Shortlisted candidates will be interviewed by at least two English tutors, and will usually have two interviews. In order to make sure that candidates' chances of gaining a place are not affected by their college preference on their UCAS form, many candidates will be interviewed at more than one college. Some candidates will also be reallocated before interview from colleges that have a very high ratio of applicants to places, in order to ensure fairness across the University. Interviews are tailored to individual candidates, and may engage with submitted written work and with wider reading interests mentioned in the personal statement. They are likely to include an exercise in which candidates are invited to discuss a short piece of previously unseen literature.
Assessment of performance at interview will be made according to the following criteria:
Evidence of independent reading
Capacity to exchange and build on ideas
Clarity of thought and expression
Flexibility of thought
Evidence of independent thinking about literature
Readiness and commitment to read widely with discrimination
Being invited to interview at Oxford is, in and of itself, a fantastic achievement of which candidates should be proud. You will sit down to discuss literature with academics whose passion for the subject matches yours. Such an opportunity is likely a first for many candidates – the most common piece of advice from undergraduates recalling their own interview experience is to go in without any preconceptions, relax, and enjoy a stimulating and unique discussion.
Remember, interviewing tutors are hoping to hear how you think: you may be the type of person who thinks aloud on the way to an answer, or who pauses to consider before giving a deliberate answer. However you present your thoughts, communication is vital. It is perfectly acceptable to change your mind mid-argument, retract earlier points, and ask questions of the tutors yourself!