Most applicants for a place at Trinity are invited to have an interview. Our applicants are usually very able students with excellent academic records, high exam predictions and strong support from their schools. To choose between them we need more information than the application form usually provides. An interview gives us the opportunity to see candidates individually and talk to them about the subject they want to study.
The 2021 interviews
In 2021, the interview process will be run online, via the platform Zoom. If you are invited to have an interview, it would be helpful to familiarise yourself with this platform if you haven’t done so already. It is free to sign up to an account (via https://zoom.us/), and you don’t need to pay for this. You will however need to be confident that you have access to a reliable internet connection, on a computer with a video camera, in a place where you can be confident you won’t be disturbed during the interview. It is for you to decide where that will be. It can be in your school, your home or somewhere else – wherever you feel most comfortable and have most confidence that you won’t be interrupted. If you anticipate any problems with this, please be in touch with us to explain your situation.
For the following subjects, we would like you to take a written College test before your interview, which we will invigilate remotely: Chemical Engineering, Computer Science, Engineering, Natural Sciences and Music. The test will either be in the week before the interview, or immediately before the interview is due to begin. We will send you further details if you are selected for interview, and you will also find relevant information on the subject pages of this website.
For the interview itself, for subjects in the Arts and Humanities as well as Psychological & Behavioural Sciences, you don’t need anything except for a computer with a video camera and a stable internet connection.
For candidates being interviewed in Chemical Engineering, Computer Science, Engineering, Mathematics, Medicine and Natural Sciences, you will need to have access to a graphics tablet (or ‘drawing tablet’) during your interview. This could be an iPad or another device plugged into your computer. A typical such device is a Wacom One with a stylus (pen) which costs about £36 to purchase. This is so that we can see what you write during the interview, such as if we ask you to make some calculations. There is no need to buy anything other than a small sized device. If you are in a subject that requires a graphics tablet and you have not used one before, we strongly recommend you practise with one before your interview.
We recognise that this imposes an additional cost upon you, although you will not have to pay for transport to Cambridge for the interview. You will almost certainly need to use a graphics tablet if you go on to study at a leading University in a subject that is requiring it here for interview, and so it is a worthwhile investment. However, if you are from a low-income family in the UK (for example, if you are in receipt of free school meals), please let us know and we will reimburse you for the cost of the tablet. We will expect you to return the graphics tablet to us by post once the interviews are over.
If you are invited to have one or more interviews, you will be sent a single link. We strongly encourage you to log in for your interview(s) 10 minutes in advance. You will be met there by some of our student helpers, who will make sure your technology is working well. They will pass you through to the interviewers at the appropriate time. The interviews themselves will be with one or more members of the teaching staff in the subject you intend to study in the first year.
The interview content
The type of discussion you will have in an interview varies from subject to subject. If you are applying for an Arts and Humanities subject, you should be prepared to talk about your reading outside the school syllabus and to put forward your own ideas and be able to develop them through the discussion. If you are applying to a subject in the Sciences or Mathematics, you will be asked to work through a number of problems which are not entirely standard in type. We are less interested in your conclusions than the methods you use to reach them. The interviews are academically focused, and we don’t set traps or ask trick questions to catch you out.
Further details about the format of interviews in particular disciplines are available on our subject notes pages:
To give you a sense of what interviews are like, we have filmed two mock examples, both held in person (before 2020). These interviews are in full, one in the sciences and one in an arts subject. The questions asked here by our interviewers are similar to those they have asked previously in interviews. The interviewees in both videos are current Trinity students, who – to make the interview more realistic – are studying different subjects to those for which they were interviewed here. They had not previously met their interviewers or been informed about the questions they would be asked. We’ve kept the setting as close as possible to how interviews actually take place.
We are planning to film a mock interview held remotely (as they will be in 2021) to go online here before those interviews begin, so you can see what they are like, but in terms of the content, these two interviews should give you a good indication of what sorts of questions to expect.
Interview 1: Engineering
Interviewer: Professor Matthew Juniper (Engineering)
Interview 2: Law
Interviewers: Dr Louise Merrett and Dr Ben Spagnolo (both in Law).