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 just one interview, typically with two interviewers. Our interviews slots are normally scheduled to last 45 minutes, though the actual duration is often in the region 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 more details about the format of our interviews in your chosen course, see our Courses webpages.
If you are asked to interview, we recommend you 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 request that you have paper and pen handy, preferably a thick black “sharpie”-type” pen, so you can easily share workings or written ideas. For some technical subjects (including but not necessarily restricted to Computer Science, Economics, Engineering, Mathematics, and Natural Sciences), it can be helpful to have a device with a touch screen and stylus, to write equations or sketch graphs. Again though, such devices are not imperative, and paper and pen will be entirely acceptable.
We will ask you find a quiet place for your interview where you won’t be disturbed, with the fastest and most stable internet connection available to you. For many interviewees, the best place may be school or college, in which case please check in advance with your teachers or relevant staff member that an appropriate space can be made 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.