5 Top Tips for the Oxford Law Interview

oxford law interview

With yesterday’s blog covering the Cambridge law interview, today’s is for the prospective University of Oxford undergraduates – and everything they need to know before going into the Oxford law interview.

Current Oxford undergraduate law student and contributor Samantha has all the top tips you need to impress Oxford colleges and interviewers over the next couple of weeks…

Congratulations on landing an Oxford law interview! Here are some tips to help you through…

Oxford Law Interview Top Tip 1: Read the Case Carefully

Take your time and pay attention to what arguments are being made and why. Try to understand the different considerations as these will be relevant to the questions being asked.

With contentious legal issues, there is often no right answers; put yourself in the judge’s shoes and identify the overarching factors that compelled the judge to rule as he did.

It is important to make full use of the time given to read the case and if possible to annotate or mark out the important parts of the case. This can make it easy for you to refer back carefully to the case provided to substantiate your views.

In some interviews, there will be no case provided, but instead the interviewer will pose a hypothetical question. The underlying approach is ultimately the same – the interviewers want you to reason with the conflicting principles provided.

At the tail end of the interview, the interviewers will tend to ask you to summarise your answers and come to a certain conclusion. While often there is no “right answer”, choosing one answer over the other with careful consideration to the reasons, advantages and disadvantages of concluding in such a manner tends to reflect a mature thought process.

Oxford Law Interview Top Tip 2: Don’t Mess Up the Ice-Breaker Questions

The early portion of the interview involves mostly personal questions. While this make not “make” your interview, it can definitely “break” it.

Do take time to re-read and be aware of what is in your personal statement. The interviewers would have read it beforehand and will use it as a springboard for the first few questions in the interview. If you have cited a book or a legal theory, chances are that the interviewer knows what it entails. There have been cases where the interviewer have even written those books or come up with that theory, so do refresh your understanding about what you’ve cited.

Other things that may come up in this section of the interview include your motivations for applying to Oxford law. This is possibly the easiest part of the interview to prepare for so there’s no excuse to mess up on this portion.

Oxford Law Interview Top Tip 3: Body Language

Its not just what you say in the interview, body language matters as well. Sit upright and be attentive. If you know that you are prone to fidgeting avoid this by clasping your hands together and be conscious of your movements.

Many students can mistake this as being a less important part of the interview or neglect this altogether. However, this is easily within your control and is something that you are able to do in order to improve your interview even in the slightest way, so there is no excuse not bothering in this respect.

Oxford Law Interview Top Tip 4: Don’t Panic

If you get stuck, don’t panic. This means that you are coping well in the interview and the interviewers are posing you more and more difficult questions.

The style and nature of the Oxford interview means that if you are able to handle the level of difficulty in the last question posed to you, the interviewers will inevitably give you a more difficult question. As such, it is inevitable that if you are performing at a certain level in the interview you will find yourself stuck at some point with increasingly difficult questions.

Even if you may not get all of these subsequent questions correct, it is important to stay calm and still give you best attempt at answering them

Oxford Law Interview Top Tip 5: Don’t Be Afraid to Be Wrong

Often, the interviewers will challenge the points and views that you present concerning your case. These can and very often, if and when you are receptive to alternative views and opinions, cause you to question the previous points that you have made in the interview.

Students that insist on their initial view being correct in the interview tend to reflect to the examiners a certain level of stubbornness. Particularly, it tends to be important to the interviewers that students are receptive to different views and hence are teachable.

Unsurprisingly, it is the students capable of being initially wrong that the tutors will tend to favour when picking which students should be admitted to that college.


To all those taking interviews this week, all the best and enjoy the experience!


Published: 05/12/17     Author: Samantha Phey

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