How to impress at school interviews

With an ever-increasing number of pupils going for the same coveted place in top schools, teachers and heads are relying more and more on the interview stage of the 11+ and 13+ entrance processes.

Give your child the best chance of impressing at interview by following these tips.


Man interviewing boyDo your research

It's crucial that your child can provide tangible reasons why the school they are interviewing for is top of their list.

The school's prestige is not – and should not be - reason enough; make sure you and your child have looked at the website and ideally visited the school itself and spoken to students and teachers, to give your child an understanding of the school's ethos and find characteristics they can relate to. For instance, does the school have a thriving swimming team that will nurture your child's love of the sport?

Mind your body language

As with all interviews, first impressions count, so a firm, confident handshake and a warm smile is key.

During the interview, your child should be making good eye contact, and must try to keep in mind the usual body language dos, such as not crossing arms in front of the body, not fidgeting, and mirroring the interviewer's body language.

It's a good idea to do some mock interviews with your child – even possibly filming them so that your child can see how they are coming across.

Sell yourself

Children can be surprisingly coy when it comes to talking about their achievements. Make sure they know it is not boastful to talk about what they are good at in an interview.

They should also be careful not to sell themselves short, so help to build up your child's confidence and pride in what they have accomplished.

It's a good idea to make a list together of their accolades and achievements and then pick two or three to build on. For example, if they wrote a story that got published at school, then you could encourage them to think about why they like writing or books they enjoy reading so they can continue the conversation if need be at interview.

Choose your 'Mastermind' topic

Help your child pick one topic they will be able to talk about in more detail. This can be anything from a favourite holiday to Henry VIII.

Sometimes children are asked to bring an object into the interview to talk about. What's important is to choose an item or a subject which generates real enthusiasm in your child and can spark a lively discussion.

Quell those nerves

Your child will understandably be nervous about their interview, so do all you can to make them feel relaxed. Remind them the interview is not an exam, it's simply a way for the teachers to get to know them better.

Try to get your child used to speaking to adults as much as possible, and teach them breathing techniques to help them relax.

Practice makes perfect

As with all things, practice makes perfect, so do all you can to ensure your child has prepared as much as possible.

It's often better if someone other than a parent conducts mock interviews, so enlist the help of a family friend or teacher, or hire a tutor specialising in interview preparation for a couple of one-to-one sessions.

Some typical interview questions

  • Why do you want to come to this school?
  • How do you think this school will help you reach your potential?
  • What are your hobbies and interests?
  • What book are you reading at the moment? What do you like about it?
  • What other schools have you applied to?
  • What would you change about yourself?
  • What do you do to help your parents?

Read more interview questions here.

The content on this page is supplied by Enjoy Education, an award-winning tutoring consultancy


Last updated: over 2 years ago