PPE Interview

By Jennifer Hwang


There are many myths surrounding the interview process so this will hopefully clear some of them up and reassure anyone that is feeling nervous (which is completely normal).


I applied to read PPE at Christ Church. Interviews are held by the college you applied to, although some people get moved to another college pre interviews and if you made an open application, you will be assigned a college. There is no meaning behind if you get moved to another college when you get invited to interview!


I was scheduled to have two interviews, I was one of the few who had both scheduled for the first day of interviews. I dreaded having them both in the same day but it also turned out to be a good thing as I had time to explore Oxford stress-free! You are told to wait around for a few days even after interviews as there is a chance that you might get asked to do an interview at another college. Again, there is no need to be worried if this happens to you! I know a friend who was interviewed at three different colleges and she got a place! I also know a friend who was only interviewed at the college she applied to and then got a place at another college. All colleges are lovely so do not stress out if this happens!


My first interview was a philosophy one and this lasted half an hour. I was given a thought experiment to respond to. I was not asked anything technical, as will often be the case with humanities as having studied philosophy is not a prerequisite for PPE. I was initially asked: Imagine an island with around 20 people and they live by the law do not do anything immoral, would this be good society? This then led to a discussion where the tutor would continuously challenge my view. Some good advice would be to practice thinking out loud as the tutors want to see how you approach a question and what your thought process is.


My second interview was in the same room and took place right after my first. This was a half an hour economics interview. Some questions I was asked: How can you measure how rich a country is? Why are there differences in countries’ wealth? What do you mean by human capital, aspects that are easy to measure give example and those that are harder to measure? Why might there be lower start up rates in UK vs America? Again, they do not assume any economic knowledge but you should have some basic economic understanding.


My third interview was an hour long politics interview. I had two tutors, one led for the first half and the other for the second half. Some things I was asked: In your opinion what is the most powerful nation? Why? Where does this power come from? In the second half, it was very analytical and I had to interpret a graph. But again, I had not studied politics before so had no technical knowledge and was not asked anything technical.



Top Tips

· Have a go! Even if you think you cannot answer it, throw out an idea as often bravery in thought is what they are looking for.

· Do not be put off if they are taking notes, this will usually be the case.

· Speak clearly and confidently.

· Do not be afraid to ask them to repeat the question.

· Practice thinking out loud as well as have mock interviews with friends and family.

· Lastly, enjoy the process! It should be an exciting opportunity to debate some really interesting topics and be challenged by some pretty amazing people!