Third Trowel of Christmas

TOP TIPS for Interviews


At the end of this week our Tutors look forward to meeting prospective candidates (BA Archaeology and Anthropology) for their interviews.

There are lots of myths about interviews at Oxford, but really, they’re just conversations about your chosen subject – like a short tutorial – with someone who knows a lot about it. This Third Trowel of Christmas offers guidance and TOP TIPS for interviews at Oxford, all fact checked and sponsored by reputable sources within the University. Scroll down to the end to watch a video prepared by Oxford Pathways and featuring current students and staff discussing their experiences. 






A good deal of the teaching at Oxford takes place in small classes or tutorials, and your interviewers – who may be your future tutors – are assessing your ability to study, think and learn in this way. Tutors will understand that you may be nervous and will try to put you at your ease. They want you to feel able to be yourself in the interview, and to allow you to demonstrate your skills and abilities. They will probably ask you a few simple questions to begin with: perhaps about something in your personal statement or why you have applied for a particular course. They will then move on to questions about your subject. For our interviews for BA Archaeology and Anthropology you may be given a text and/or objects and you will then be asked to answer questions and comment on these. Tutors may also refer to the written work that you were asked to submit as part of your application. Questions may be about the subjects that you are currently studying at school or college. However, you will also be offered opportunities to show whether you have read around the subject and to demonstrate your knowledge and interest beyond your school or college syllabus.

If you think you don’t know the answer to a question, don’t panic, but try and apply your mind to it – you may surprise yourself! You may also wish to explain that you haven’t covered that topic yet, but the key thing is to appear interested. Don’t play it cool because you’re nervous. Tutors love their subject and they want to teach people who feel likewise.


TOP TIPS for Interviews

Have you followed That Oxford Girl (TOG)? Her website gives a student perspective of the application process and life at the University of Oxford. It includes lots of TOP TIPS and advice from current students who update it with their experiences each week.

She offers some very useful advice and tips for everyone attending interviews here as well as a list of fifty real life University interview questions here and ten very sensible suggestions for ways to prepare for an interview here.


The University website also offers a variety of information to help you prepare for your interview. These include guidance for on interview arrangements for international students and interview candidates who are taken ill.