Admissions interviews

Undergraduate admissions interviews at Cambridge are not interviews in the conventional sense. Rather, they are interactive aptitude tests, pursued by discussion.

At Churchill, we usually interview between 2/3 and 3/4 of our undergraduate applicants each year. All our interviews are conducted online, using Zoom. Most interviewees have a single interview, typically with two interviewers (occasionally a third person is present as an observer). Our interview slots are normally 45 minutes long, though the actual interview duration tends to be in the range of 30-40 minutes. Some interviews require pre-reading or a preparation exercise, in which case we will assign time for this before the interview proper. To check for any particular details about the interview format in your chosen course, see our Courses webpages.

If you are asked to interview, we’ll advise you to use a computer with a webcam and microphone, though a tablet or phone will work perfectly well. Provided we can see and hear each other clearly, that’s fine. We’ll ask you to have some paper and a pen handy, preferably a thick black “sharpie”-type pen, so you can easily share workings or written ideas. We might ask you to type into a shared document and, if you have a device with a touch screen and stylus that you’re comfortable using then, for some technical subjects (including but not necessarily limited to Computer Science, Economics, Engineering, Mathematics, and Natural Sciences), we may suggest that you write equations or sketch graphs using that device. Again though, always have paper and pen as a backup.

We will ask you find somewhere quiet for your interview where you won’t be disturbed, with the fastest and most stable internet connection available to you. For many interviewees, school or college is the best place, in which case please check with your teachers or relevant staff member in advance to make sure that an appropriate space will be available.

Although the precise format of Cambridge interviews varies a bit from college to college and between subjects, all essentially have the same two functions. For us, they give our subject experts the opportunity to meet you and assess your academic ability. For you, they are a bit like Cambridge supervisions, so they give you a chance to experience the way we teach and decide whether you feel you’re suited to it. To these ends, our interviews are typically based around academic problems to which we will ask you to seek solutions, assisted as appropriate by your interviewers, usually via discussion.

To prepare, the best thing you can do is revise, particularly:

  • Relevant content from school or college;
  • Your UCAS personal statement;
  • Any written work we have asked you to submit.

Additionally, it is good to become familiar with talking about your subject and academic interests with peers and/or teachers. However, extensive practice in interview ‘technique’ is neither expected nor, in our experience, useful.