Department of Engineering / News / Students submit tips on preparing for University interviews

Department of Engineering

Students submit tips on preparing for University interviews

Students submit tips on preparing for University interviews

With the Cambridge and Oxford interview season around the corner, a website offering insider tips from well over a thousand Oxbridge students aims to support applicants who may have less understanding of the interview process.

Some students get a lot of support applying to University, others less so

Tommy Gale

Current and former students offer tips on how to prepare for interviews and what to expect. Helpful hints range from chewing gum in the waiting room to relax, to wearing comfortable clothes and the advice covers the full range of Cambridge courses and Colleges.

The website has been used more than 20,000 times across 111 countries.

InsideUni ( is the brainchild of Cambridge students Akil Hashmi and Tommy Gale. They set it up whilst Akil was in his second year of an engineering degree and Tommy was in his third year studying politics, after they were reminiscing about the “daunting” process of applying to the University. Both went to the same grammar school.

Tommy, who graduated last year and is now a social worker in London, was motivated by the challenges faced by students trying to apply without help from friends, family or their school.

“InsideUni was started to close the information gap between university applicants from different backgrounds. Some students get a lot of support when applying to university, others less so.

“The thing is, there's lots of great free support and advice out there. InsideUni hopes to crowdsource this knowledge and promote it in one place. That way everyone can get help.”

Interviews take place at any one of the 29 Colleges that admit undergraduates; applicants can apply to a particular College or be asked to be assigned to one randomly. Once there they’ll normally be given two interviews during the course of the day. Interviews are discussion based and are designed to be more of a conversation than an interrogation. What is being looked for is enthusiasm, and an ability to think independently about the chosen subject. The (normally two) interviewers might start with familiar material, but will then be interested in how candidates deal with increasingly unfamiliar ideas and problems.

But it can be hard to know how to prepare for the interview, especially if you haven’t had access to people who can give advice, and this can be nerve wracking. Akil and Tommy’s website is designed to give applicants reliable tips as well as insights into the experiences of others to help give everyone a good chance of doing themselves justice. What makes it special is that the advice provided comes directly from current students who have insights into the interview process.

Hundreds of students have volunteered to give help to those applying from state schools who may not have had much support in preparing for the interview. And the website has now expanded to incorporate advice to Oxford applicants too.

Akil says the not-for-profit enterprise would be nothing without the volunteers:

“The success of this project is really down to all the students who have shared their advice for no fee and shown they’re motivated more by mission than money. Applicants shouldn't have to pay for this information so it's brilliant to see how many young people our free website is now helping, particularly those who otherwise may have lacked free application support resources."

The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. If you use this content on your site please link back to this page. For image use please see separate credits above.