The Interview Process
We understand that interviews can seem a stressful part of the selection process. These notes may help to reassure you.
Interviews form just one small part of our overall assessment of you. We understand that you will feel nervous particularly at the start of the interview and that you will feel more comfortable with some topics than others. You will have at least one interview about your chosen subject and also often a general interview. We explain exactly what your interview day will involve when we write to invite you.
All of our interviewers are trained and experienced and will try to put you at your ease. Subject interviewers will share your passion for your subject and be keen to discuss it with you. They will assess your current knowledge and they will also ask questions which take you into more unfamiliar territory to see how you handle new concepts and ideas. They won't expect you to know all the answers but they will expect you to have a go perhaps by telling them how you would approach the problem. General interviewers also help to assess you and will often ask you more widely about your interests and your academic progress.
You shouldn't need to prepare in any particular way but you may find it useful to talk about your subject with an interested teacher or friend beforehand especially if this will help you to feel more confident in approaching an interview discussion. Various publications give information about Cambridge interviews. The most reliable source is the University of Cambridge website which also has some video clips.
Your performance will be reviewed alongside that of others who come for interview and in the light of all the other information we have about your strengths. We look for a strong grasp of relevant current knowledge and the potential to tackle less familar problems and concepts.
We ask you to dress comfortably for interview and we certainly don't expect you to buy a smart new outfit for the occasion! We provide any meals free of charge while you are with us and will also offer you a free overnight stay if you have a long way to come. In addition our current students now run a very popular Help Desk on interview days. They welcome you when you arrive in College, guide you to the interview rooms and chat with you about the College and how your day is going. If you stay overnight they usually invite you to drop in and chat over drinks and biscuits during the evening.
Finally, bear in mind that we only invite for interview those students who have a realistic chance of a place at Cambridge. So if we invite you it means we are seriously considering you for a place.
Checked March 2012 (HB)