skip to content

Interviews for the Cambridge Foundation Year

Admissions decisions at the University of Cambridge are based solely on academic criteria – your ability and potential. Along with all the other information you provide, interviews help us to assess your application.

2023 entry

Interviews for 2023 entry are now over. They were conducted online.

Further general guidance about preparing for interviews can be found on the University of Cambridge website. Please note that much of this information relates to specific courses or Colleges. In case of discrepancies, always prioritise information from the Foundation Year team about your Foundation Year interview. Technical guidance for applicants is available here.

Frequently Asked Questions

How many interviews will I have for the Foundation Year?

You will have two interviews which will last no more than 30 minutes each. 

What will happen at my interviews? Who will be interviewing me?

One of your interviews will involve looking in detail at a textual source which will be provided to you by email 30 minutes before your interview. If you are shortlisted, you will make a choice of this extract in advance of the interview. Full details of how to do this will be sent by email.

The other interview will focus on one of the other streams on the Foundation Year (material sources, languages or data). If you are shortlisted, you will make a choice of which you want to focus on which could be informed by your previous study or your subject of interest. Full details of how to do this will be sent by email. In this interview, you will not receive anything in advance, but will be shown material in the interview and asked to discuss it with the interviewers. 

Interviews will generally include two interviewers who are experienced in interviewing candidates for admission to Cambridge. In some cases, there may also be another person who is there to observe but will not speak other than to introduce themselves and will not be a formal part of any decision making.

When will I find out when my interviews are?

First of all, you will find out by email if you have been shortlisted at the end of February. You will be contacted using the email address that you supplied during your application. Please check your inbox (and spam folders) regularly and ideally add to your safe senders' list if your email provider allows this. Please read all correspondence carefully.

Once you respond to our initial invitation to interviews (detail of which will be in the email), you will be assigned two interview slots. You will get around two weeks' notice of this.

What should I do to prepare for the practicalities of my interviews?

There are several practical steps you can take to ensure your interview goes smoothly.

First of all, you can test your IT set up. is the chosen platform for 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 but we recommend a laptop or PC if you can access one. The video conferencing 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. See the University of Cambridge video (scroll down). Sometimes Bluetooth headsets do not work with Whereby, so you may be asked to use your device’s inbuilt microphone and speaker(s) if necessary.

You may also wish to check your interview location. If you choose to be interviewed from your school/college, 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.

You must not be accompanied, except in exceptional circumstances and the interview should not be recorded in any way.

How can I prepare for the content of my interview?

All shortlisted applicants will be invited to a webinar in March 2023. Register for this and join live or watch the recording for more information on how you can best prepare and what to expect in your interviews. 

What can I do on the day to do my best?

Try to relax. Make sure you are comfortable and prepared and have things you might need to hand such as a pen and paper.

Remember, 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.

What if my technology fails in the interview?

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. You will be given more detailed information in 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.