Personal statements & applying to uni

Checklist: university and degree subjects you might be interviewed for

By Andy Gardner (Careers Adviser) - 04 November 2013

Students relaxing in a common area, University of Winchester, interviews

Think that most universities don’t interview applicants? Don’t be so sure! They are more likely to crop up with certain courses and places.

No need to panic – our checklist will take away the fright factor. Plus, don't miss our expert tips on how to prepare for a university interview - and current students reveal what to expect in your interview, by subject
 

How universities use interviews

Interviews and auditions can be just one part of the university admissions process along with your:

Without a crystal ball, it’s impossible to say for definite whether you’ll be interviewed or not. But the likelihood of being invited to an interview depends on either the universities or the courses you’re applying for.

Universities that tend to interview

Very few universities tend to interview all or most of their applicants. The exceptions that most people know about are the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge, where the interview forms an important part of the process (if you're applying to Oxbridge, don't miss these video tips!).

But they’re not the only ones. Imperial College London and University College London will also interview most of their applicants.

 Many of our courses require applicants to be interviewed as part of the application process. You can find more information about a department’s interview process, on individual department websites.

Imperial College London

Some departments might ask you to participate in group tasks and selection activities or attend an interview during the open day. For some degrees, such as fine art and architecture, the portfolio of work you are asked to bring is vital to the consideration of your application.

Other departments may ask you to take certain tests and exercises during the day, such as writing a short essay.

University College London

Courses that tend to interview

If you have chosen the course that you want to study, it is useful to know the ‘odds’ on whether to expect that interview invite.

A lot of the time it comes down to an individual course department as to whether you’ll be interviewed or not, but we’ve roughly listed out the likelihood of interview by broad subject areas.

  • Most likely: professional training degrees, such as dentistry, primary education, social work and nursing.
  • Possible: talent-based degrees such as music, acting, art and design.
  • You never know: sciences, engineering, computing.
  • Least likely: humanities and social science degrees such as English, politics, history and geography.

To give you more of a flavour of what you can expect, see what current students from different subjects told us about their interview experiences.

Don’t let the prospect of an interview put you off applying. Prepare for it properly, and in good time, and you’ll breeze it. See our article on how best to prepare for interviews for some useful tips.

If in doubt, read the small print

As always, there are exceptions to the trend. Let’s take a few examples.

Computing: less likely to be interviewed?

  • No interview: University of Nottingham
  • Occasional interview: University of East Anglia
  • Yes, interview: University of Birmingham, Imperial College London, University of York

English literature: unlikely to be interviewed, right?

  • No interview: University of Bristol, Cardiff University, Durham University, University of Nottingham, University of Sheffield
  • Possible interview: Kings College London
  • Yes, interview: University of Cambridge, Queen Mary University of London, University College London, University of Warwick

Architecture: portfolio or interview?

  • Interview and portfolio: University College London
  • Portfolio, not interview: Kingston University London, Cardiff University (four sheets of A4), University of Sheffield (10 sheets of A4), University of Manchester (digital portfolio via blog)

Whatever you’re applying for, you need to get into the guts of the departmental website of the course you are considering to find out about interviews - or note it down as one of your questions to ask at an open day.

 

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