Interviews are not intended to be confrontational although they will undoubtedly be intellectually challenging. The tutors are interested in finding out what your intellectual potential is; they do not wish to catch you out. But remember to think carefully about the questions you have been asked; your interviewers will not mind if you pause to think. Try not to go in with some prepared speech you are determined to deliver at all costs.
Your submitted essay is likely to form a starting point for discussion in at least one of your interviews. The tutors are not so much interested in the level of your knowledge as in your ability to think historically. They wish to test your flexibility, your conceptual skills, and the precision of your thinking. They will use a variety of methods to assess these skills. You are likely to be asked
- about the definition of terms you have used.
- to compare the material you have submitted with some other historical example you have studied.
- how new pieces of information presented to you affect the arguments you have made.
Some colleges may require you to read a short passage of historical writing just before your interview, which they will ask you to discuss as part of the interview process.
You may be asked questions about statements on your UCAS form. Tutors will be particularly interested in evidence of a historical sensitivity. They might ask you about how thinking about the past shapes your interpretation of your local area, places you have visited or books you have read. If you are planning a gap-year you should be prepared to discuss your plans.
We encourage you to explore history broadly. If you study political history mostly at school, you might find that you understand these decades differently if you also find out more about the social history, economic context, or political ideas that influenced these events. Your historical interests might be enriched further by connecting your understanding of the past to other disciplines. These might be subjects that you study at school or ideas that you have encountered through independent study. You can look at ways to develop your historical interests and skills here.
Please note that you will probably be interviewed at the college to which you apply, or the college to which you are allocated, if you made an open application. However, in some cases your application may be referred to another college. This can happen if a college is significantly oversubscribed for your subject that year, and the faculty will re-distribute candidates with the aim of ensuring greater parity in the number of applicants interviewed in each college. During the interview week itself, you may be offered further opportunities to have an interview at other colleges.