Oxford publishes sample interview materials

University seeks to demystify admissions process

Source: Wikimedia Commons

A collection of sample interview questions has been released by Oxford University in advance of this year’s application deadline.

Candidates applying for Law could be asked to consider the legality of running a red light in the middle of the night, whilst budding linguists might debate the effects of reading a literary work in translation.

Alongside the sample interview questions, applicants can view responses fielded by current Oxford tutors. Cecile Fabre, Senior Research Fellow at All Souls College, offered her expectations for candidates discussing the philosophy of air travel: “We are not trying to get them to guess or arrive at the ‘right’ answer.

“Rather, the interview is about the candidate’s ability to think critically, to deal with counter-examples to the views they put forward, and to draw distinctions between important concepts.”

Students who are invited to interview for Medicine could find themselves being asked to rank these countries – Bangladesh, Japan, South Africa and the UK – by their crude mortality. Tara Madsen, a first year medical student, told Cherwell: “It would be unfair if they only gave a place to people who got it right – but they don’t do that.

“They give a place to people who give a sensible suggestion, and can explain their reasoning and think on their feet.”

The Oxford interview, a major part of the admissions process, has long been a source of nerves for prospective students. Dr Samina Khan, Director of Admissions and Outreach, explains that: “We know there are still misunderstandings about the Oxford interview, so we put as much information out there as possible to allow students to see the reality of the process.”

Emily Wilder, a first year Modern Languages student told Cherwell: “The notion of interviews is scary, but the people are not.

“The tutors I know did and do seem more interested in your engagement with the subject than with which school you went to.”