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Researching an institution

How can you research an institution and use it to your advantage within a university interview? This article provides information and top tips
Building on University of York campus
© University of York

One of the most popular questions within a university interview is “Why [name of institution]?”

Interview assessors want to know why you are interested in their particular institution and if you can’t answer, or give a very general, unfocused answer, this may ring alarm bells. The moral of this story? Research the institutions you are interviewing at thoroughly!

Some interviewers may ask you this as a ‘warm up’ question to get the conversation flowing, some may leave it to the end, nevertheless it will almost always be there somewhere! Often it also goes hand-in-hand with a question on why you would like to study the particular course you are there to interview for.

Make sure you have compared and contrasted the institution and course with other ones so that you can give a detailed answer as to why this particular institution is the one for you.

For example, if you are in an interview for a place on a child nursing course and you are asked “Why child nursing at [name of institution]?” don’t just answer with something very general like “because I want to work with children and you have great facilities”. Think about the specifics! If you want to work with children then why have you chosen Nursing specifically? Why not teaching? Or childcare? What exactly is it about the facilities at that institution? What makes them stand out?

There are so many different ways you can prepare to answer this question effectively:

  • What made them stand out to you in the first place? Think about why you made those initial decisions and look deeper from there.
  • Research yourself! What do you like doing? What do you not like doing? What values matter to you? Where do you want to be in five years time? How does this particular institution match those ideals?
  • Check out the institution’s website and social media to find out more.
  • Visit the institution prior to your interview if possible and make sure that you ask lots of questions from both staff and current students.
  • Compare and contrast with other institutions. What is special about the one you are interviewing at in particular? What makes them stand out? Why does this matter to you?

How about we give this a go now?

Think about an institution you have an interview for, or one you would like to get an interview at if you haven’t applied yet. In the discussion below let us know why that particular institution using the bullet points above to help you.

© University of York
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