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How to Prepare for School Interviews (& Get in!)

As experienced admission and education consultants, we’ve had the honour of steering countless families through the complex maze of school admissions. One of the most decisive stages in this journey is the school interview. In this article, we will share with you a comprehensive guide on how to prepare for and excel in these crucial interviews, transforming them from a source of anxiety into a stepping stone towards academic success.

Understanding School Interviews

A common practice in many educational institutions, from primary to secondary and even tertiary level, school interviews are a critical component of the admissions process. But what exactly are they?

School interviews are a critical component of the admissions process for many educational institutions. They are a tool that allows schools to gain a more holistic understanding of a prospective student, assessing not just their academic abilities, but also their personality, interests, interpersonal skills, and fit with the school’s community. They also provide an opportunity for the student to learn more about the school and demonstrate their interest in and commitment to the school.

Why Schools Interview

To gain a deeper understanding of the student.  Beyond what is presented in their application. While applications provide valuable information about a student’s academic performance and extracurricular activities, they may not fully capture a student’s personality, interests, or potential. An interview allows the school to assess these aspects more directly.

Evaluate a student’s interpersonal skills. A face-to-face meeting allows the school to assess the level of confidence with which a student carries themselves and evaluate their body language as they respond to questions. This can give the school a better sense of the student’s social skills and their ability to interact effectively with others.

Determine if the school is suitable. Interviews can serve more specific purposes depending on the nature of the school or program. For instance, many art, design, and performance schools hold interviews to review and discuss a student’s portfolio. Religious institutions may use the interview to discuss a candidate’s religious beliefs and the kind of commitment they can make to their community.

Opportunity for parents and students to learn more about the school. By asking questions and engaging in a dialogue with the interviewer, students can gain a better understanding of whether the school meets their unique needs and desires.

Assess student’s interest in and commitment to the school. By taking the time to prepare for and participate in an interview, students demonstrate that they are seriously considering the school as an option.

How to Prepare for School Interviews

While the prospect of a school interview can seem daunting, the key to navigating it successfully is preparation. Let’s delve into the steps you can take to prepare effectively.

  1. Understand the School’s Values and Culture: Every school has its unique ethos, culture, and values. Take the time to research the school’s mission, its approach to learning and the qualities it values in its students. Demonstrating an understanding of these aspects during your interview can help you align your responses with the school’s principles, which shows that you are suitable for their community.
  2. Review your Application: Your application is a goldmine of potential interview topics. Schools often use it as a starting point for their questions. Make sure you are familiar with every detail you included in your application – your hobbies, strengths, weaknesses, and achievements. Be prepared to elaborate on these during your interview.
  3. Practice Common Interview Questions: There are several common questions asked during school interviews. These can range from “Why do you want to attend this school?” to “What can you contribute to our school?” Practice answering these questions, but remember, your responses should sound natural and not rehearsed.
  4. Develop Your Communication Skills: Communication is not just about speaking; it is also about listening. Show that you can listen attentively, maintain eye contact, and respond appropriately. Speak clearly and confidently, and remember to be polite and respectful.
  5. Plan Your Journey: Nothing can fluster you on your big day like the stress of running late. Make sure you know the exact location of your interview and plan your journey ahead of time.

On the Day of the Interview

The day of the interview can be nerve-wracking, but here are some tips to help you navigate it with grace and confidence.

  1. Dress Appropriately: First impressions matter. Dressing neatly and appropriately for the interview shows respect for the occasion and the institution, but please do not bring your child to an interview wearing a suit and tie. Simple, clean, and comfortable should be your guiding principles.
  2. Be Punctual: Aim to arrive at least 15 minutes early. This gives you ample time to relax, familiarise yourself with the environment, and mentally prepare yourself.
  3. Be Yourself: Authenticity is key. Be genuine in your responses, and let your personality shine through. Remember, the school wants to get to know YOU.
  4. Ask Questions: Asking questions not only shows your interest in the school but also demonstrates your analytical and thinking skills. You could ask about the school’s teaching methods, extracurricular activities, or community service programs.

After the Interview

Your role isn’t finished once the interview is over. Here’s what we suggest parents should do afterwards:

Reflect on the Interview: After the interview, take a moment to reflect on your performance. Consider what went well and what areas you could improve. This reflection will help you learn from the experience and prepare for future interviews.

Conclusion

While the school interview is a significant step in the admissions process, remember that it’s not a one-way street. It’s not just about the school assessing your suitability—it’s also an opportunity for you to assess if the school is suitable for you.

Approach the interview with confidence and sincerity, and let your unique personality shine through. With thorough preparation and a positive mindset, you can transform any school interview from a daunting hurdle into a stepping stone towards your academic future.

Your journey to admission success starts here, and we are with you every step of the way. As we navigate this journey together, remember that each step, each stumble, and each success brings you closer to your academic goals.

If you’re looking for the best fit of schools around Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand or Canada – our educational consultant Jessica Yuen has over 9 years of experience in helping families find the right educational journeys for their children. You can shoot us a message here.

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