26 Nov 2021
Oxford Interviews: Tutor Q&A
Dr Daniela Omlor
- Tutorial Fellow in Spanish
26 Nov 2021
Dr Daniela Omlor is a Tutorial Fellow in Spanish at Lincoln College. She teaches the whole breadth of the Spanish course to first-year undergraduates at Lincoln, and is involved with admissions interviews. Her research focuses on contemporary Spanish literature, with a particular emphasis on memory, trauma, and exile.
Why do you need to interview people for a place at Oxford when other places do not?
We try to gather as much information as possible on each candidate in order to base our decision on more than just the UCAS form. The interview is meant to be like a mini tutorial. This means that it is a good way of testing how you would adapt to that style of teaching.
Do you interview everybody who applies?
In Modern Languages, we interview more than 80% of candidates. I always say that you should not rule yourself out. If you do not apply, we most certainly cannot interview you – so please, please apply!
Have interviews changed a lot because of the pandemic?
They have had to move online, but we have tried to keep the format as similar as possible.
What do you do in an interview? Is it really long?
In an interview for Modern Languages and joint schools we will normally ask you about your motivations for wanting to study this particular subject. Most of the time, you will also be given a short reading task consisting either of a poem or another kind of short text in English or in the language you are applying to study (obviously not, if you are applying to study a language from scratch). There will be some time to read before the tutors ask you some questions. Usually, we ask what you think the text is about. We may ask about the style and the tone. Is the extract descriptive? Full of action? Is it a speech? If you say that the text is sad or funny, we will ask you why. Is there something about the language used that makes this text particularly funny or sad? Who is speaking? What is the impact on the reader? What do we know and what don’t we know? If you are applying for a language that you have studied up to A level we will also spend some time speaking the language. Although no one is expecting you to be bilingual, we want to check that your level is commensurate with how long you have studied the language for. It is normal to make mistakes. In fact, you cannot improve your speaking skills if you do not make any, hence there is no need to overly worry about this. A typical interview lasts about 30 minutes. While this may seem really long, time usually flies and it will be over quicker than you think.
How different would a science interview be?
No idea, but I recommend watching this interview demonstration with our Physics Fellow Kimberly Palladino - it will give you a good idea of what to expect from a science interview.
Are the interviewers trying to catch me out with weird or trick questions?
A: No! We want you to perform to the best of your ability, although our focus will clearly be academic. Through the interview process we are trying to understand your thought process. Any question we ask is meant to make you think and perhaps reconsider what you have already said in order to develop and refine your line of thought. While we want to see you think on your feet, we value a measured response over speed. As I said, this is very similar to what we would do in a tutorial. The interview is most certainly not a memory test or a battle of wits.
What happens if I have a disability or limited access to technology?
Let the College know as soon as possible. We will always make accommodations to ensure that your experience at interview is comparable to that of other candidates.
Will you tell me if I have got in at the end of the interview?
We will let you know the outcome of your application after Christmas (normally mid-January). At the end of the interview we need to compare notes, taking into account any other interviews you may have had and what the field of applicants looks like in any given year in order to reach an informed decision and be as fair as possible to all candidates.
What one piece of advice would you give to interviewees?
Be yourself. Don't try to be something you are not. There is not a particular 'type' of person that we are looking for at Lincoln.