Oxbridge Interview Top Tips
There’s no perfect strategy to prepare for your Oxbridge interview and every applicant will approach preparation uniquely. However, getting used to engaging with content beyond your A-Level course through podcasts, additional reading, YouTube etc. will expose you to content that may be useful when tackling the questions.
Volunteering or extracurricular undertakings can assist you in developing the necessary communication skills and help you cope with the pressure of interviews. Getting used to vocalising scientific content with your peers is great preparation and simply getting used to challenging content you come across in lessons is all good practice.
Similarly, being up-to-date with current developments (e.g. COVID vaccines, NHS backlogs, plans for social care) and knowing your personal statement inside out can help avoid awkward moments during the interview. Information on current affairs can be found on The Aspiring Medics website at:
Whatever you do to prepare, do it regularly and get into good habits a few months before the interview.
Tips for during the interview
For many questions you won’t have an answer immediately so talking tutors through your thought process helps them keep pace with your thoughts as well as identify any flaws in your thinking. The tutors are not looking to catch you out or trip you up, they want you to succeed too!
Often tutors will present you with new information that may tempt you to change your mind, there’s nothing wrong with changing your original answer when presented with new data. In fact, acknowledging your own flaws and mistakes is an important quality for any doctor. Stay open minded and receptive to change!
Sometimes you may get asked questions where you don't understand what the question is actually asking. In situations like these, repeat back what you think they were asking and if it isn't quite right they will clarify what they meant. It's so important to make sure that yourself and the tutors are on the right page so you answering the question they asked rather than what you think they asked. Asking questions also shows that you are inquisitive which is a desirable trait they are looking for.
Remember that these academics may be giving you tutorials/supervisions and you may be interacting with them throughout your whole university experience. Getting across your enthusiasm for medicine reassures them that you will be a right fit for the course. Understandably interviews can seem stressful; however, don't forget to let your passion for medicine come through.
To guide you in the right direction, you might be questioned on your thought process, or asked to consider something you hadn't considered. This may be to get you to think about any steps which were incorrect so that you can realise it and correct yourself. Linking back to the first point about thinking out loud, that is why it is so important because it allows them to nudge you in the right direction if they see you're not heading there on your own.
A good question to ask yourself if you are being challenged is: 'What assumptions have I made?'. That enables you to evaluate your thought process and get yourself back on track.
It's ok to let them know if you're thinking about something. Even if you need to stop and think for 10 seconds, telling them that you need to pause shortly is a good thing. Don't pause in silence for too long though, at some point it would be more helpful to them to know what you're thinking since that is ultimately what they are looking for. Nevertheless, if you're feeling flustered and just need a moment to gather your thoughts, tell them.