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Spare Time at Interviews

By Elizabeth Fair

For me, one of the strangest things about interviews was having so much spare time. Having come from a school sixth form, I was used to every minute of my day being timetabled and very little spare time. At interview, however, I only had six compulsory things – a welcome meeting with my tutors, an aural test, an audition, and three interviews. This left me with so much spare time during my five day stay (Sunday to Thursday). At first, I was unsure with what to do with my time, so hopefully this blog post will give you a few suggestions and pointers to make the most of your time in Oxford.

Like me, you might turn up in Oxford with the intentions to complete all of the work your school tutors have set you, as well as revising for interviews and mock exams. This is perfectly normal, however, I would recommend that you don’t hide yourself away in your room to complete it (although you can if you need the personal down time!). Oxford has so many good coffee shops which you could go and work in – why not go and work in Oxford’s Own, G&D’s? Or ask your student helpers for recommendations – there’s certainly plenty of choice and variety! It’s a good way to get to know the local area whilst being productive. What I would say is don’t worry if you don’t get all the work done before you return, I certainly didn’t! My teachers were fine with this, as they thought the interview process was very intense so they weren’t surprised I hadn’t got it done.

I would strongly recommend you spend some time socialising too. It isn’t wrong to spend time in your room, but even as an introvert, I found the time spent with others really useful. I spent so much time in the JCR (Junior Common Room) playing fiercely intense table football matches and talking to other interviewees. I found this stopped me from ruminating on the parts of the interviews which hadn’t gone so well and altogether made the interview experience much more enjoyable for me. As a bonus, I made friends then who are now some of my best friends in college.

You could also spend some time exploring the grounds of your college or Oxford city centre – after all, you are never going to get free bed and board in Oxford again! At interview, I stayed at Magdalen College, so one of the things I chose to do was go for a walk around the deer park (Addison’s Walk). I found this a good way to de-stress, as I walked around it with someone I had met earlier in the week and we spent the time chatting about how our interviews went. Spending time in nature helps me to de-stress, so for me this was perfect and such a change to the busy JCR. I know friends who spent time visiting some of the tourist attractions in Oxford too – I believe you get free entry to the Ashmolean, and the Botanic Garden is well worth a visit if you love the outdoors like me!

Christmas shopping is another popular activity among interviewees – the Christmas market is often up and there are so many shopping centres which you can visit as well as the covered market. It might be a good idea to get presents here if you want to make the most of being out of the sight of your parents to get gifts they won’t know about.

I hope this blog post has given you some ideas of things you could do while at interview. I think the most important thing to remember is to enjoy yourself outside of the interview room, whatever that looks like for you – this will help you perform at your best. There are so many more options for you to take part in (e.g. student helpers often run activities in the evenings, which are usually great fun), so please don’t take this as a definitive guide. Good luck with your interviews!


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