Top login menu

Murray Edwards College
University of Cambridge

Direct Applicant Interview Experience - Alex Veitch

  • Home
  • Main page content

    A bit about me:

    Hey! I’m Alex and I’m a second year English student from Manchester. I discovered Murray Edwards in my first year of sixth form, on a fateful HE+ scheme (an outreach programme working with over 3,000 state educated Year 12 students in different regions) at an overnight stay in March 2014. There was something special which filled the entire place, and I had this funny, fateful feeling during the entire stay. As a student here, I’m hoping I’ll find out exactly how to word it by the time I graduate.

    I had attended my local comprehensive school until Year 11, then gaining a place at a grammar school sixth form to study for my A levels. I never thought in my wildest dreams that I would even apply to Cambridge, mainly because I thought that my GCSE results and background would hold me back from even getting an interview. Murray Edwards has proved my misconceptions wrong in the best way.

    Throughout the following summer and for several weeks in Year 13, I would tell my family, friends and teachers that I was going to apply one day, and then the next, I would tell them the opposite. I am so thankful to myself and those around me who convinced me to be brave enough to apply. If you are reading this as an applicant, you should be proud of giving yourself the chance too!

    The interview letter arrives:

    As the days got even colder and shorter, I hadn’t heard anything and grew increasingly nervous. I was sat in the quiet study room at my sixth form when my phone lit up with an email from Murray Edwards, telling me that an interview letter had been sent. I’ll never forget jumping around with my friends at the news. A couple of hours later, the reality of the interview quickly set in, and I remember the next month of my life being very uncertain and stressful. My advice to any of you feeling the same is to keep perspective about how far you have come already; all of your previous exams, personal statements, as well as the admissions assessments have taken you to this opportunity: the college want to get to know you even more!

    If you have any questions or concerns about the interviews (even travelling to Cambridge), please do not hesitate to contact the college as soon as possible. We are more than happy to help.

    Preparing for your interview:

    Following from my last piece of advice, it’s good to remind yourself that the interview is just one factor out of the entire admissions process. The academic staff at Murray Edwards work really hard to consider everything that they know about you in deciding interviewees, but that doesn’t end after the interview! Prepare for your interview with the purpose of starting an interesting conversation about the subject and topics that you love and care about. This doesn’t mean that you have to read, for example, any set amount of Shakespeare plays or at least fifteen key statistics about the Amazon Rainforest to be successful: don’t be fooled by anyone that tells you differently!

    It might help to print a copy of your personal statement and read it over, highlighting the topics that you mentioned as you do so: you will feel more confident talking about and expanding on what you wrote if you organise and prepare. As a starting point, planning and expanding your preparation to link to what you have already said can be helpful. Of course, preparation is about doing what is right for you, so have faith in your past techniques, as well as listening to subject-specific advice from your school or the many online resources from the University itself (the website, YouTube, #Cambtweet on Twitter, Murray Edwards social media and our College website)

    A Murray Edwards interview:

    Many of us find the interview daunting, largely because of travelling to an unknown (and sometimes far away!) place to meet lots of new people. As soon as you step into the airy and calm corridors of Medwards, you will be greeted with smiley faces who will take care of you (I promise!) and chocolate. I think this nicely sums up who we are as a College. If you made an open application or hadn’t visited us beforehand, you will quickly begin to realise that we are a very caring community and a second home which students are proud to be a part of.  

    You will be guided to where your interview is by a friendly student helper who will be there to reassure you. Try and stay calm, and remember that you are here for a good reason: because you are brilliant. I remember sitting on a chair before my first interview and wanting to run away down the stairs, but as soon as I got into the room, the worries quickly left my mind and I ended up really enjoying the discussion. An admissions interview at Cambridge is more like a conversation about your subject, and not always the series of questions and answers which you might expect!

    Don’t feel like you have to tell the interviewers everything you have ever learnt: try and remember that these people are human beings, and that more often than not, have gone through the same experience that you are going through now!

    Above all, be confident in your thoughts and arguments; the academic staff love your subject and are really excited to hear you talk about your shared passion – they will help you if you are stuck and encourage you throughout the process. If you need some time to think or you need a question repeated, just ask, and they will be more than happy to help.


    Finally, congratulations on getting an interview at Murray Edwards (which I hope you love as much as I do!). I and the rest of the Murray Edwards students wish you the very best of luck.