Autumn at Fitzwilliam College

Admissions interviews 2020 – a guide

The 2020 Admissions interviews will be taking place virtually. We aim to provide guidance to support you ahead of your interview. However, additional guidance may apply, and will vary by subject – please ensure you read all correspondence carefully, and fill in any required forms.

Further general guidance about preparing for interviews can be found on the University of Cambridge website, including videos detailing how to use common interviewing platforms. Please note that some information may be college specific. In case of discrepancies always prioritise information from the college.

You'll find more information about Whereby - the browser-based video conferencing platform that we are using for all virtual interviews here and in the right-hand panel. It is very easy for both candidates and interviewers to use.

Interviews are processed for different subjects, at different times. Please be patient.

We aim to notify those who are invited to interview at least two weeks in advance, and scheduling can depend on pre- and at-interview assessments. You will be contacted using the email address that you supplied during your application. Check your email inbox (including spam folders) regularly, and add to your safe senders list if your email provider allows this.

Please read your correspondence carefully. Subjects have different requirements, including, in some cases, assessments, and there are different forms to return. 

Explore the technology is the chosen platform for most interviews (there may be exceptions, and you will be contacted individually about these). Users don’t need to download new software, or have an account, and need only a common and up-to-date web browser. We recommend Chrome for optimum performance. It can be used on mobile phones, tablets, and PCs. The videoconferencing quality is good and it offers the same features as many others products, including the ability to text-chat and to share documents or images on your screen. Check it out, by creating a free account. Please also see the University of Cambridge video (scroll down).

In interviews in some subjects, you may be required to use an interactive whiteboard. You will be told in advance if this applies to your interview. Miro is intuitive, but familiarise yourself with it prior to your interview, by creating a free account. Try to do this with any other software or site which is to be used for the interview.

Remember: have pen – one that creates a strong, dark line – and paper with you. You may be asked to share this with the interviewer over the camera.

Check your interview location – if you can

If you choose to be interviewed from your school, liaise with your teacher(s) about where the interview will take place, and ask to check the technology out. We advise using a device that connects to the internet through a cable connection rather than using wifi. Wired connections are generally more reliable than wireless.

If you choose to be interviewed at home, check your connection, and ensure your privacy, so you are not distracted. Find a quiet space, ask anyone else in your home to be quiet, and place a sign on the door. Try to be in an uncluttered environment, if possible, with table space to do any working.

Remember, candidates must not be accompanied, except in exceptional circumstances.

The interview should not be recorded in any way.

Make sure you are comfortable – wear clothes which you are comfortable in, go to the loo, sit in a comfortable chair, check your camera position and backdrop. Have everything you need with you, including pen and paper.

Try to relax. The aim of the interview is to imitate a supervision (small group teaching session), and to test your thinking. Some things may be new to you – your critical thinking in how you tackle this new material is what is being assessed.

Each candidate will have an initial meeting on Whereby with two current Fitzwilliam Students, shortly before the start of their first interview. The aim of your initial conversation with current Fitzwilliam students is to check your connection, and to support you – it is not part of the interview. If you want to have a conversation with the students, please do; equally, if you do not, that is fine – you will need to speak to check your set-up. 

If the technology fails

Sit tight. Take a deep breath. Remain calm. In general the action you take will inevitably depend on the severity of the problem. If the screen freezes, for example, you may be asked to leave the interview and sign straight back in, or the meeting may be terminated and started again. If neither of these solutions works, you may be asked to try turning video off your video if it is an interview that does not require technical content. 

You will be given more detailed information in advance of your interview on what to do in various circumstances. In the worst-case scenario, your interview will be rescheduled. No candidate will be disadvantaged because of technological issues.

Whereby and Bluetooth: sometimes Bluetooth headsets do not work with Whereby. You may be asked to use your device’s inbuilt microphone and speaker(s) if necessary.

Whereby Candidates User Guide