Human, Social And Political Science @ Robinson, Cambridge in 2017

Interview format

2x interviews (15-20 mins)

Interview content

1st interview: based on pre-interview text; 2nd interview: personal statement, reading & submitted essays

Best preparation

Books & reading; making Cambridge more familiar

Final thoughts

Don't overthink afterwards

Remember this advice isn't official. There is no guarantee it will reflect your experience because university applications can change between years. Check the official Cambridge and Oxford websites for more accurate information on this year's application format and the required tests.

Also, someone else's experience may not reflect your own. Most interviews are more like conversations than tests and like, any conversation, they are quite interactive.

Interview Format

Coming over from France, I had arrived at the college the night before. After a short night and early breakfast, I was directed towards the JCR where I would wait for quite some time since my interviews (two) were in the afternoon. There I met other interviewees but also really supportive students. My first interview was text based. I skimmed, read, highlighted then annotated the text in the 15 minutes provided before the first interview, time after which I met the two fellows that were to interview me. The interview mainly revolved around the text but by the end of it we had detached ourselves from it. The first interview was very clearly subject based, despite the letter I had received indicating me it would be both subject and general.

Both interview were back to back, so after the first one I jumped straight into the other one. Once again two fellows interviewed me for about 15-20 minutes.

What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

The text based interview was subject focused, led by two sociology professors. The passage I had been given centred on the nature of states. I was lucky enough to have read a bit about the State, including Weber. This of courses boosted my confidence. In the interview itself, we talked about the State, its different modes of action but also how elusive it could sometime be. Each time, both fellows tried to push my analysis further.

The second interview was more broad since the professors were from different subjects (Anthropology and Politics/IR). They touched upon a breadth of different topics from the anthropology of discipline to democracy which I had mentioned or analysed either in my Personal Statement or my submitted work. This interview felt a bit easier in comparison to the first one because they didn't challenge me and push me intellectually as much. They seemed curious about what I read, what I could say about my reading and what I was interested in.

How did you prepare?

Books and reading constantly was fundamental for my preparation. However, especially for foreign students, contacting a current student was really helpful. They really helped me get an idea of the mentality, the objectives and the expectations of an interview. I also found it very helpful to walk around the college gardens and building when I was waiting. It help me calm me before the interviews as well as actually getting to know the college and not feeling like you're in hostile territory, facing the unknown.

Looking back, what advice would you give to your past self?

You'll never feel like you've had enough preparations so don't go on trawling for tiniest detail or tip on the most obscure forum. Finally, a lot of people say that they come out of their interviews thinking that they have completely messed it up but end up getting in. Don't feel bad or overthink it if you think it went alright coming out of it.