Cambridge interviews vary from subject to subject and from College to College, but the information below provides a guide as to what you can expect at Sidney.
The exact format of interviews at Sidney differs from subject to subject: see our Subjects pages for more details and learn more by exploring this page.
Cambridge's undergraduate interviews will take place virtually in 2021 (see more on the University of Cambridge website).
Why do we interview?
There's no blueprint for an ideal Cambridge student. We assess everyone individually, which means we look at – and for – different things in different people for different courses. We use interviews because they allow us to find out more about your enthusiasm for your subject, your academic strengths, and your potential to make the most of our teaching system. Discover more on the University of Cambridge website.
- Does it all hinge on the interview?
No! We have a holistic admissions process and although interviews play an important part in our admissions process, it's important to stress that they are just one factor in making our final decision. Alongside interviews, we also place great importance on your academic record, the information provided on your UCAS form and SAQ, your reference, written work, and admissions assessments.
- How many applicants are invited to interview?
Due to the level of competition for places at Cambridge, we're not able to interview every applicant, and some candidates will not be invited for an interview.
At Sidney Sussex we interview all candidates who have a realistic chance of being offered a place, which in recent years has been around 80% of our applicants.
- What is the interview format at Sidney?
Most candidates will have two interviews in Cambridge (usually in Sidney Sussex College), lasting about 25-30 minutes each. See more information on our Subject pages. We try our best to schedule interviews on the same day, and can provide accommodation (free of charge) if you'll be expected to stay for two days. We'll provide you with free accommodation if you have a long journey ahead, and there's financial assistance available to certain applicants for travelling to and from Cambridge.
Interviews typically take place during the first three weeks in December, and you should make sure you're available around this time as it's very difficult for us to reschedule interviews except in cases of illness or other serious problems.
Some applicants may be required to study a short text before an interview, and these applicants will be informed about this in the invitation to interview email. They'll be allocated a reading time and reading room.
Our interviewers are fully aware that interviews can be a daunting experience for many candidates, and they'll do their very best to put you at ease.
Interviewers will not try to 'trip you up' or make you feel stupid, and will not ask any trick questions. The aim is to assess your academic potential and suitability for the course chosen.
Cambridge has a unique supervisions teaching system, which allows our students to engage with new ideas at a high level and think conceptually. Many interviews are almost like a mini supervision, and so they're a great way for you and our interviewers to ensure that you'll respond well to the teaching methods used at Cambridge.
Just remember that we're not looking for a smooth or polished performance - we're simply interested in what you say, not how you say it!
- Overseas interviews
Information about overseas interviews can be found on the University of Cambridge website. You're strongly encouraged to apply for an interview in your home or school country if this is an option - there's no advantage to being interviewed in Cambridge. If you'd like to know more about Cambridge interviews, please look at the University's information pages for advice and tips.
Interviews at Sidney
This miniseries of mock interviews showcases examples of questions that a University of Cambridge undergraduate applicant might be asked at a Cambridge interview across a variety of different subjects.
We hope that these videos will give you confidence in your ability to answer similar questions, and will help to shed some light on this part of the Cambridge admissions process. Please do remember that the interviews are just one part of our holistic admissions process, and that you can learn more about applying on the University website.