13 November:

Z buildingWe've been reading through the AAIF (Additional Applicant Information Form) info (thank you!). A few pointers on where to have your interviews:

We are happy for you to have your interviews at home or at school and advise you to pick the option that works best. We do not plan to interview at the weekend.

In most cases, we advise you to have your interview at home if you have

  • a laptop or computer at home with working webcam and microphone
  • a quiet space where you can have your interviews (remember that you need to be in a room on your own as well).
  • a reasonable internet connection

We advise you to use your school if you need their help e.g. for a quiet space, a computer or a better internet connection, or possibly if the timing of your interview makes it impossible to have at home. And yes, apologies to those of you not at school / at boarding school - we know there's not the same distinction for you.

If you have your interview at school

We have two important pieces of advice for students having an interview at school:

  • If you will be using Whereby, make sure that the school firewall allows use of Whereby (your invitation to interview email with the date(s), times and joining details will tell you what platform is being used and all the details). Whereby says: 'We require that outgoing traffic via TCP and UDP on port 443 is open'. Even if that makes no sense to you, please pass it on to your school's IT person (if doing interviews at home, don't worry - this won't be a problem. It's the settings that some schools have to block use of videoconferencing that cause issues).
  • it's a VERY GOOD IDEA to have a practice on the computer that you will use to ensure that everything is working well before your interview. The majority of problems in interviews are avoidable problems which happen in cases when people have not done a test on the computer that they will use in advance.

If you have your interview at home

We have two important pieces of advice for students having an interview at home

  • Make sure that the other people in your household know when you will be having your interviews so that they know not to disturb you.
  • It's a VERY GOOD IDEA to have a practice on the computer that you will use to ensure that everything is working well before your interview. The majority of problems in interviews are avoidable problems which happen in cases when people have not done a test on the computer that they will use in advance.

Making it work and prioritising

We will expect you to make your interview times work, just like you would normally prioritise a job interview over things in your day-to-day life. Do bear in mind that in order to have the interviews at home, you may need to take a day off school - we will not be able to organise all interviews so that they fit in the time when you would be at home anyway. Do liaise with your teachers about this and please do not leave it to the last minute - once you receive an invitation to interview and know the exact date and times of your interviews you should contact your school to let them know and discuss with them whether you will have the interviews at home or at school (there will be time to do this, and you will not need to tell us the answer). If you would like to have your interviews at school, please ensure that you give your school as much notice as you can (i.e. talk to them as soon as you receive your invitation to interview email with the dates, times and joining details. Give them plenty of notice so that they can make arrangements for you.

In response to some of the points often raised on the AAIF:

  • If the interview falls in school hours and you want to have it at home, you could ask your teachers about going in late, coming home early or staying home that day (as appropriate). Bear in mind that had interviews been in person you would have missed a day (or more in some cases) of school. Your interviews are no less important just because they are online, and the inconvenience is likely to be a lot less than having to travel to Cambridge, UK in most cases.
  • If the interview falls at the time when you would normally be travelling between school and home, can you arrange to not be travelling at that time that day? Or decide which out of school and home works best at the time you are scheduled?
  • If you do not have a computer / laptop with a working webcam and microphone at home, could you borrow one from somebody? NB. If you borrow a laptop, make sure that you have a practice on it in advance.
  • In some cases you will need to prioritise your interviews over other things and make different arrangements to how things normally work.

Please wait to receive your invitation to interview email (the one with the date(s), times and joining details) before making firm decisions, but we hope that these broad pointers/guidelines are helpful if you are invited for interview.

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