Interview guidelines

These guidelines are for King's applicants, to be read in the context of the Applicant Information. We keep them available all year in case they are also useful to prospective students.

The questions that you will be asked in your interviews will vary from subject to subject and from interviewer to interviewer.  Nonetheless the following general points may be helpful:

  1. Almost all candidates are nervous in their interviews. We expect this, and make allowances. If you get so nervous that you cannot think at all, say so. It usually helps, and doesn't count against you; we know this is the first interview that many of you will have. 
  2. In general, we are more interested in how you think when presented with new ideas than finding out exactly how much you already know.  This means that you are likely to find yourself being asked questions about subjects which you have not thought about before.  Don't panic. Say if you don't understand the question, since you may well get more questions on the same or related topics. We are not trying to make you feel ignorant; it is just that we learn very little from asking questions about subjects you can discuss without having to think.
  3. If you are asked questions about your activities, opinions or attitudes, remember that there is no 'correct' answer. Don't try to guess what the interviewer wants to hear, and don't assume that he or she will be impressed if your opinion is the same as theirs. Expect to have your answers questioned and be prepared to defend your point of view.
  4. Give yourself time before the interview to think about the 'obvious' questions that you will be asked. Why have you chosen your particular subject? If you wrote that you have specific interests or passions on your application form, why do you enjoy them? What have they taught you? Are there items in the news that are connected with your chosen subject? What do you think about them? And so on. Of course you will probably find that you are not asked precisely these questions, but preparing yourself in this way may help.
  5. In most interviews, you will be given a chance, usually at the end, to ask questions or to say something about yourself that you feel is important and which has not been covered in the interview. Think in advance whether there is anything that you would like to say or ask at this stage. Don't invent something just for the sake of it - most candidates do not ask anything - but be ready to take advantage of the opportunity if you have a genuine concern.
  6. If you can, get someone to give you interview practice. If not, spend half-an-hour asking yourself questions - you will probably ask much harder questions than your interviewers. Remember that many of our successful candidates come out of their interviews thinking that they have done badly - and some of our unsuccessful candidates think that they did really well! Be on time, relax, be honest, be awake, look your interviewer in the eye, and good luck.

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