Interviews for selective independent schools

(13 Posts)
Mandzi34 Tue 02-Feb-16 16:52:33

Hi all,

I just wondered how much the selective schools rely on the interviews when deciding whether or not to offer a place. For example City of London rank the papers and the top 200 get interviews. Does this mean that if you are 198-200 although you'd get an interview your chance of a place would be slim? Do you think that the decision may have already been made in some ways based on exam performance? Unless of course someone higher in ranking didn't do as well at interview as expected and so the places would alter slightly.

bojorojo Tue 02-Feb-16 20:27:33

My view is, and I cannot substantiate this, that it would matter if you were 19 or 198. The trouble is, do you know if you are 198? I suppose having a slightly less lofty school as a back up is the answer.

Mandzi34 Tue 02-Feb-16 20:36:39

Very true bojorojo. I guess it just goes to show that getting an interview doesn't always mean a lot in the grand scheme of things.

Lurkedforever1 Tue 02-Feb-16 22:43:34

From what I could gather it's used in part to see how accurate the exam results are. Eg did your highly able dc just have a bad day, or did your below pass dc have a one off great day and ridiculous levels of coaching? Plus to guage personality.

alejandro Tue 02-Feb-16 23:07:01

I've always assumed that despite the hype surrounding them (chatter about some special spark factor and so on), interviews are really nothing more than a sanity check for the school. Barring a complete disaster or obvious behavioural issues, a top exam performer wouldn't lose an offer and conversely, a child right at the cut-off would need absolutely extraordinary circumstances to move up. Now obviously, you cannot know which is which beforehand, so you still have to treat the process seriously.

Happy to be disproved there, but given emphasis on grades and exam results, it wouldn't make much sense for the school to override the entrance exam order by a significant amount.

Gruach Wed 03-Feb-16 00:23:08

I've always assumed that the interview is used to assess character and personality - to ensure a good fit.

A school that puts as much emphasis on extracurricular stuff as on exam results might be disappointed if the child scoring 100% in the written exams turns out to be dull as ditchwater once they join - never auditioning for plays, or thinking up great ideas for the class magazine, or having anything interesting to say ... Whereas a child who scored a little lower may be revealed to have a really quirky way of thinking, unusual interests they can enthuse others with, huge potential as a debater or rare leadership skills. (Though I admit it might be difficult to discern some of these things in a very brief interview.)

A lively, sparky school that's fun to attend and to teach at really needs some variety in its intake. Interviews should help to ensure that. IMVHO. (And I'm basing my opinion on very recent (2nd hand obvs) experience of boys' school interviews, both prep and senior.

Gruach Wed 03-Feb-16 00:26:07

Briefly - it is a major factor in helping teachers decide who would be most fun to teach.

LentilStew Wed 03-Feb-16 00:37:25

At ds1's school the top performers were offered a place without interview. Then the next big bunch were all interviewed. From what I can gather, about 50% of those interviewed get a place. So the majority of applicants aren't even called for interview. Tbh, I think they see the interviews as very important as I imagine there's not much to distinguish, academically speaking, between 100 kids who all got within 20 marks of each other on any given day. They cream off the very high scores immediately then I'm sure they're looking at personality traits with the others. In a 'well he may have got 23 more than her but she had clearly never been exposed to VR/NVR in her life so is she more a natural?'

horsemadmom Wed 03-Feb-16 07:47:31

Interviews for City and its ilk are to weed out the over-tutored and find the DCs who can think on their feet. They don't want drones. A DC who scored 100% on the paper but crumbles when faced with mental maths or can't interperate a work of art or has no enthusiasm for what they are reading will drown in those schools and may need outside tutoring just to keep up.

AnotherNewt Wed 03-Feb-16 07:58:09

It varies between schools of course.

As does the number interviewed and when in the process.

For many (most? all?) boys schools and a lot of co-eds it comes after the exam. They are only interviewing those with a chance of a place, so it may be key if your DC is borderline (either scholarship/place, place-wait, or wait/no thanks).

Some schools interview all candidates before exam, sometimes in a group. This lets them add some notes about the candidate, should they wish to refer to extra material (sorting out borderlines being the likeliest reason). Lots of girls day schools do it this way round.

Some schools only register a certain number of candidates, so that each can have a more in depth interview and more weight can be attached to it. But exactly how the interplay between interview/reference/exam works would depend on the school. And how much it values achievements other than straight academics and ability to pass exams.

horsemadmom Wed 03-Feb-16 08:29:03

Answered OP specifically about City and its competitors.

Pythonesque Wed 03-Feb-16 09:14:46

I recall speaking to a friend whose son did several interviews a few years back. At least one of them they were specifically giving him a "second chance" on a poor maths paper to get a sense of what his ability really was. (not London schools btw)

fleurdelacourt Wed 03-Feb-16 09:39:49

OP- only wish I knew!

The only insight we had was for another London boys school where a friend teaches. She says that the 11+ interviews are conducted 'blind' - so the interviewer has no idea whether the candidate is a possible scholar or a possible waitlist or somewhere in between.

Unfortunately my friend isn't involved in the final decision process, so have no idea how far a strong interview performance would take a boy.

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