Interview Preparation

TALENT WILL GET YOU IN THE DOOR BUT CHARACTER WILL KEEP YOU IN THE ROOM

Interviews are part of the selection process for the following applications:

  • Aptitude-based admissions (NTU, NUS and SMU)

  • University Scholarships

  • Yale-NUS

  • SUTD

  • US Universities

  • Some UK Universities e.g. Oxbridge

  • NTU and NUS Medicine, SIT Health Sciences, NUS Dentistry

  • NUS and SMU Law

  • Some local university courses (check the pre-requisites for more details)

General Guide to preparing for University Admissions Interviews

1/   Consider the type of interview to expect

  • University interviews can be either informative or evaluative or both

  • Evaluative interviews can be expected for prestigious universities e.g. Oxbridge and highly selective courses e.g. Medicine, Law. Questions of a more academic nature can be expected and the professors will evaluate your performance. For such interviews, you will need to read your academic subjects beyond syllabus i.e. H3 level knowledge for Oxbridge interviews, law knowledge for Law interviews etc

  • In an informative interview, it would be more like a casual chat. You have the opportunity to find out more about the university, while the university also finds out more about you. In this case, the university admissions officers may be just as keen to impress you, as you are to impress them, because they want you to choose their institution. It is not unheard of students getting an offer on the spot during the interview!

  • The format of Medicine interviews allows for both components.

2/   Research the university and course

 

  • Read the university website and find out what is unique about the university and what culture and programmes attract you to this university.

  • Read about the scholarship and the type of candidates they are looking for. Think of how to show that you fit the criteria.

  • Read about the course structure, modules and specialisations offered. Compare with similar courses in other universities and ask yourself what attracts you to this course and not other courses.

  • Formulate questions  based on what you have read and be prepared to ask them during the interview

3/   Research about your future career aspiration and think about how this university and course will help you achieve it

  • Be prepared to be asked about your motivations in entering the course or applying for the scholarship and what you hope to achieve from it. 

  • Re-read your personal statement and portfolio and expect to be asked questions on what you wrote e.g. books you read, workshops you been to.

  • You must be able to link your portfolio to your current aspiration. If your portfolio is highly relevant, all is good.

  • If there are a bunch of irrelevant stuff in your portfolio, you should deeply reflect on what you learnt from them, what skills that these "irrelevant stuff" equipped you with and how these skills allow you to stand out from your peers and make you suitable for this course.

  • Read up on the latest news, research and developments in the field and demonstrate passion and knowledge beyond your academics. 

3/   Rehearse answers to common questions

  • It’s highly likely that you’ll be asked why you want to study this particular course at this particular university. Other common questions include asking you about your grades (if one subject happens to be very poor), or your portfolio and what you have done to equip yourself with skills suitable for this course

  • Think back on your past experiences and prepare at least 5 anecdotes that demonstrate your passion and suitability for the scholarship / course. You could even talk about books that you read and people/events which inspired you.

  • Look in the mirror and rehearse. If you are too shy to look at yourself, you will be shy in front of others. Better still, find a friend to rehearse to.

  • Always say the most important thing first. Do not ramble. If you have alot to say, learn how to give a quick summary of your answer first

e.g. I wish to enter this course because of three reasons: Reason 1....Reason 2....Reason 3....Let me elaborate on each reason now....

4/  Put in your best performance that day

 

  • Dress appropriately. It is safer to be formal rather than casual. Pay attention to your hair and nails as well.

  • Arrive early, at least 10-15 min before the interview. Do a dry run beforehand so that you do not get lost along the way and end up being late.

  • Smile and greet the interviewer.  You may be a bundle of nerves internally but it is still possible to project confidence.

  • Most importantly, be enthusiastic and sincere! No one would offer any candidate a place if they knew that they were 2nd choice. Focus on showing how keen you are in joining the organisation!

 
Oxbridge Interviews
  • For Oxford and Cambridge, you will need to sit for a subject test. Based on the results of the test, you will be shortlisted for interview. You will generally be interviewed in December after your A levels via Skype. The interviews will take place in a stipulated test centre e.g. Raffles Institution.

  • For Cambridge, if you opt to be interviewed in Singapore, the interview period will be between your Prelims and A levels i.e. mid-October. As these interviews are brought forward, there may be a written test to take at the same time.

  • For both interviews, the main objective is to assess you on your teach-ability and hence your fit for Oxbridge. In other words, you can think of the interview as a mini-tutorial with your future professor. If you are unable to solve a problem, the professor would guide you and assess you on your potential to understand and grasp concepts on the spot.

  • While you are not required to have university knowledge, it would be good to read beyond your JC syllabus and understand concepts related to your course of choice

  • Access the following links for more information and resources:

 
Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences Interviews
  • The Medicine, Dentistry and Health sciences interviews are of a multiple-mini interview format.

  • In short, you will be subject to a series of short interview stations. Each station has a different theme e.g. teamwork, ethics, stress management etc. You may be asked to role-play. 

  • For NUS, there will be a 30 minute station asking you about your personal statement. The assessor will aim to understand and review your past achievements, personal qualities, and motivation for a career in medicine. Please be prepared to elaborate on the content presented in your portfolio, and share insights as to how they may have helped you prepare for a course of study, and a career in medicine.

  • Access the following links for more information: