As with any interview at the University of Oxford, your Law interviews are going to be difficult and require you to think outside of the box.
Once you get your Interview Invitation, you will only have a couple of weeks before you have to attend. Hopefully, you should already have begun preparations beforehand in order to ensure you know what you are doing on the day.
We believe that, when it comes to interviews, the best way to prepare is through practice. So this guide will explore some questions that you could be asked at your interview and explain the best approach for answering them effectively and naturally.
Before we get started, let’s quickly take a look at what the Oxford Law Interview process is like.
The Basics of Oxford Law Interviews
Oxford Interview Process
The Oxford interview process is designed to give the tutors on your course or chosen college the chance to learn more about you as an applicant. They want to provide offers to the applicants that they feel will perform well and have a genuine interest in studying there. This will be achieved not just with your grades and subject knowledge but with your deeper understanding of the topic and ability to connect with the panel.
You will likely have at least two interviews during the process with different tutors and different colleges. Therefore, you will need to find an approach that works well generally in order to make a good impression on as many interviewers as you can.
Oxford interviews traditionally take place in December and are held in person at the campus. As you will likely have more than one interview, these will usually take place over two days, where accommodation and food will be provided to you. Under certain circumstances, your interview may be held remotely via video call, but the principles of the interview will stay the same.
Oxbridge Interview Style
Oxford uses a Panel, or ‘Traditional’, interview style with all applicants, so the process follows a simple “question-answer” format. Although the format is simple, the questions won’t be. Depending on your subject, you will be answering questions about your personal experiences, real-world events, specific subject knowledge and much more. Some questions may feel irrelevant or strange at first but everything asked in the interview is used to help the admissions team make their decision.
You won’t get any official feedback during or straight after the interview, so you will have to wait until Oxford send out its offers in January.
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Example Oxford Law Interview Question
We’ve looked at the general format of Oxford Interviews, so now it’s time to look at law specifically.
What Are Oxford Law interview Questions Like?
Oxford law interview questions tend to replicate the style of questions asked in a tutorial. A tutorial is Oxford’s main method of teaching which is an academic conversation between a tutor and students. Oxford Law Interview questions are designed to assess whether you are suitable for the Oxford tutorial system.
The tutors want to know how you think and whether or not you would learn well in that environment, as well as your academic abilities and potential. It is not simply a test of what you know, so the tutors want to see if you can justify your views, consider objections, defend your view in light of those objections, and modify your view where appropriate.
Although the same can be said for many other humanities-based subjects, Oxford Law Interview questions often do not have a right or wrong answer. What matters is your articulation and reasoning abilities, neither of which can be revised in a textbook. Therefore, genuine practice is the best way to develop and fine-tune your interview skills.
Let’s take a look at some different question types that you may be asked in your interview and see how you could approach your answer.
Oxford Law Interview Question - Example 1
You will likely be asked about your Personal Statement at the start of the interview. This may be in direct reference to something you have discussed, or it may be left more open-ended, with the intention of letting you decide what you speak about. For example:
What is your proudest moment?
While they aren’t asking about your Personal Statement here, it is expected that you will discuss something that you had already written about. If you failed to mention your proudest achievement within your Personal Statement then that will leave a bad impression on your writing skills or may even make you look dishonest.
Make sure you know what you have written about in your personal statement; especially the elements about Law. The tutors will probably know more about it than you will – and that’s ok! Just make sure that you are prepared to say something about what you have written, even if they do not specifically mention it. Consistency between your Statement and your interview answers will strengthen your integrity and honesty in the eyes of the interviewers.
How do you answer this specific question though? This is an incredibly subjective matter that has no correct answer. However, you should be truthful to yourself when answering. You could discuss any of your most impressive achievements, be it winning an award to gaining a desirable placement, but if these aren’t your proudest moments then don’t pretend they are.
If your proudest moment is a smaller or more personal achievement, then be honest and discuss it. Interviewers can tell when an applicant is being disingenuous or just trying to impress them, but they will also know if you are truly speaking from the heart about your experiences. In a subject like law, where ethics are crucial, your character is being judged just as much as your abilities.
Oxford Law Interview Question - Example 2
Should it be illegal to run a red light in the middle of the night on an empty road?
This particular question was asked by tutors at St. Anne’s college and is an example of an open-ended question based on a real-world issue. While it is phrased as a simple “yes-or-no” question, you will be expected to provide reasoning for your opinion here.
Of course, you aren’t going to be expected to solve this problem in a fully-realistic context, but simply expressing your opinion on the matter will give the interviewers an insight into your thought process. This type of question could come in hundreds of forms, but the principle is always the same – express your opinion on the subject and provide reasoning in a fair and logical manner.
