Children’s interview preparation is key for pre-prep, prep school, 11 plus and independent and grammar schools.
Preparing for any type of interview is daunting for an adult so imagine what it must be like for a child. The pressures are real and without a gentle nudge in the right direction a child could lose out on getting the place they want in a school.
To help make the process a little easier for your child here is an article that will help both you and your child prepare and be ready.
Firstly, let’s be clear about what an interview is and its purpose for the school.
A school interview is a conversation in which you and a school exchange information. … Your goal is to present yourself as the best candidate for the school and also to learn more about the school to determine whether you are well suited for the school as well as the school is right for you.
So, how can you prepare your child for an interview?
It is difficult to prepare without knowing the questions you will be asked but what is important to remember is that the school wants to find out as much as possible about you and that you can also ask them questions as well. Remember, it is a conversation and not a presentation. Here are some questions to get you started. They may be asked using these words or slightly different:
- Tell me a little bit about yourself and your family.
- Tell me about your hobbies and interests and why you do them and like them
- What 3 things do you like about yourself & 3 you would like to improve including why?
- What is your favourite subject at school and why?
- How would your friends describe you?
- Tell me about one of your best achievements and why?
- What book are you reading at the moment? Tell me about it and describe what you are learning from it..
- Tell me about what you have read about or seen in the news and describe your thoughts and views on.
- What would you do if you saw something happening at school that was wrong like bullying or cheating?
- Why do you want to come to this school?
What Kind of Questions Can you Ask?
You do not have to ask a question but it is good to ask at least one. Here are some suggestions:
- What sports or musical activities does the school have
- What extracurricular activities does the school get involved in
- Hopefully, you will have looked at the school website or brochure and will see things there that you want to ask more about
The art of conversation is through storytelling and being able to engage who is listening to you by saying things in an interesting way. This can be through your body language as well as your voice control.
When you walk into the room do shake the hands of the interviewer/s or if not possible then make sure you say “Thank you for seeing me today”
Do sit up straight in your chair and if needed move the chair so you are not too close to the table and not too far away.
Do use your hands to express yourself.
Do smile as you answer the questions and make eye contact
Do not cross your hands in front of your body
Do not have anything in your hands like a pen as you may find yourself fidgeting with it which can be annoying and will distract from what you are saying.
Voice Control & Responses
Do listen to the question being asked and respond clearly and with confidence. Always pause after a question is asked to give yourself time to ensure you have understood the question and time to get your thoughts ready to respond.
Do not mumble and whisper your answers as you will be marked down if you cannot be understood.
Don’t speak too quickly or slowly,
If you are unsure about the question being asked then Do not just make up an answer. Ask them to repeat the question or you can say “can I just confirm this is what you are asking me?”
Avoid short answers like Yes and No. Answer the question being asked as well as why you have given that answer or what it means to you
When responding Do pause, Do use a range of words and Do use emotion
Being nervous is natural so it is important that you find a way to balance your nerves without looking like you are too relaxed.
A very important reminder through all of this is Do Breathe
Children’s interview preparation – Interview Dress Code
Boys – Do dress to impress but make sure that you are comfortable. Trousers, shirts, jumper and smart shoes.
Girls – Do dress to impress but make sure that you are comfortable. Trousers or a skirt, top, a jumper with smart shoes but not too high heels. Jewellery to a minimum and make up is not required.
Final Thoughts on Children’s interview preparation
It should not feel like your child is being forced to go to the school as that will be felt in the way your child responds to questions so ensure your child understands why the school is the one you think is good for them.
Your child is already under pressure with the academic syllabus so try and make this as less pressure as possible. Maybe go through the questions with them and give the answers you would give allowing your child to see how you sit up, how you show emotion and how you start and finish sentences.
It is important to practice going through the questions but remember at the interview they must be conversational and not a presentation. It’s the conversation ability the school will be interested in and they will want to get to know your child for who they really are.
To support your child in developing their communicating with confidence skills to help them with exams and interviews I have 2 online courses that they can do at home, at a pace that works for them with no pressure or competition. Your child can repeat sections as often as they need.
For your children who are aged 4+ through to age 7
For your children who are aged 8+ through to 16