Training for admissions interviewing


The Oxford Learning Institute offers the following opportunities for tutors and others to prepare for their roles in undergraduate admissions interviewing at Oxford:

  • Non-tutored online course
    This contains a comprehensive overview of the undergraduate admissions process, preparing tutors for theoretical and practical aspects of selecting undergraduate students. Suitable for those assisting with undergraduate admissions (e.g. graduate student ‘helpers’ or note takers) and tutors who have previously taken the tutored course and need an update.
  • Tutored online course
    This contains the same material as the non-tutored course. In addition, on the tutored course, participants submit a draft interview plan and receive feedback on it from an “online tutor”. The course is for those who expect to take a leading role in undergraduate admissions interviewing.
  • In-person admissions interviewing practice sessions
    This allows tutors an invaluable opportunity to put what they have learned from the online course into practice, planning and undertaking a practice interview with a current Oxford undergraduate in the applicant ‘role’. These are conducted in subject area groups and supported by facilitators who are experienced interviewers. Only open to tutors who have completed the Tutored online course.

For graduate admissions the following preparation is available:

  • Online graduate admissions guidance 
    This comprehensive online resource is provided for the use of graduate admissions assessors and admissions staff (i.e. all those involved in selecting graduate students for admission).

The collegiate University expects all those involved in interviewing candidates for admission to receive appropriate briefings on the process. The compulsory element of these briefings for new staff takes the form of an online course which takes about 5-6 hours to complete. We are able to offer new appointees the opportunity to complete this online course before arriving in Oxford, if they wish to do so.

Practice interviews are also offered as an optional extra learning opportunity for those expecting to interview undergraduate candidates. To qualify to take part in practice interviews, you must complete the tutored online course by a deadline 3 weeks beforehand. The deadline is set to allow the Learning Institute sufficient time to recruit student interviewees in appropriate disciplines.

Will I be expected to do interviewing this year?

College Tutorial Fellows and Lecturers, including College Lecturers, Associate Professors, etc. are normally expected to take a leading role in admissions interviewing.

If you have been appointed as a Departmental or Faculty Lecturer, or as a Research Officer or Fellow and do not have a formal college association, it is possible that you will not be expected to take part in the Admissions process. However, there is a strong chance that you will be invited by a College to assist them because of your specific disciplinary expertise. If you are unsure of your involvement in Admissions you would be well-advised to ask your Line Manager or Mentor for advice on whether to take part in this training opportunity.

What does the tutored online course involve?

New "lead interviewers" are expected to undertake the tutored online training course which covers the legal and regulatory context within which admissions interviewing at Oxford takes place. Completion entails reading online course materials, reflecting on them using the prompting questions and exercises provided as well as drafting and submitting an interview plan for the participant's own course. An "online tutor" (an experienced Admissions Officer or Tutor, or a member of the Learning Institute or the Admissions Office) will assess submitted interview plans and provide feedback on these to the course participants.

Online course availability

In 2016 the online Undergraduate admissions interviewing course will be available from 1 August to 2 December, allowing participants flexibility to complete the course at their most convenient time. We will continue to take new enrolments until one week before the closing date (i.e. Friday 25 November). You can take part from anywhere provided internet access is available. Activities can be undertaken at any time within the period and we suggest that, on average, a total of 5-6 hours' work is required to complete the course. Depending on how much of the linked background material you access and read, it is possible for it to take longer. We strongly recommend that you do not try to complete too much work at one time but allow multiple, shorter periods of work.

You will access the online course using Oxford Single Sign-On (SSO) and your "individual enrolment key" supplied by the Learning Institute. Sign up for the tutored online training course and once we receive your booking form we will send you your enrolment key as soon as possible (within 7 days once the course has commenced) and email you with instructions on how to access the course and what to do next.

New appointees who do not yet have Oxford Single Sign-On access can be accommodated with a temporary account. If we set this up for you, it is important for you to continue to use the temporary account to access the Admissions Course until you have completed it. 

If you are a new appointee and prefer to wait until your arrive in Oxford before attempting this course, you should sign up for the tutored online training course when ready, quoting your Oxford email address and following the instructions for using SSO to access the course.

Non-tutored online course

Additionally a non-tutored online course will be available during the same time period and also throughout the interview period in weeks 9 and 10 of Michaelmas term (i.e. 1 August to 16 December). The course is intended for people who will be assisting with the admissions process (e.g. Graduate Student ‘helpers’ or those taking notes).

We also recommend experienced interviewers follow the non-tutored version of the online course as a refresher to ensure they are up-to-date with changes in admissions policy and practice. In response to feedback from tutors, this year we will be including a "what’s new" feature on the contents page so colleagues can navigate easily to modules which have been updated.

The course contains similar materials to those in the tutored course but no tutor support is included. We recommend course participants try to negotiate opportunities to discuss the course and their completed exercises with more experienced colleagues in their own subject areas.

Access to the non-tutored course is by Oxford Single Sign-On. You will be able to access the course directly, without the need for booking in advance. Go to the Online courses website and select Undergraduate Admissions Non-tutored course 2016 from the Available Courses list. This course will be available from 1 August 2016.

Remember, anyone taking an active role in making admissions decisions, who has not previously taken the course, should complete the tutored online course.

Graduate admissions

Support for the preparation of those who are involved in selecting graduate students for admission is available in the form of online materials. This resource is similar to the non-tutored undergraduate admissions course. It covers: good practice in admissions; selection processes; criteria and record keeping; where interviews fit in the selection process as a whole; and making and justifying decisions. Where there are overlaps with the undergraduate admissions interviewing online course, these are signalled to enable those already familiar with that course to avoid unnecessary repetition but briefly to revisit any materials if they would like to remind themselves of the main points.

The materials are available all year, except for a short annual closure period for updating which will take place during the summer vacation.

Access to these materials is by self-registration (provided you have an Oxford University email address). Once you have created an account on the self-registration page you will be able to access the course directly, without the need for booking in advance. Go to the Graduate admissions assessors and admissions staff guidance.

Recommended approach to online learning

We recommend that a good approach to completing the course and getting the most benefit from the time spent is to set aside half to one hour a day over 1 or 2 working weeks (i.e. 5 or 6 hours in total). This would be better than spreading the work over a longer period, or than trying to complete it in an intensive session just before a deadline. Time to reflect in between short periods of time spent reading the course materials will enable you to consider the possible implications for practice of what you have read, without the reading activity coming to feel too burdensome. When submitting an online assignment you should expect to allow time for the tutor to respond with feedback, before moving on to the next assignment.

Practice interviews

The practice interviews (Undergraduate admissions interviewing: practice session) with volunteer student candidates constitute an optional element of training but previous participants have found them to be invaluable. Only lead interviewers who have successfully completed the tutored online course will be eligible to take part and the following deadlines will apply.

To take part in the practice interviews on: You must complete all the requirements of the online course:
Monday, 26 September 2016 (all Disciplines) before Monday, 5 September 2016
Friday, 18 November 2016 (for Humanities and Social Sciences disciplines) before Friday, 28 October 2016
Wednesday, 23 November 2016 (for MPLS and Medical Sciences disciplines) before Wednesday, 2 November 2016