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Undergraduate Admission Interview: Useful Tips

Each year, half of new students at the Sciences Po Undergraduate College come from outside France. All applicants - whether French or international - are evaluated in the same ways, on identical criteria, in four separate evaluations. Candidates who have obtained the required mark set by the jury in the first three evaluations will be admitted to the fourth and final one: the interview.

Here are some tips to help you prepare for the interview.

1/ Be yourself: it is an opportunity to stand out

The interview is a chance to show your personality, your motivation and your ability to engage in constructive discussion. The examiners do not have access to your application file, nor to the marks obtained in the previous evaluations. It is an opportunity to talk about yourself. No need to try to pass yourself off as someone you are not.

In order for the interview panel to get a feel for your personality, avoid formatting your answers. On the contrary, you should be ready to engage in conversation and argue your case, not to be interrogated.

2/ Prepare

The interview lasts 25 to 30 minutes and is conducted in three distinct sequences. Each sequence has a time limit: make sure to practise beforehand in order to stay within the time limits.

To start, you will have 2 minutes to introduce yourself, explaining your background, your profile and your project for Sciences Po. Prepare yourself carefully and practice in front of friends or family members: you are the master of this part of the test.

Next, you will have between 5 and 10 minutes to interpret and comment on an image that you will have chosen between two options. It can be a painting, a drawing, a photograph, the front page of a newspaper, etc. There is no expected answer: you have to defend your own interpretation.

Finally, 10 to 15 minutes will be dedicated to an open exchange with the examiners to discuss your motivation and your projects.

To be able to showcase your motivation, you should be able to show that you know Sciences Po: subscribe to our newsletter, and read up on the programmes we offer, our learning and teaching methods, the expected languages levels, and student life on the campus you are applying for.

The admissions panel also expects you to be well informed about what is going on in your country, your region, and in Europe. Keep up with current events and debates.

3/ Check your equipment in advance

This year, the interviews will take place exclusively online, as indicated to you bu our admissions department. Although it implies less costs and stress, there are still some important details to prepare.

Punctuality is essential, even for a remote interview. Log into the virtual meeting at least 10 minutes in advance.

Do not forget to bring your ID document, which you will show into the camera at the beginning of the interview.

Make sure your equipment is working properly: your video and sound quality as well as your internet connection. 

If you have applied to several programmes within Sciences Po, you may be invited to several interviews.

4/ Optimise your environment

Choose a quiet room where you can be alone and relaxed. Sit facing a light source: avoid windows behind you. Place the camera at eye level in front of you, raising your laptop if necessary. Preferably use a headset with a microphone, to avoid background noise.

Make yourself comfortable, stay calm and relaxed: the purpose of the interview is both to assess whether you suit our programmes and study environment and to see if Sciences Po is the right choice for your future plans and expectations.

5/ After the interview: be patient

The interview is not an eliminatory exam: your final admission is assessed based on the combined grade of the four evaluations of the admissions process. Successful candidates are selected for their ability to stand out in different and complementary fields. And above all, your feeling at the end of the interview is not always reliable: what you might have thought was a "mistake" was not necessarily seen as such by the examiners. Stay patient and wait for the results!

To arrive more relaxed on the day of your interview, it is also essential for you to have several other career and education options in mind. Some candidates are not admitted at the undergraduate level and then join Sciences Po in a Master's programme...

Good luck to everyone!

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Cover image caption: Library reading room (credits: Philippe Chancel)

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