How to ace online university interviews
Like an in-person interview, you’ll need to prepare.
This guide is taken from the Know How Library, a tool on the Unifrog platform. Not sure whether to take the ACT or the SAT? Or how to give the perfect Oxbridge practice interview? The Know How Library is an easily searchable library of 100s of expert guides for both students and teachers, covering every aspect of the progression process. It is included as standard for Unifrog partner schools.
Many universities use online interviews as part of their admissions process, especially for international students. As with in-person interviews, it’s important to prepare to make sure they go smoothly. We’ve written this guide to help you achieve just that.
Before your online interview
Like an in-person interview, you’ll need to prepare. Here are some pointers to get you on your way:
- Review your application: Think about why you chose this particular programme and university. What do you hope to achieve whilst you’re there, and what experience and skills can you bring to the programme that will set you apart from other candidates?
- Do your research: Find out exactly what modules are on offer and what research the department has published recently. Do their interests and specialisms align with your own? Don’t forget to consider interests outside of academia too. Interviewers could potentially ask you what you’re reading, or your opinion on a current affairs issue.
- Practise: Some people find talking with a webcam a little strange at first. Set up some practice calls with friends or family and get a feel for how it works. You also want as few distractions as possible when you’re carrying out your interview.
- Get your setup right: Avoid a busy Starbucks or the family kitchen (as much as your mum might want to say hi) and find a place where you won’t be interrupted. You can even record yourself and watch it back to see how you come across. Make sure your laptop is charged, your webcam works, and you have a stable internet connection.
- Consider your future plans: Some universities may want to know what your intentions after university and how this programme will help you to prepare. If you have a specific career path in mind, this bit should be fairly straight-forward, but it’s possible that you don’t. If that’s the case, it’s ok to outline two or three options, as long as you’re clear on the skills and attributes you’ll need to go for those options, and how this programme will help you to achieve those.
During your online interview
When the day of the interview comes round, you want to make sure you’re well-rested and fully prepared. You can impress in the interview with a few useful techniques:
- Dress to impress. As comfortable as they are, your pyjamas aren’t likely to make a strong impression on the interviewer. Keep it simple, and go for smart casual if in doubt (at least on your top half!).
- Connect early. Don’t leave logging on until the last minute. Give yourself plenty of time to get settled, test your connection, and make sure everything is working well. Try to be online at least 10-5 minutes before the start of the interview. If you’re having any trouble with your technology, get in touch with the university to let them know as soon as possible.
- Don’t panic. The interviewer might ask questions you don’t understand or hear correctly. Take your time, and don’t be afraid to ask them to repeat themselves. Equally, ask questions about the things they talk about.
- Be enthusiastic. Remember, they want to see what you’re like as a person, and whether you’d be suitable for the culture and course. Show enthusiasm for your chosen programme and unleash some of your killer knowledge.
After your online interview
Whatever the outcome of the interview, take it as a learning experience. There are a few things you can do after you’ve finished to solidify what you’ve learned:
- Breathe. Once the call ends (and you’re sure the camera is off), let out a deep breath and take a moment to reflect on how it went. Which answers went well? Did you struggle on any topics? These are important areas to assess, particularly if you have more interviews coming up.
- Make notes. If you do have more interviews, write down your reflections and think about how you can change your answers and prepare for the next one.
- Wait patiently. After you’re done with your interview, it can be a difficult time if you have to wait a few days or weeks to hear back from the university. Get stuck back into school work, or move onto preparing for any other interviews you might have.
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