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Portfolios and interviews

Week 14

11 December 2023

Just when you thought a personal statement was enough to deal with, you find out you may have to attend an interview or an audition… With any luck, you’ll be passionate about what you’re studying, so talking about the subject shouldn’t be too bad. But don't worry. We've got some interview and portfolio advice for you!

If you’ve ever had a job, you’ve probably had an interview. Almost every job requires you to have at least one interview, from dog walker to business consultant. And although they vary, the aim is very similar. Are you capable and/or willing to do what it takes to complete the job role? However, this is also an opportunity for you to figure out if the job/ business has the same aims as you.

University interviews are no different. Course leaders want to see if you have an interest in the subject and if you have the potential to complete the course. And on the flip side you get the opportunity to have your questions answered.

six Top tips for university interviews and auditions

1. Fail to prepare and prepare to fail

Do your research. Understand the course/university and what you can bring to the table,as well as what you can get from it. How is it relevant to your aspirations and interests?

2. Better three hours too soon, than one minute too late

… unfortunately, you're not a wizard. The importance of a good first impression is often forgotten. In an interview, if you’re late, you’ve automatically put yourself at a disadvantage. Aim to arrive with plenty of time to spare, and allow extra time for traffic. You can then use these extra minutes to relax and get ready for the interview.

3. Practice makes perfect

Have a go at a mock interview with a tutor or your careers advisers - they should be able to get you well prepared! Also, become familiar with your answers without having to learn them off by heart as you could come across as robotic. The interviewer is trying to gain an insight into your personality to make sure that you’re a good fit for their course.

4. PMA (positive mental attitude)

Go into the interview confident about yourself and your achievements. Tell yourself that you’re good enough and your body language will reflect that (it’s a lot easier to do this if you know your stuff). However, it’s not just about what you say, it's also about how you say it! Watch this TED talk about how important body language is.

5. Fix up, look sharp

Make sure you’ve dressed appropriately. The interviewer wants to see that you will do their university proud. This doesn’t mean you have to dress in traditional business attire; but make sure you’re comfortable, and that you look smart enough. If you're in any doubt you can always contact the university.

6. Be yourself

As cliché as it may sound, it’s probably the best advice you could get. Relax and bring the conversation to life with questions of your own. This will please the interviewer and make the process go smoothly, which is more likely to lead to the university offering you a place.

Potential interview questions

Most universities will help you prepare for your interview, by sending you the questions beforehand. But as we mentioned above, be prepared! We've listed some potential course interview questions below: 

  1. Tell me about yourself. 
  2. Tell me more about something from your personal statement. 
  3. What's a weakness of yours? 
  4. What do you do in your spare time? 
  5. What A-levels did you study and why? 
  6. Why do you want to study this course?
  7. What in particular interests you about this course?
  8. Why do you want to go to this university?


We've interviewed our BA (Hons) Acting and Performance and BA (Hons) Musical Theatre course leader and senior lecturer to find out what they're looking for from an applicant in an audition.


A good portfolio should demonstrate both your personality and your creative talent. The whole creative process is therefore important, showing the thought process from initial idea through to completion – even unfinished work says something and can be just as useful as a finished piece.

It’s essential that you tailor your portfolio to the course you’re applying for. The course tutors will have a limited amount of time to go through each portfolio, so make it interesting and relevant.

Student Art Guide has a very comprehensive guide on how to make an art portfolio for college or university. We suggest you scan over this and pick out the information that is most relevant to you.

Tasks for this week

  • Find out if your course requires an interview, audition and/or a portfolio.
  • Spend some time planning how you would respond to the interview questions.
  • Find someone (preferably a tutor/careers adviser) to give you a mock interview.
  • Take a look at the useful links and find the relevant information for your course.