First year Englisher Charles Pidgeon discusses his interview and gives some top tips…
You don’t come to interviews expecting it to be a social and fun experience, but for me, it was, and I hope it is for most candidates! Of course the interview process is intense, there is simply no denying that. However, I found that I expended the majority of my stress waiting. Sitting and waiting to be called for interview tested my mental endurance and so I found myself in the JCR talking to other candidates, playing board games, watching movies, and generally doing all I could to escape the solitary moments of sitting in my room.
It depends on what works for you. Some people might benefit from peace and quiet, but I found the comradery and the shared experience allowed me to interview with less stress than if I’d been crammed in my room re-reading my personal statement for the 427th time.
One of my interviews at Lady Margaret Hall consisted of a close reading of a contemporary poem. I was given ten minutes alone with the poem to make notes and develop my thoughts before being interviewed by two professors. There’s a fine line between defending what you have said and backing down, but I found the most genuine and revelatory moments occurred when I let the tutors guide, but not steer.
However, take advice with a grain of salt: as an Australian, (who incidentally had never heard of a personal statement until I started my application), I came into the interview week feeling completely out of my depth. But from my frantic reconnaissance, speculation, and debriefs with others, the only thing I ascertained is that there is no ‘typical’ Oxford interview. So, even though it is tempting, try not to compare your experience to everyone else’s – accept that you are an individual, and create, rather than replicate, an experience.