problem halved. On the other hand, if your interview is online, use being at home in a familiar environment to your advantage. Go on your favourite local walk and try and remember regardless of how the interview goes, everything will still be the same tomorrow.


It can also help to feel confident within yourself – even if deep down you’re not. For example, I did a full face of makeup before my interview as this helps me feel ready to face anything!


At the end of the day, anxiety ahead of your interview just shows how much you care. However, if you genuinely believe it may affect your performance, speak to your interviewer at the start. It can be difficult but try to remember that they will have seen it all before and are just normal people that want you to feel comfortable.


Finally, remember that anxiety doesn’t define you and should not be a barrier for you achieving your full potential, be it at Oxford or at another great university.