Clare College Cambridge

Interview Notes

Please Note: This year's interviews will be held between Monday 9th December and Thursday 19th December. Candidates are asked to keep this period free to aid scheduling of interviews. If you do have an unavoidable commitment during that time, please let us know of it at least a month in advance. We will do our very best to fit in with particular needs, but cannot guarantee to do so.


We interview the great majority of applicants, and the interviews are an important component of our assessment procedure. The decisions on which candidates to interview are made after carefully examining every application, taking into account information from the Extenuating Circumstances Form if this has been submitted. For medics, the results of the BMAT are also considered. For subjects with a pre-interview assessment, we also look at these results before making decisions.

In addition to interviews, we may ask candidates to take a short test and/or to send in examples of school/college work. Further details about the arrangements for each subject are given on the subject pages. Where school/college work is requested, we will write to candidates in good time before the interviews to ask them to send in this material.

If you have additional support requirements please contact the Tutorial/Admissions Office on 01223 33256 or by e-mail on

What to expect at interview:

Most applicants find the interviews a daunting prospect. We try our best to make them relaxed and informal, so that applicants are able to present themselves in the best possible way, despite nervousness or inexperience in the interview situation. The Interview video gives an idea of what interviews are like.

The teaching undergraduates receive in college is on a small group basis, called a "supervision". In some ways this is similar to an interview, and your interviewers - your future teachers - are assessing your teachability.

There are no tricks at interviews. Interviewers know you may be nervous. They are not trying to catch you out; they are trying to challenge you to think for yourself. Often there are no right or wrong answers to the questions, and the way you arrive at an answer may be of greater interest than the answer itself.

The exact form and length of interviews varies between subjects, but most applicants will have two or three interviews of 20-30 minutes. Details are available on the subject webpages. When you apply, we will send you full details, explaining what will be involved and if any written work will be required. Accommodation (free of charge) is available for those who need it.

If you are already studying the subject you wish to study at university then we encourage you to read critically about your subject, exploring it beyond the limitations of the A level syllabus. What is going on in your chosen subject, why you do you want to study it, and why you want to study it at Cambridge? If you are applying for a subject that is new to you, such as Law, you will need to have found out enough about it to know why you want to study it.

What are we looking for?

There is no blueprint for the ideal student, but we look for academic potential, self-motivation and enthusiasm for the subject. The interviews are the final piece of the jigsaw that shows us which candidates to select for places at Cambridge.