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What to expect from your UK university admission interview?

Learn tips, common questions, and get expert advice

The UK’s higher education is one of the best in the world, which makes their admissions processes fairly holistic as well. The admissions criteria considers your academic transcripts, statement of purpose, letters of recommendation and extra-curricular activities on your CV to gauge your interests and capabilities as a student and professional. And, one of the key tools they use to get to know you, your motivations and goals better, is the interview. 

Yes, that’s right! Upon getting your application selected, the university officials will send you a conditional offer letter. However, your complete acceptance into a UK university will be dependent on a mandatory admission interview that will be conducted over Skype. If you clear the interview, your acceptance into the university will be confirmed through a CAS (Confirmation of Acceptance for Studies) letter. This is required to apply for your UK study visa.

In this article, you will learn everything about what you should expect from your UK university admission interview as well as some of the most common questions you can expect in the interview. This applies to admission interviews conducted by few other universities around the world as well. 

What to expect?

As a student applying for a Masters in the UK, you will face a rigorous admissions process of which interviews form a critical part. University admission interviews are conducted to test and verify the credentials of candidates who appear qualified on paper. While the duration and form of the interview differ from university to university, we’ve covered a general format you can expect. The interview is generally taken by the course tutor of your selected subject.

To begin with, the interviewers will ask biographical questions to get to know you better. After this, you can expect questions related to your chosen field as a test of your knowledge in it and how you may contribute to the university.

At the end of the interview, you will be given a chance to ask questions too. This  provides you an opportunity to know more about the university and clarify any doubts you have about the university or the course you want to pursue.

Tips and Sample Questions

  • Practice Practice Practice: Practice for the interview by taking part in as many mock interviews as possible. 
  • Research and Learn: You can never know too much about your university: Research about the university and know your course details thoroughly. Stay up to date on the latest in your field. Go through your Statement of Purpose (SoP) and think about why you have chosen that particular course and that university. You will also be given a chance to ask questions. Remember to ask inquisitive questions about the university to your interviewer as this will show that you are interested in their university.
  • Write Write Write: Write the important points down and practice what you want to say in a short duration of time. This ensures that when you are asked, you communicate properly and efficiently and avoid vague answers. 
  • Dress the Part: Make sure you are dressed decently in formal clothing (even if it is a video interview). 
  • Give Yourself an Early Start: Double-check your details and documents and arrive at the venue early. 
  • Confident Body Language: Do not be nervous. Be confident, and this will be communicated in a positive body language.

Here are some of the common questions that are asked in a university admission interview and how you can answer them. Do remember that these questions are only indicative and the final interview process may vary. Also, remember that there are no right or wrong answers (at least most of the questions) to questions like this. 

Q1) Tell me about yourself.

This is your chance to introduce yourself in a way that you stand out from the remaining applicants. This question is open-ended and can also be asked in a tricky way at times. Some interviewers may ask you to describe  ‘how your friends describe you’

Try to avoid cliches like how hardworking you are or other common sentences. Instead, talk about how passionate you are about the chosen field and talk about the projects (if any) you have done that relate to it. You can also talk about your general hobbies, interests, or your personality traits, however, brevity is key. 

Q2) What are your achievements or tell us about an achievement you are most proud of?

Talk about your most recent achievements like the ones you accomplished during your undergraduate college days. Your achievement can be both academic or non-academic, however, make sure that you connect your answer to your academic goals by talking about how these experiences and achievements have challenged and prepared you for the next step. 

Don’t worry if you do not have big achievements. Big or small, what matters to the interviewers is how these experiences have shaped your thinking, abilities, and approaches to study in your field. 

Q3) Why did you choose this course/program?

Clearly, you would want to answer this question by talking about how much you enjoy that particular subject or how passionate you are about it. But, it is important to back your statements as well. You can say how choosing this particular course will open paths to your dream career. Let the interviewer understand your inclination towards the field is backed by grounded evidence through your past projects and future goals. 

Do not provide shallow answers like talking about how much money you can make by studying that particular subject or how many job opportunities you might find in this field. This will make the interviewer doubt your academic goals as it shows that you are not academically inclined.

