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What to Expect When Attending an Interview

By: Louise Tobias BA (hons) - Updated: 11 Jan 2016 | comments*Discuss
 
What To Expect When Attending An Interview

While some independent schools ask their pupils to take one or more entrance exams to test their academic ability, all of those schools usually ask pupils to come into the school for an interview. These usually occur in late January or early February. Sometimes parents are also interviewed, either in the same room as their child or -more usually - separately. This will usually be an opportunity for parents to ask questions about the school, or the school to find out more about their child. Interviews before pupils receive a place at a school are normal in both the primary and secondary sectors; this article will examine what pupils should anticipate being asked at interview, and how parents can help their children prepare for their interview.

What Kinds of Questions Will be Asked in my Child's Interview?

In schools which ask candidates to take their entrance exams, the children asked to come for interview will usually have already satisfied the schools's academic criteria, so a central purpose of the interview will be to find out whether a child has the right kind of character and ability to fit in to the school in question. Interviews will usually be carried out by an experienced teacher, or sometimes the headteacher, and they will be adept in making a nervous child feel at ease, or looking beyond the way in which nerves may be inhibiting performance.

Likewise, an admissions officer might also use an interview an opportunity for border-line candidates to boost their adequate academic performance to an excellent one - a candidate might have seemed weak in some areas of the examinations, but an interview can enable a school to find out whether that was due to nerves or a representation of true ability. As such, candidates should expect to be asked some academic questions; a question to test English vocabulary might for example ask a candidate to describe a given picture. Some schools ask candidates to read a passage aloud and then answer comprehension questions about its described scene. Mental arithmetic questions may also be asked.

An interview will usually also involve more general questions about how the prospective pupil might contribute to general life of school outside of academia. If a child has a particular ability for art, music, drama, sports, or debating, for example, or an unusual hobby, that might be discussed at interview.

Another series of popular questions will be based around the theme of how much a candidate would like to become a pupil at the school. This might be expressed in the form of, 'what is your favourite thing about this school' or 'what have you seen that you like best at the school'?. Though these questions are easy to rehearse for, such a technique will be obvious to an interviewer, so it's best that the child has actually seen the school, and attended the open day, and is therefore able to truthfully answer the question.

How can I help my child to prepare?

Coached interviewees will stand out quite obviously; answers learnt by rote will be self-evident to the experienced teachers and headteachers who conduct admissions interviews. Instead, encourage your child to think about the above questions by talking about issues such as why they enjoy a particular hobby, but carry out these discussions in an informal way, perhaps while driving somewhere or over a meal. It can also be a good idea to encourage your child to visit the school before the interview, to lessen on-the-day nerves.

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