The University Interview: Your Step-By-Step Guide

Manavi Agarwal

Last Updated: October 6, 2023
no preview

You’ve made it to the stage where you’re preparing for university interviews, and you might be wondering, “What’s all the fuss about?” Well, let’s start by saying that these interviews are kind of a big deal. They’re like the final level of college admissions, where you need to show your skills, smarts, and personality to prove that you’re the perfect fit for your dream university. But don’t worry; you’re not alone in this quest. We’re here to help you navigate the interview process, whether it’s for your undergraduate studies, graduate programmes, or even scholarships.  Let’s dive in and get you ready to shine in your university interviews.

Your Guide On How To Prepare


The Prelude To Success – Research

Before you dive into interview preparation, take some time to understand the university and programme you’re applying to. Here’s what you need to do:

  • Know Your University: Research the institution’s history, values, and mission. Understand what sets it apart from others and why it’s the right fit for you.
  • Programme Details: Dig deep into your chosen programme. Be familiar with the curriculum, professors, and any unique opportunities it offers. Highlight how this programme aligns with your academic and career goals.
  • Empathise with Your Interviewers: Understanding the perspective of the interviewers can give you a significant advantage. What are their expectations, fears, and aspirations for the programme? Tailor your responses to align with their vision.

Beyond Appearance – The Art Of Personal Branding

Presenting yourself is crucial, but it’s more than just dressing well:

  • Personal Branding: Instead of just dressing smart, consider developing a personal brand. Choose attire that not only looks good but also reflects your values and the image you want to project.
  • Storytelling through Style: Your clothing choices can tell a story about your personality and interests. Use this to your advantage by incorporating subtle elements that convey your passion

Mindfulness Over Confidence

Feeling jittery before an interview is natural, but you have to conquer those butterflies. Building confidence is essential, but being mindful can be even more impactful:

  • Mindfulness Practice: Incorporate mindfulness exercises into your routine to stay calm and centred during the interview. This can help you respond thoughtfully to questions.
  • Focused Presence: Instead of merely projecting confidence, aim for a genuine and focused presence. This demonstrates that you are fully engaged and interested in the conversation.

Answering Confidently – Common Questions


Now, let’s delve into how to tackle the questions that interviewers frequently ask:

  • Tell Me About Yourself: Craft a brief yet compelling story that highlights your academic journey, passions, and goals. Make it engaging and memorable.
  • Why This Programme/University?: Connect your aspirations with the university’s offerings. Mention specific courses, professors, or research opportunities that excite you.
  • Strengths and Weaknesses: When discussing strengths, provide real examples from your experiences. For weaknesses, focus on areas where you’ve made improvements.
  • Your Academic Journey: Share your academic achievements and relate them to your chosen programme. Discuss how your coursework prepared you for this opportunity.

Beyond The Obvious – Crafting Memorable Responses

If you’re pursuing an unconventional career or programme, here’s how to stand out:

  • Highlight Your Passion: Emphasise your genuine enthusiasm for your chosen path. Explain how your unique interests and experiences have led you to this point. Discuss the impact you hope to make in your unconventional field. Illustrate your long-term goals and how they align with your chosen programme.
  • Use of Metaphors: Craft your answers using metaphors or analogies. This not only makes your responses engaging but also helps interviewers understand complex concepts better.
  • Unexpected Analogies: Compare your academic journey or aspirations to something unexpected and unrelated. It adds an element of surprise and creativity to your responses

The Art Of Storytelling And Humility

Interviewers often appreciate personal anecdotes that reveal your character and experiences:

  • Relatable Stories: Share experiences that shaped your values and decision to pursue higher education. Use these stories to showcase your resilience and adaptability.
  • Learned Lessons: Narrate a challenge you faced and the valuable lessons you gleaned from it. Discuss how this experience will benefit you in your academic journey.
  • Growth through Vulnerability: Share a story of a time when you faced a challenge and openly discuss your initial struggles and how you overcame them. This demonstrates resilience and a growth mindset.
  • The Evolution of Your Dreams: Talk about how your academic and career goals have evolved over time. Show how your adaptability and openness to change have shaped your journey.

Revealing Unique Curiosities

Your interview isn’t just a one-way street. Asking thoughtful questions demonstrates your genuine interest:

  • Programme-Related Queries: Inquire about specific courses, research opportunities, or recent achievements within your programme.
  • Interviewer’s Insights: Seek the interviewer’s perspective on what makes a successful student in the programme.
  • Inquiry About Community: Ask interviewers about the unique student communities or clubs they have been a part of during their academic journey. This personal touch can foster a deeper connection.
  • Exploring Their Passions: Find out what hobbies or interests the interviewers pursue outside of their academic roles. This can provide insights into their personalities and create a more relaxed atmosphere.

Parting With Grace

As the interview winds down, it’s essential to leave a positive lasting impression. Express your gratitude for the opportunity to interview at their esteemed institution.

  • Reiterate Interest: Confirm your enthusiasm for the programme and university. Restate how you believe it’s the perfect place for you to excel.
  • Quirky Farewell: Instead of a standard “thank you,” end the interview with a memorable quote, a well-timed joke, or a surprising piece of wisdom related to your field of interest.
  • Follow-Up: Send a thank-you email within 24 hours to reiterate your appreciation and re-emphasize your eagerness to join the programme.

Embracing Feedback

Embrace the unconventional by actively seeking feedback:

  • Feedback Exchange: Instead of just passively accepting feedback, engage in a conversation with the interviewers about their insights and suggestions. This demonstrates your commitment to growth.
  • Actionable Feedback Implementation: Show your interviewers that their feedback matters by implementing at least one suggestion in your next interview. This shows your dedication to improvement.

Stay Positive And Keep Trying


Remember, interviews are opportunities to learn and grow. If you don’t get accepted into your dream programme on your first attempt, don’t be disheartened. Use the experience to further refine your interview skills.

  • Celebrating Rejections: Embrace rejections as learning experiences. After each interview, take time to analyse what went well and what can be improved.
  • A Unique Thank-You: Send a thank-you note that doesn’t just express gratitude but also reflects on a specific aspect of the interview that you found enlightening or enjoyable.

Interview Mastery With Mentoria

Navigating university interviews can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. Armed with the right preparation and mindset, you can confidently step into these conversations and make a compelling case for your admission. Remember, it’s not just about showcasing your achievements; it’s also about conveying your genuine passion for your chosen field of study.

As you embark on your journey towards university admission, consider seeking guidance from experts like Mentoria. Our experienced mentors and counsellors can provide personalised support to help you excel in your interviews. From crafting compelling narratives to practising mock interviews, Mentoria equips you with the skills and confidence needed to shine during your university admissions process.

So, as you prepare for your upcoming interviews, remember that you’re not alone in this endeavour. With Mentoria’s guidance, you can confidently navigate the interview room and take that crucial step towards your academic aspirations.