You’ve probably spent some time imagining what an interview at Oxford or Cambridge will be like, and whilst everyone’s experience is different, this guide will give you more of an idea of what to expect from your visit. It’s up to you what you do with your time when you’re there, but hopefully this will make the whole thing less daunting!

When you arrive:

Your first point of contact will be the Porters’ Lodge, where you’ll be given your keys and a schedule for the next few days.

  • Feel free to have a look around your college – take it as a chance to see what your future home could be like! Most rooms will be pretty minimalist in design, containing a single bed, desk, wardrobe, etc., though the luckier amongst you may get a sink/en-suite! Unpack your stuff, and bask in the glory of having your own, private space away from home.
  • See what food is on offer! One of the best things about your stay in college as an interviewee is the free food provided at hall. Each college has its own hall, which is basically code for ‘a canteen with portraits’. Although the exact format may vary between colleges, hall will generally provide breakfast, lunch, and dinner to interviewees. Take this opportunity to relax, and get a feel for the college lifestyle.


  • Double check your interview time and location – these might be subject to change and you wouldn’t want to be late or even miss it.
  • Keep an eye out for any student ambassadors who might be wandering around. They are there to help you if you’re lost, but are also the ideal people to ask if you want to know a bit more about any aspect of university life, from the admissions process, to where to buy shampoo!


  • Look out for any events that your college may have put on for interviewees. The JCR (Junior Common Room) is a good place to meet current students, and maybe even your future coursemates! Don’t be put off by the competition – see it as a chance to chat to like-minded people who are in the same boat as you.
  • Whilst it’s a good idea to brush up on any reading or submitted work in advance of your interview, don’t feel you need to cram lots of new information the night before. Instead, take them time to explore some new places around town. You’re likely to be there for a few days, especially if you’re in Oxford, so make the most of your trip! Why not take a trip punting, or visit some of the fancier colleges?

Ultimately, remember that you’re there to perform your very best at interview. A mad night out won’t do you any favours, but neither will barricading yourself in your room reading – the key to success lies in finding the right balance!