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How to Prepare Your Child for Independent School Interviews: Tips for 11+, 13+ & Scholarship Interviews

No matter what age your child is interviewing, the process can be stressful and the lead-up to the big day is usually quite daunting. However, it needn’t be!

Kings College Cambridge
Kings College Cambridge

If your child has been invited to an interview at one of their preferred independent schools, you may be wondering how to help them prepare. In this article, we will share some useful tips on what to expect, how to boost your child's confidence, and how to make a good impression on the interviewers. Independent school interviews are not only a way to assess your child's academic abilities, but also their personality, interests, and potential. Therefore, it is important to show that your child is well-rounded, curious, and enthusiastic about learning. By following these tips, you can help your child ace their independent school interview and secure a place at their dream school.

Teacher and student meet for an interview and are handshaking
First impressions matter

Prepare your child for independent school interviews: How can your child stick in the interviewer's memory?

Presentation and initial meeting at the interview

  • Practice breathing deeply if your child has a tendency to be nervous.

  • Arrive for the interview in plenty of time, as rushing in at the last minute or even late will lead to a nervous start to the interview. Allow them time to compose themselves, but not so much time that they have time to become nervous.

  • Make sure that they appear smart, smile, be confident, maintain good eye contact and use a warm greeting such as “Good Morning Mr. Smith.”

  • Practice a firm handshake.

Body language, personality and the art of conversation

  • Practice sitting on a sofa or on a chair looking engaged and interested with good posture, but relaxed.

  • Smile often and maintain eye contact with the interviewer.

  • Show a bit of personality in the way they answer questions. They need to demonstrate that they are easy to get along with, enthusiastic without being ‘cheesy’ and keen to get fully involved.

  • Try to practice the art of conversation. Question responses which give one sentence answers will appear ‘rehearsed’ and will not give as good an impression as an interactive dialogue which results from a question.

  • Why would they like to come to THIS senior school?

  • Look through the prospectus and website together with your child and write down the things that appeal about the school:

    • What are the particular strengths and how do these match the talents or interests of your child?

    • Have they heard about its reputation for a certain subject or extra-curricular opportunity from relatives, or friends?

    • Did a family member attend and why is it important to follow in their footsteps? Is there a sibling at the school?

    • Do the setting, historical features or facilities appeal?

    • Is it a single-sex/boarding/religious affiliation school and why do they think that this appeals to them in terms of their education?

What can YOU offer to the school?

Girl playing violin
What sport, music or drama do you enjoy?
  • If they are being interviewed by a housemaster/mistress it is important to research what subject they teach, what sports teams they coach or what their interests/contribution to the extra-curricular programme is. Any common ground of interest will make an engaging conversation easier.

  • What academic subjects do they enjoy most?

  • What are they currently learning in one or two of these and why does this interest them?

  • Are they involved in sport, music, drama, art, design and technology etc. and what have they achieved in these?

  • What would they like to achieve in the future and what new things would they like to try?

  • Do their family have strengths, achievements, and contributions to make to the school community?

Current affairs

A pile of newspapers
Prepare for your interview by understanding the news
  • Make sure they are aware of the top stories of what is happening in the news at the current time. (UK, Europe and Worldwide). Form an opinion and why have they formed it?

  • Do they read a paper?

  • Do they listen to the news or watch the news on TV?

Be prepared

  • Sometimes they will be asked to read a passage during an interview, discuss a painting on the wall, and talk about exercise books they have taken with them or a portfolio.

  • Practice all of these in advance so they are prepared. Having to think on their feet can make nerves come into play, so rehearse these situations in advance.

  • Practice forming and expressing an opinion about things. Do they like this, that or the other and why?

Boy researching at his laptop
Research questions the school

Do you have any questions?

  • While they are looking through the prospectus and website, start to make a list of questions about the school and learn these for use in the interview.

School Interview Departure

  • Smile.

  • Eye contact.

  • Firm handshake.

  • Polite ‘thank you for the opportunity to come to the school and meet you’.

  • Leave a lasting impression.

How can our academic consultants help prepare your child for independent school interviews?

TIEC Founder Catherine Stoker
Here to help

We have friendly academic consultants who can work with your child to build their confidence, soft skills and communication skills. We can prepare your child for an independent school interview by working with leading educational 'insiders' in a mock interview environment. This can target specific nerves like the unknown of answering questions from someone they don’t know and how to think quickly and effectively on their feet.

Contact our academic consultants to learn more about our preparation sessions and mock interview service.

Book a free 30 min call button

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