I had two interviews one at Queens’ in December and one at Magdalene in January as I was pooled in the Winter pool.
In both of them I had two interviewers and they both lasted about 40 minutes. The interviews took place in the office of the Director of Studies for Law at each college. When I arrived at Magdalene after being accepted, I became fond of this room as we spent a lot of time in it for supervisions.
The rooms were very comfortable, I sat in a comfy armchair for both interviews.
For Queens’ they required me to send a few weeks before the interview list of three topics I would be happy to discuss at the interview, these topics did not have to be law related. I choose Nazi Germany, prisoner voting and embryonic stem cell research. The topic we ended up discussing was Nazi Germany and the legal route through which Hitler came to power. I was also presented with some oral problem questions to work through and the interviewer would change the facts every time I gave an answer.
At Magdalene I was given a piece of statute to look at half an hour before the interview and a set of facts to apply to statute to. For this half hour I was locked in a room with no access to notes or the internet. We spent about half of the time talking through this activity. The remainder of the interview was similar to Queens’ as I was presented with oral problem questions.
The format for both of the interviews was as expected. I was expecting oral problem questions and for the interviewers to push me on my responses and change the facts to see if that would change my answer.
I wasn’t quite expecting being asked some very controversial legal questions in the Magdalene interview as I was asked if I thought Polish prisoners of war in concentration camps in Nazi Germany could be guilty of assisting in the murder of the Jews if they were acting under orders from the Nazis in carrying out the killings.
I primarily prepared through reading newspaper articles and making notes on the argument of the writer, the evidence used and my criticisms of it. This was helpful in preparing me to be critical when presented with an argument.
I think it would have been helpful if I had looked online at a piece of statute as it would have been a little less intimidating when I was presented with one before the interview.
Yes I actually enjoyed it in the end – the interviewers want to push you they don’t want to see you fail.
Really think of the interview as an exercise in thinking aloud. I would advise being very prepared in terms of travel arrangements and timing as these small things can end up being the most stressful.
Read the news – I cannot emphasise enough how important this is. I have come across so many applicants who are very intelligent but have no awareness of what is going on in the world. Reading the news from a variety of sources is helpful in so many ways, it improves your knowledge, how you argue and how you write. Also there is nothing more embarrassing than being asked about a current issue in an interview and not knowing anything about it.