History @ Hertford, Oxford in 2018

Interview format

2x interviews (15 mins + 30 mins), 2 days apart

Interview content

First interview - submitted essay; second interview - personal statement, Extended Project.

Best preparation

Reviewed personal statement and Extended Project; had practice interviews

Advice in hindsight


Final thoughts

In hindsight, I would also have annotated my essay.

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 HAT

Number of interviews: 2

Skype interview: No

2 days1 x 15 minute interview; 1x 30 minute interview
What happened in your interview? How did you feel?

The first interview was 30 minutes although it felt shorter! It was very intense but I really enjoyed it. It was all about my essay I’d sent in - which I hadn’t really prepared for because I hadn't realised that might be part of it! It was in an office at a table with two interviewers. It was a very cosy room with lots of papers and books all around so that made me feel at ease! They kept to the topic of the essay and never asked any weird ‘Oxbridge questions’ that you hear about.

The second interview was about my personal statement and again it was with two people but this time we sat in arm chairs in an extremely cosy and extremely messy office! We talked about my EPQ for the entire interview and I actually had so much fun. He was so nice and the conversation seemed to flow. I came out buzzing!

How did you prepare?

For the HAT I did all the practice papers I could find online. As it’s not knowledge based it's hard to ‘revise’ for, but just carrying on with your A-level studies (or equivalent) and doing source questions within that really helps. That sounds cliche but that’s really all I did!

For my interview prep I just annotated and annotated my personal statement - picking out anything they could seek out and make me expand on. This really helped because lots of my second interview questions followed similar themes to what I thought they might choose. I’d also read my EPQ front to back countless times and knew it really well, which came in handy! I also had apractice interview with my head of sixth, which was not very helpful as they didn’t really have any experience, and another given by a local private school that was really useful and fairly realistic. I would say practice interviews are good, no matter how true to life they are, because they give you confidence and helps you learn how to handle yourself in such an alien environment. I definitely needed a practice run through of them because I’m normally quite shy!

What advice do you have for future applicants?

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

Looking back on it now I wish I had planned and annotated my essay as well as my personal statement, because this would have made me calmer once I found out there was an essay interview. It probably wouldn’t have been necessary because it would have been impossible to predict what they asked me about, but it would have calmed some nerves. That’s my only regret I think.