How to Prepare for an Online Interview for University

University applications can be both an exciting and intimidating process. One of the most significant hurdles is the admission interview. In recent years, many universities have made the transition from in-person interviews to online interviews. 

This article provides a comprehensive guide on how to prepare for an online university interview, ensuring you make a positive and lasting impression.

If you’re just curious about how to perform well in a university interview in general, don’t forget to check out our previous video for more tips and advice. If you’re a postgraduate applicant, be sure to check out our previous article on how to prepare for a postgraduate interview! 

Nervous about your online interview? We have expert interview coaches with plenty of experience in university admissions and online interviews. Just reach out for a friendly, helping hand.

Content

  1. Understanding the importance of an online interview
  2. What to expect from an online interview
  3. Differences between online interviews and in-person interviews
  4. What universities offer online interviews?
  5. 8 tips on how to prepare for an online interview
  6. How we can help
  7. FAQ

Understanding the importance of an online interview

Online video interviews are just as crucial as face-to-face interviews! They’re used for the same purpose; this is an opportunity for universities to assess your suitability for their courses and get a glimpse of your personality beyond the academic transcripts. 

Your performance in an interview is part of your application process and sheds light on you as an applicant. It can make or break whether you receive an offer. Therefore, performing well is key! 

Here at The Profs, we have a talented and experienced team of tutors who know exactly how to smash the interviewing and admissions process. Reach out for expert guidance.

What to expect from an online interview

An online interview is usually facilitated over the internet on your computer at home or on a computer in a test centre. There are a few popular methods of online interviews:

  • Zoom.
  • Microsoft Teams.
  • Google Meet.
  • Skype.
  • Kira Talent Prep.
  • Independent university platform.

Online interviews can be a live video call with an interviewer/s (synchronous), or you might have to complete one in your own time by a certain deadline (asynchronous). In an asynchronous interview, you will most likely be unable to see questions until the interview has commenced and your answers are likely to be timed. 

Oftentimes, your university will send you a link to the interview in advance or on the day of. If it is held on an interviewing platform, you might be sent a link to set up an account and you could be expected to log in and set up the interview independently.

So, it’s really important that you check what the online interview guidelines are for your chosen university. 

Make sure you check: Where do they want you to take the interview? Through what medium do they intend to host the interview? Will the interview be live or prerecorded? What is the interview date or deadline? Are you expected to create an account or a login beforehand? Don’t be caught off guard by anything!

Check out our previous article on how to prepare for a university Kira Talent Prep interview. This is a goldmine of tips from our founder himself – super helpful for any university interview, but especially if you’ll be using Kira Talent!

Differences between online interviews and in-person interviews

Online interviews can seem a little less intimidating than in-person interviews because you don’t necessarily have to leave the comfort of your own home. Let’s talk pros:

  • An obvious pro of an online interview is that it’s easier to tackle your nerves. You’re in your own familiar, safe space and you’re separated from the interviewer by a screen or you might not even have a live interviewer present. 
  • You can also control your environment and limit distractions, which is helpful when it comes to focus and thus performance.
  • There’s no travel! You can focus on interview preparation rather than transport, as well as save money. If you’re an international student, then an online interview offers the immense opportunity to access the university full stop! 

However, it would be a mistake to become too relaxed! An online interview also lacks some of the benefits that an in-person interview offers. Let’s talk cons:

  • It is harder to showcase your personality and build rapport with the interviewer. You might not be able to bounce off of each other as you would in person, create a strong presence or utilise nonverbal communication. 
  • Universities might choose to rewatch your interview and look things over multiple times. This is a great perk for them but it could be a con for you if you had some weak moments throughout your interview.
  • Technical errors, bad internet connection, or poor logistical preparation can be a real spanner in the works.

So, be aware of the differences between an online interview and an in-person interview, as well as their contrasting pros and cons so that you can prepare as best as you can!

What universities offer online interviews?

Not all universities include interviewing as part of their admissions process. For the ones that do, not all of them conduct online interviews. However, since COVID-19, the number of universities hosting online interviews has increased. 

Below is a list of some top universities that offer online interviews for all or some of their courses:

  • The University of Cambridge
  • The University of Oxford
  • Imperial College London
  • London Business School (LBS)
  • University College London (UCL)
  • King’s College London
  • University of Manchester
  • University of Bristol
  • University of Warwick

We have previous articles on how to prepare for interviews for Cambridge, Oxbridge in general, and Imperial College London for more specific advice. Be sure to give them a read!

8 tips on how to prepare for an online interview

1. Research the university and course

Before your interview, ensure you have a deep understanding of the university and the course you have applied for. This is so that you can be prepared for any question they might ask. Research is also important so that you can hit the ground running: impress your interviewer by mentioning very specific details about their institution or the modules that you like.

Know the University:

Familiarise yourself with the university’s values, mission, culture, and recent news. Understanding the university’s ethos can help you align your responses with what they’re looking for in a student.

Understand the Course:

Delve into the details of the course structure, content, and objectives. Know why you’d enjoy this course, excel at it, and why it’s the perfect fit for your career aspirations.

2. Technical set-up and test run

Technical glitches during your interview can disrupt the flow and make a poor impression. Here’s how to avoid them:

Check Your Equipment:

Ensure your computer, webcam, microphone, and internet connection are working properly. Use the video conferencing platform that the university prefers: set it up, make your account (if applicable) and get to grips with how it all works. For the interview day itself, ensure that your laptop and equipment are fully charged or plugged in.

Do a Test Run:

Arrange a mock interview with a friend to test your set-up. This trial run can help identify potential technical issues that need fixing. 

