To open our new blog series on ‘The Interview’, third year student Leif Bersweden speaks about his experience interviewing for Biological Sciences. Enjoy!
The prospect of arriving in Oxford for my interview, not knowing anyone and not really knowing what to expect, was a scary one. I was met by a very friendly team of student helpers, called ‘runners’, who were more than happy to answer my nervous reel of questions: where is my interview? Where do I eat? What do I wear? The students run various activities in college (such as pub quizzes and board game nights), but these events are by no means compulsory and if you just want to stay in your room, read a book and avoid all other people that is absolutely fine; do whatever makes you feel most comfortable.
For Biology, as well as your interview at LMH, you will get another one at a randomly assigned college. Both interviews take roughly the same format and last for the same period of time. The tutors usually begin by asking about something in your personal statement; this is to allow you to show them how much you love your subject and to ease you into the interview by giving you something you know you can talk about. This is a good time to show that you have explored the subject beyond your A level syllabus; alternatively you may just prefer, as I did, to let them know how cool Venus Flytraps are.
After this the tutor will usually ask you a set of questions based around an object or a few graphs. The key here is not to panic (it is okay to pause or to ask them to repeat the question) but to ensure that you talk them through what you think the answers might be in response to the questions/evidence presented. Think out loud: they want to know how you think and approach problems. Most of what they ask you is meant to be beyond what you know, so don’t worry and don’t be discouraged if they start leading you towards a different answer either – they are looking for flexibility.
Interviews aside, LMH is a really nice place to be in the middle of December. The quad will invariably be lit up by an enormous Christmas tree, the Dining Hall will be adorned with decorations and if you’re lucky you may even see the gardens in the snow.
Be enthusiastic, think out loud and don’t worry about getting the answers wrong!