Where did you interview and for which subject?

I was interviewed at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, for English Literature.

What were you feeling before the interview? What tips would you pass on?

I was feeling nervous and kept running over my ‘interview material’ in my head – the things I thought it would be most impressive to talk about. I don’t think this was the best way of thinking about it, as trying to squeeze in impressive-sounding phrases and references would have sounded ridiculous and I actually wasn’t given much opportunity to do this in the interview itself. It would have been better to try to keep calm and think through the range of my knowledge and about the things I genuinely found interesting.

Describe your interview and how it went. What advice would you give here?

When I went in and sat down, I was asked to list everything I’d read in the last six months outside of my schoolwork. My immediate thought was ‘I haven’t read anything in the last six months because I’ve been busy preparing for my Cambridge interview.’ This would have provided valuable advice if I’d been able to go through the process again; it’s easy to let your preparations for the interviews overwhelm any actual affection you had for your subject and to let things like reading for pleasure slide, but it’s as important to maintain this as to stick to your interview prep check list. As it was, after my initial panic, I was able to come up with a few things and ended up having some interesting discussions that I thoroughly enjoyed, probably because they weren’t about things for which I had pre-prepared ‘set-piece’ statements.

One last piece of general advice for the interview…

Try your best to relax and enjoy it. Interviewers want to push you to come up with ideas you’ve never thought of before. The whole point is to move beyond what you’re comfortable with, so don’t worry if you feel like you’re out of your depth; you’re supposed to be!

We hope you find Anna’s tips useful. As you can see from this week and last week, both our interviewers talk about how important it is to relax, and how surprised they were to find they enjoyed it!