This question might also have a follow-up question to understand how much you know about the course you have opted for. You can go through the university website to know more about the course. Potential follow-up questions can be:

  • What are the modules in this course?
  • How many semesters are there for this course?
  • How many credits do you require to pass this course?
  • What is the tuition fee for your course and if you have made any payment or deposit?
  • What are the entry requirements of the course?
  • How will your performance be assessed throughout your course?
Q4) Is this course available in India?

This can also be a follow-up question to the above question. You can answer this by saying either yes or no, depending on its availability in India. If your answer is yes, you need to back it up by explaining why you have chosen to study the course in the UK, instead. You can talk about how generalized the courses are in India and that you are also looking for more practical knowledge in this field as opposed to just theory.

Q5) Why this university?

The interviewer not only assesses your passion for the chosen subject but also how committed you will be to their university. This question also provides you an opportunity to showcase your knowledge about their university.

In order to be able to answer this question, you need to know about the university and what it is popular for or if it is renowned for your chosen field of study. You can also talk about how the university has the best facilities for your chosen subject. Whatever you answer, it should project your interest in choosing that university. To know all this information, you need to do a lot of research about the university and must go through the university website.

Like I said above, the interviewer asks this question to understand how committed you are to their university and to decipher your intentions of joining them if given a chance.

Q6) What can you contribute to our university?

One of the key factors for a university to choose a particular student is to know what that student can offer positively to the university. This is the time for you to sell yourself by talking about your personality traits, strengths, and how the university will benefit from it. That does not mean, you should exaggerate as this will only backfire. Focus on key skills, achievements and other factual data that acts as evidence of your potential to contribute to the university. 

Some of the things you can mention are your skills like being a good leader, organizing events, presentation skills, creativity, or even competitiveness.

Q7) What are your weaknesses?

While you need to answer this question as honestly as you can, you need to make sure that you project your negatives in a positive way. For example, you can say ‘I am a perfectionist, which means I sometimes spend agonizing hours to get things right’ or ‘I spend so much time studying that I hardly find time for other extra-curricular activities.’

The whole point of this question is for the university to know if you have the zeal to succeed despite your shortcomings. Also, do not try to sound arrogant by saying that you do not have any weaknesses as it is not believable.

Q8) Why should we choose you or offer you admission?

When the interviewer asks this question, it most likely means that the interview is being wrapped up. So, now would be the time to recap all that you have already mentioned briefly. You can start with your strengths, move on to your professional goals, and end with how you can contribute to the university. However, refrain from trash talking or putting other applicants down by saying that you are better than them as it would make you come across as arrogant and is unlikely to convince your interviewer.

While the above are the most commonly asked questions during a university admission interview, the interviewer might at times throw you a curveball to catch you off guard by asking a question you might not have prepared for. At times like that, all you can do is to answer the question honestly and professionally.

In addition to the above questions, you may also be asked some general questions related to :

  • UK’s geography and other generic questions: You need to know the basic geography of the UK like its popular cities and its capital, currency, and other information.
  • Reason to choose the UK over your home country or other study abroad destinations: You can answer this by talking about the educational standard differences between India and the UK or the unavailability of course options. You also talk about the advantages of studying in the UK like its shorter course duration and world-renowned education system.
  • If you know anybody in the UK: You can answer the question frankly by saying yes or no. If it is yes, you need to be aware of all the details of that person and their whereabouts (address).
  • If you have applied to any other universities in the UK for the same program: The university officials expect any good student to be aware of other universities that provide the same program before finalizing one university. They need to understand that you have done your part of the research. In this case, you should also give reasons as to why you found this university better, like its facilities or tuition fees, etc.
  • Your funding options: The university will want to know how you will be making the payment. You can mention your sources like if your parents are sponsoring you or if you have applied for a loan or other valid sources with evidence. The financial standing should cover both your tuition fees and living expenses for your survival in the UK during your study time. Refrain from talking about your intentions of working part-time during study to cover your living costs as this would give the interviewer a wrong picture and might lead to your rejection.
  • Your plans to stay back in the UK after graduating:  You can say that you would stay back if you find a relevant job wherein you can acquire quality work experience in the field of your study, within the UK’s 2-year Post Study Work Right duration. Refrain from talking about Permanent Residency (PR) or settling down in the UK for good.

You’re also likely to face similar questions at the time of applying for your UK Student visa. The visa interview, also known as the “credibility interview” follows a similar format that you can read more about here.

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