Some parents wonder if children need to prepare for admissions interviews: shouldn’t it be natural and spontaneous? As your child needs to present the best version of themselves at interview, it is definitely an advantage to be familiar with the type of questions they may be asked and the activities they may be asked to perform.
Since September 2008, state schools have not been allowed to interview children as part of their selection process, so now only private schools interview. They use it as an opportunity to decide if your child will complement the culture of the school and the group of children the school is bringing together in the new year group; they will want a good mix for their classes: the perfect balance of movers, shakers and quieter children.
Spending time on dedicated interview preparation provides children with the space to think and consider the answers to some basic questions about themselves, their likes, dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. Interview practice also allows an opportunity to rehearse eye contact, maintaining a smile, and positive body language, all of which can be difficult for some children. For nervous children, supportive interview preparation is particularly important, to familiarise them with what it will be like and what will be expected.
Schools frequently change their interview styles and typical questions can be difficult to predict, but try asking your child to consider their answers to some of the following sample questions:
1. Why have you chosen this school?
2. What are your hobbies?
3. Tell me about the area in which you live. What would you change about your current school?
4. How do you feel you would contribute to the life of this school?
5. What has been a magical moment in your life?
6. Describe yourself in a sentence. Is it ever OK to lie?
7. If you could fix one problem in London, what would it be?
The first two questions here are always the most important to prepare. The first question reveals whether a child has found out about the school and their personal response to it. The second question allows the child to show what they can bring to the school environment with skills in areas such as sports, music, drama, or to discuss unusual hobbies that show their individuality, such as collecting geological stones or reading myths and legends from the Ancient Greek period.
Schools are looking to see if your child can articulate their opinions and draw intelligent conclusions. It’s also important that they can celebrate their strengths without seeming self-absorbed and put a positive spin on their weaknesses. Impatience, for example, can be interpreted as a weakness, but also as a desire to complete things quickly! Would you apply for a job without preparing for the interview? Every child is different, and their preparation needs will be too, but it’s certainly best not to take any chances at the final stage of the admissions process.
For 11+ or CE exam support and interview preparation please call: 020 3488 0754