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What to Wear? Are the tutors scary? What happened?

By Anna Bodman

I remember the feeling of dread that settled over me when I said goodbye to my mum at the gates of University College for my four-day long interview. I was very overwhelmed, made worse by the fact I had about a thousand questions swirling round in my head and no idea who to ask in fear of sounding stupid! So, in ode of past me, here are my five biggest questions about the interview process and my answers from the perspective of a PPE student interviewed at Univ!

What happened?

I had three interviews – one for each discipline, spread out over two days. For each interview, I was given 20 minutes preparation time to read an unseen passage. For politics, this was an abstract theoretical article and the other two were problem sheets with written questions attached about logic and game theory - they purposely pick something that you’ve haven’t covered before! My interviews were 20mins long and were mainly focussed on these stimuli however I was briefly asked about my personal statement in politics. My top tips are to bring a highlighter, be confident with your personal statement and don’t be afraid to say I don’t know! I think that sometimes they would rather you be honest so that they can move on to something that shows your ability better, I certainly made use of that in economics!

What should I wear?

Something you feel comfy in! The ‘smart casual’ dress code can be daunting but honestly there is such a range - I wore some comfy smart trousers and a shirt and felt fine. Definitely bring a warm coat and some comfortable PJs!

What does it all mean?

The scariest thing about the four day process was finding out who had been pooled on the last day – their names appeared on the notice board and, seeing mine hadn’t been posted, I thought I was officially done and been rejected already. Please don’t think that. The pooling process is a strange, secretive process that you shouldn’t try to second guess, it’s there to help your chances, not hinder them! Try to relax and don’t second guess - but do remember to check those notice boards.

What do I do when not in interviews?

Four days in Oxford for only 3x20 minute interviews seems bizarre - and it did involve a lot of sitting around! Bring your schoolwork and take the opportunity to explore the city because, if you do end up here, it’s nice to be familiarised. I wandered down to Westgate shopping centre, the covered market and the University Parks – I would beg you to do the same! Don’t feel pressured to spend all day mingling with other candidates, as I know that made me doubt myself, but do try to attend all dinners and make some time to check out the JCR and their activities.

Are the tutors scary?

It’s slightly intimidating to sit across from three masters of their fields, but I promise you they are only there to help extract the best from you. I am not going to say that that horrible feeling of anxiety will go away, because it won’t, but I promise you that its manageable and everyone is there to help.


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