What to wear to an Oxbridge interview?

Everyone knows that first impressions count, and your Oxbridge interview will be no different. Students and staff are proud of their colleges, and they want to see that you are putting in some real effort and presenting yourself well.


After all, these are places where final examinations are carried out in ‘sub fusc’ – a formal suit including bow tie, academic gown and mortar board. Students wearing the wrong kind of shoe, or tights in the wrong colour, are forbidden entry to the examination halls. Therefore, it’s worth taking the effort to get it right on interview day.




The key thing to remember is: think smart and mature. Shave on the morning (a fresh haircut isn’t going to hurt either). A full suit and tie is not going to be necessary – interviewers don’t expect all school students to own such clothing – but any of the following would be a good option:


–                        a collared shirt

–                        a nice, smart jumper

–                        a suit-style jacket or blazer

–                        smart trousers or chinos

–                        proper shoes

–                        tie


Anything, really, as long as you avoid:


–                        jeans

–                        casual clothing

–                        T-shirts/polo shirts

–                        sports wear

–                        shorts

–                        hats/caps

–                        hoodies

–                        trainers/casual boots/sandals




A similar approach applies to women’s clothing for interview. Ultimately, you want to come across as smart and mature. Trousers, dresses, and skirts are OK. So are smart jumpers, shirts, cardigans and the like. Avoid jeans, hoodies and scruffy clothing. Huge heels wouldn’t be appropriate either – think sensible, smart shoes.



These tips are given as a rough guide. Some interviewees will have a particular style of their own which they will be keen to express at interview, and that will be that individual’s choice. It’s likely that there will be students out there who had a successful interview while wearing something more casual or ‘out there’ – we just haven’t heard of them. The important thing to remember is that you want to convey the sense that you take the application process very seriously; that you are going to approach your studies with a mature and committed attitude; that you will be somebody with whom your tutor will enjoy spending time for the next three or four years; and that you will be a good ambassador for your college. By the same token, you want to avoid coming across as someone who has a casual approach to the university and to the application process; nor do you want to be viewed as somebody who is keen to ‘buck the trend’. This is unlikely to impress your interviewer. The colleges have been around for hundreds of years – show them respect!



Thoughts? Were you a successful applicant whose risky ‘full West Ham kit’ approach paid off? Let us know in the comments section.


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