Undergraduate Admissions, Evaluation 4: the interview
The interview is the fourth evaluation of the admissions procedure and results in a fourth and final mark out of 20. This mark is added to the three other marks awarded for the three stages of the application phase. Only candidates who have obtained a mark equal to or higher than the minimum mark set by Sciences Po for applications (mark /60) will be invited to interview.
In favouring discussion and dialogue, the interview allows for a real time assessment of the candidate’s motivations and intellectual ambitions for Sciences Po, ability to engage in discussion, and reaction when faced with contradiction and critique. It is designed to ensure that the applicant has the potential to succeed in a programme of study at Sciences Po. The interview also provides an opportunity to check the candidate’s speaking and presentation skills at the end of their time at secondary school.
Interviews are conducted remotely for all French and international applicants, using a specialised digital platform.
- Interviews are conducted in French for all candidates who have applied through the Parcousup admissions platform, regardless of their selected programme. However, if the candidate is looking to enrol in one or more of the programmes taught in English at the Undergraduate College, the interview panel may ask some questions in English in order to assess the candidate’s linguistic level.
- Candidates from international secondary school systems can choose for their interview to be conducted in French or English, depending on the language of the programme(s) they wish to enrol in at Sciences Po.
Please note: failure to attend your interview will result in the rejection of your application.
Procedure for remote interviews
Preparation for the interview
Each candidate will receive by email:
- his or her invitation to the online interview with the link to access the videoconference);
- the date and time of his or her admission interview;
- the technical user guide for the remote interview "Preparing for my Sciences Po admission interview".
At the beginning of the interview, candidates will be asked to show their ID in front of the camera to verify their identity.
Each candidate is responsible for the proper use of his/her equipment and must respect the technical protocol recommended by Sciences Po. The computer must be equipped with sound and a camera and may be either a computer, a digital tablet or a smartphone.
Candidates must respect the schedule indicated on their convocation. Upon connection, the candidate will be placed in the virtual waiting room and will wait for the members of the committee to establish the connection.
The interview lasts 30 minutes and involves three stages.
Stage 1: Candidate presentation
Length: 5 minutes.
In this introductory part of the interview, candidates are asked to present their background and experience, profiles as applicants and ambitions for Sciences Po. They will have a maximum of two minutes to complete the exercise and outline their motivations, interests and attributes. Candidates may therefore wish to prepare their introductory presentations in advance of the interview. This stage is the candidate’s chance to meet Sciences Po in person and he or she will steer the interview in these first five minutes.
Stage 2: Image analysis and commentary
Length: 10-15 minutes
This part of the interview consists of an analytical commentary on an image.
Candidates will be given a choice of two images prepared by academic staff at Sciences Po. They will be asked to study the two images and select one for commentary. The candidate will need to explain his or her choice and then describe the chosen image objectively, contextualise it, interpret the content of the image, analyse it critically and attempt to tell the story behind it.
The exercise draws on all kinds of still images, both from the past and in relation to current affairs. All images have the potential to inspire thoughts and ideas. They include paintings, drawings, photographs, front pages of newspapers, urban graffiti, extracts from comic strips, caricatures, and so on.
This exercise is designed to encourage candidates to think analytically and put their knowledge to use. No prior knowledge of the image is required: candidates are invited to make their own interpretations and will be asked to formulate arguments and demonstrate their critical mindedness. The candidate should not think that the interview panel is looking for any particular response. There is no “right” answer and the interview is about establishing an open discussion around possible interpretations.
Why image analysis? Visual messages have their own language and always serve a purpose: to communicate, convince, persuade, critique. The sensitive nature of images means they instantly open up discussions, which are enriched by the multiple interpretations that each image invites.
Stage 3: Candidate’s background, motivations, intellectual ambitions for Sciences Po
Length: 5-10 minutes
This section of the interview is about deepening our understanding of the candidate’s motivations for applying and intellectual ambitions for study on one of Sciences Po’s programmes. It also allows us to assess whether the candidate will be a good fit for the institution’s criteria and his or her potential to succeed at Sciences Po.
This stage takes the form of an open discussion and allows examiners to gain a fuller picture of the candidate and his or her motivations.
Candidates will be asked to outline their interest in Sciences Po’s programmes and their study plans. The panel will ensure that the candidate’s profile is suited to the programme he or she has applied to.
How is the interview evaluated?
The interview panel consists of two examiners, including secondary school teachers and/or members of the academic staff at Sciences Po. Both examiners have a thorough knowledge of Sciences Po’s demands. They award the student a mark out of 20.
In order to guarantee that their evaluation is neutral, the interview examiners are not given access to the candidate’s application, nor to the marks awarded for the previous evaluations of the admissions procedure.
How can I prepare for the interview?
Candidates should be prepared to talk about themselves, their background and their ambitions.
We would encourage you to practice speaking in public with a strict limit.
You can also practice by discussing a variety subjects and images, either that you know well or that you are unfamiliar with, ensuring that you express yourself clearly and honestly and craft well thought-out arguments.