My interview for master’s program at the Department of Oncology

By Chitra Yadav @chitraydv

It was early January when I received an email stating that I got shortlisted for the interview. I still remember I got a gap of 3 days for interview preparation. There were three professors in the interview panel for the Masters in Radiation Biology intake, and the interview lasted for around 25 minutes. It included various questions that are listed below.


1. The very first question was about my academic background and questions related to my under-graduate specialization. For example, what made you choose this stream? What could be the most impactful contribution it can bring to modern problems?


2. The second section was more based on my research experience and publication work. There were questions like the contribution of my research work towards major environmental problems? Most importantly, how can I criticize my research work with all possible limitations?

3. The third section included the questions to check my knowledge of cancer, for example, what do I understand by cancer and what makes cancer challenging to treat?


4. The fourth section was about radiation physics, in which they asked about the working mechanisms of radiation on cancer cells. All the possible ways by which radiation can affect the cells? Types of radiation, about EM spectrum, and most importantly, the impact of radiation on non-cancerous cells?


5. The final section was quite diverse in which we discussed the extra-curricular activities, funding options, why I choose oxford? Why do I want to study this course? And lastly, what are my future plans (short-term and long-term goals)?


My experience in this interview was great as the professors were very kind, and we had many interesting discussions on cancer and its treatment. There are some points that one should keep in mind, as they helped me in this interview.


1. The most important thing is being honest. Never pretend like you know the answer if you do not know, as it is completely OK if you are not aware of some things.


2. Make sure you are answerable to each and everything written in your SOP and CV. It is better not to include it if you cannot speak on it.


3. It will give you more confidence if you are aware of the research background of the panellist. You can discuss their work if you get a chance in between.


4. It is vital to have some basic knowledge of the course you are applying to even if it is new for you as it will show that you are really interested in this course.


5. Lastly, being CONFIDENT. It matters a lot how you present yourself, so make sure you are confident enough of who you are and what you know.


I had a mindset of sharing my knowledge and learning something from them rather than pleasing them to take me in. Never lose hope even if you are inexperienced, as it was the first interview of my life.