3. Prepare your interview environment

Your interview environment can significantly impact your performance so don’t neglect this part.

Choose a Quiet Location:

A quiet, well-lit room where you won’t be disturbed is ideal. 

Choose a space that is quiet where you won’t have background noise. You also want it to feel private. If you feel that you will be overheard you might be self-conscious.

Think about your background. Is it clean and uncluttered? What will the interviewer see? You probably want to avoid having the camera facing your underpants on the laundry rack or ginormous posters of your favourite band. Try to create a professional and plain background.

Control Lighting:

Good lighting is crucial. Position yourself so the light source is in front of you, making your face clearly visible.

4. Practise common interview questions

Prepare in advance for possible answers like you would for an in-person interview! You don’t want to be trying to read notes or search things on Google as it will be obvious and unnatural. 

Also, make sure that you re-read your personal statement in advance as you will probably be asked questions about it. And have academic discussions with people around you to prepare yourself!

Other preparation:

Have a pen and paper in case you need to make notes or show how you’ve worked out a problem to the interviewers. Another good idea is to have the university’s phone number and email details in case you need to contact them due to technical issues.

Practice questions:

While every interview is unique, some questions are commonly asked. Practice answers to questions like:

  • Why did you choose this university?
  • Why are you interested in this course?
  • What are your career goals?
  • Where do you see yourself after graduation?
  • What are your strengths/weaknesses?

Jot down any achievements, work experience, extracurriculars, skills and experience you want to showcase and think about how you can weave them into your answers.

5. Be professional

Approach your university interview as you would a job interview.

A common mistake that students make is turning up late! Online interviews are just as important to be on time for as in-person interviews. So, show up on time!

Dress for success! Even though the interview is online, your presentation is important. You want to seem professional and organised. Even if you’re dressed casually, dress in clean and neat clothes. 

6. Mind your body language

Good body language can convey confidence and engagement. Stay focused and visibly present. Maintain eye contact by looking at the webcam and not the screen. Sitting up straight and leaning in slightly will show interest. It might be easier to zone out online than in-person so ensure that you remain responsive. 

Your facial expressions will be more noticeable than in an in-person interview because it will likely just be your face on the screen. So, ensure that you smile and remain expressive to seem friendly, enthusiastic, and genuinely interested. 

Remember, when you wave goodbye you don’t turn invisible. Appear happy and responsive until the call ends or the interview window closes.

7. Take some control

Obviously, you’re the interviewee, not the interviewer and it won’t look good if you fight for power over the conversation and try to lead it. 

However, confidence goes a long way. And there’s nothing wrong with being chatty. 

It looks good to introduce yourself when the call begins, and it’s great if you ask questions. The interview is your chance to ask your own questions too, so prepare some. This will show that you are committed to the course and interested in the university. In a group interview, this becomes even more important as you want to stand out!

8. Follow-up after the interview

Send a formal yet enthusiastic thank you note to the interviewer expressing your appreciation for their time. It’s a small gesture that can go a long way and set you apart from other candidates.

How we can help

Preparing for an online university interview may seem daunting, but with thorough preparation, you can navigate it successfully. 

Here at The Profs, we have a talented team of tutors who are experienced in online interviews and university admissions. So, if you’re worrying, stop! We can coach you through the whole process. And rest assured, you can trust our skills. 95% of our students get into their first or second-choice universities! Why not join them?

Good luck with your online interview!

 

FAQ

What technical considerations should I keep in mind for an online interview?

For a smooth online interview experience, test your audio and video settings in advance, ensure proper lighting and clutter-free background, and position your camera at eye level. Close social media along with any unnecessary applications or browser tabs to avoid distractions or technical issues during the interview.

How should I handle technical glitches or interruptions during an online interview?

In case of technical glitches or interruptions, remain calm and composed. Inform the interviewer about the issue and request a moment to resolve it. If necessary, consider having a backup device or alternative communication method, such as a phone, ready in case the issue persists. Demonstrate adaptability and problem-solving skills in such situations. Call or email the institution to inform them of the technical error if you are unable to continue the interview.

What are the pros and cons of an online interview?

The pros of an online interview include convenience, as it eliminates the need for travel and flexibility in scheduling. It also allows for remote participation, making it accessible for applicants from different locations. However, potential cons include technical issues that may disrupt the interview experience and the inability to establish in-person rapport with the interviewer. For more information on this, read this article.

How are online interviews conducted?

Online interviews are typically conducted using video conferencing platforms such as Zoom or Skype. Applicants receive an invitation with a link to join the virtual interview at a specific date and time. During the interview, both the interviewer and the applicant connect via video and audio, simulating a face-to-face conversation. For more information on this, read this article.

Can I request an online interview from my university?

While the availability of online interviews may vary depending on the university and programme, it is possible to request an online interview in certain cases. 

Contact the admissions department or the designated point of contact at your university to inquire about their policy on online interviews and to express your preference for this format. They will provide guidance and inform you of the available options for conducting your interview. 

If you would prefer an online interview due to a disability or due to your geographic location as an international applicant, ensure that you mention this as universities usually have accommodations in place.

What is the university application process?

Usually, students applying to study an undergraduate course submit a UCAS application to 5 universities maximum. As standard practice, they will need to meet their university’s specified A level or IB (or equivalent) grade requirements as well as provide a personal statement. For certain courses, some universities might require the completion of an admissions test, portfolio/written work, and/or an interview. The university could be online (either synchronised or asynchronised) or in-person. Read this article for more information on the interview process! 

So, it’s very important that you always check the specific requirements of your chosen course and university as well as any key dates (deadlines are subject to change each year)!