In terms of this question specifically, the two primary stances you could take are equally sensible in the context of the interview as each side has arguments that could be made.
Yes, it should be illegal.
Traffic laws are put in place for a reason and adding grey areas to said laws will allow for more risk to the public and more legal complications in regard to context and proof.
No, it shouldn’t be illegal.
The notion of decriminalising this act is less so about relaxing traffic laws and more so about allocating more resources to prevent traffic violations that actually pose a risk to the public.
It is important to consider both sides of the argument in your explanation to show that you are able to look at issues with a wider lens. However, don’t make the mistake of sitting on the fence unless you can provide an effective middle ground. Oxford looks for students who are decisive and can take a stance on issues, which is a necessary skill for any law student.
Oxford Law Interview Question - Example 3
Before your interview, you might be given something to read, such as an extract from a legal case or statute. You will then have a conversation about it in the interview. These questions can be about anything in the legal field, so you won’t necessarily be expected to have a firm understanding of the topic outside of what is given to you.
Some questions you could be asked include:
- Which court decided the case?
- What are the names of the parties?
- How many judges presided?
- On what page does the judgement begin?
- What are the relevant facts of the case?
- What remedy did the claimant want?
- Who won the case?
- What are the factors that influenced the court’s decision?
- Did all the judges agree with each other?
- Do you agree with the outcome of the case? Why or why not?
As we said, you won’t possibly be able to revise the specifics of these scenarios in advance, so these questions will need to be answered using your general legal knowledge. The tutors know that your understanding of the legal system is limited at this time, so don’t worry too much about making small errors in your terminology or referencing.
Unlike the second question, there will be definitively correct answers to most of these questions, but the point of these tasks isn’t always to get it right. You will once again be judged on your reasoning and articulation of your point in order to justify your answer. Getting it correct obviously helps, but providing an explanation that is logical and well-rounded will still be a positive, even if you didn’t get specific details correct.
The tutors understand that you are under great pressure both before and during the interview, so mistakes are naturally going to happen. What matters the most is that you have put effort and understanding into your answer.
Here are some things to think about in your reading time if you have been given a statute:
Oxford Law Interview Question - Example 4
This is a common question for many subjects and won’t be exclusive to your Oxford interview, as interviewers want to understand each applicant’s motivation for applying. Asking such a direct question allows them, and you, to get straight to the point about why you are applying for this course.
We have a guide dedicated to this question here, but let’s quickly run through the basics to consider when answering this question:
1. Discuss the Trigger
The trigger is essentially your light-bulb moment – the point you realised you had an interest in law. This could be anything, so be honest if your trigger is something that seems silly or insignificant. An honest answer will be worth much more than a corny or disingenuous one, so try and have a sense of humour about it if your trigger isn’t that groundbreaking.
2. Explain your Development
Your trigger isn’t as important as how you acted upon it, so this is the key part of your answer. This is your chance to discuss a variety of different experiences and research that you have undertaken, so be sure to have a plan in advance of what you’re going to talk about. It can be easy to become too eager and begin rushing through points without care.
3. Don't Repeat your Personal Statement
You should have discussed your most impressive achievements in your Personal Statement, so your interviewers will have already read about them. This isn’t to say that you can’t talk about them again here, but try to talk about them from a different angle and provide new information to the tutors. And if you do have any other talking points that weren’t featured in your Statement, bring them up here.
These are just a handful of example questions that you could use to practice for your Law Interview at Oxford. If you want to learn how to make the most of these questions, check out our guide to Using Sample Oxford Interview Questions.
This guide has now given you an idea of what to expect from the questions at your Oxford Law Interview. Of course, there are hundreds of potential questions you could be asked, so there’s no way of preparing for every single one. However, by following the general rules and structures for these main types of questions, you should be able to answer any question with a lot more confidence.
If you are looking for more tips on other ways to prepare before attending a Law Interview at Oxford or Cambridge, be sure to check out our Oxbridge Law Interview Preparation Checklist. If you would be interested in reading a recount of the interview from an Oxford Law student, then our Student’s Experience of the Oxford Law Interview article is for you.
Lastly, if you are looking for more in-depth support to help you through your Oxford Law Interview, learn more about our Law Interview Programme today, which supports you throughout your whole preparation. Our Oxbridge Law Premium Programme is also available to support you throughout the entire application process and triple your chances of successfully gaining your offer.
UniAdmissions will help you impress the Oxford Admissions Team and triple your chances of success.
With our Law Interview Programme you will be supported throughout the entire interview process, from initial learning through to last-minute touch-ups. With our unique curriculum of one-to-one tuition, live courses, expert resources and more, you will have everything you need to become an interview pro and get your offer.
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