By Minke Du Toit
Preparation for the interview
In order to prepare for my interview I read through my personal statement a couple of times and annotated it to make sure that I was familiar with everything that I had written about. I questioned myself upon topics and specific laws that I had referenced within my personal statement, trying to make sure that I was prepared for any question that the interviewers could ask about my personal statement. Also, one of my teachers asked me questions about it, making sure that I was prepared to answer any questions about it as well as feeling comfortable to do so. In addition, I read recent articles and legislations that were to do with the topics of law that I had referenced in my personal statement in the weeks leading up to my interviews to assert that my knowledge was up to date as law is always evolving. Looking back upon my interviews, I was only asked one question upon my personal statement and it was on an aspect of law that I had only written about in one sentence throughout the entirety of my personal statement so do make sure that every minor detail you write in your personal statement you are familiar with and have knowledge on!
Furthermore, I watched youtube videos (i found the ones by Jesus College specifically helpful for law) on practice law interviews and practice questions. If I was watching a video of a practice interview I would pause the video and try to answer the questions myself and then afterwards see what the interviewee said. This helped me to not only prepare thinking independently but I could also see what another person’s answer would be, aiding me to expand my perspectives and different ways that a specific legislation or statute can be interpreted. Also, the videos by Jesus college were extremely helpful as it presented theoretical questions that could be asked in a law interview which helped me to think in a way that I usually would not - for the questions you would have to think entirely out of the box, helping me to expand on my way of thinking. Whilst watching these videos i would say and explain my answers out loud as in the interviews you have to speak your thought process so this was a good way of practising this! Although my interviews for law were in fact not theoretical, like the videos I had watched, they really helped me understand how to think of different perspectives and were great practice for voicing my thoughts out loud.
I had two interviews, both were 30 minutes long and with two interviewers. They were on two consecutive days and I was notified that I had interviews two weeks before the first interview took place. For law interviews you only need to have Microsoft teams downloaded and no additional technology.
My first interview did not have any pre-reading and as the interview started they asked me a question about my personal statement which helped me to ease into the interview process. Then, they shared a statute on the screen (as the interview is online) and then after reading it for approximately a minute or two they asked me a series of questions about the statute. Both interviewers gave me a series of scenarios for me to apply the statute to. However, I did not feel as though this was intimidating but rather just an interesting conversation where they would present interesting ideas that I would never have even considered. As it is an interview of course you will be nervous, however, remember to try and enjoy it! You have the opportunity to speak to people who are experts in the topic that you want to study and have an interesting discussion with them. If you are given a statute in your interview (or any piece of writing) try and answer the interviewer’s questions using specific words from the statute or ideas that you have grasped from it as they want to see that you are learning and using the information that you have been given - the interviewer’s are looking from someone who is teachable.
In my second interview I was given pre-reading to do where I was given 40 minutes to read the summary and outline of a case. In this interview I found that when I joined the call we just went straight into the case and I was immediately asked questions about it. Also, anything that I used to explain or come to a conclusion with I would be further asked about so make sure that what you say or refer to you can fully explain! Like my previous interview, the two interviewers took turns asking me questions upon the case and they gave me scenarios to apply the case to.
First and foremost whether you receive an Oxford interview or not, be extremely proud of yourself as even just applying is an amazing thing to do! If you do receive an interview i think my main piece of advice would be to make sure you have an opinion about everything they ask you - even if you do not know the answer speak your thought process out loud and show that you can still think of ideas and be able to dissect complicated questions and have independent thoughts upon it. Interviewers want you to think independently and creatively about a complex question and problem instead of shying away. Specifically for law interviews, my advice would be that if they give you reading make sure when you answer the questions they ask, use specific words or terms from the reading they have given you - for the subject of law these interviewers are looking for someone who can spot detail. Finally, despite the nerves that you will be feeling, try to make sure that you are confident and engaged.
Good luck with your applications!