Interviews play a pivotal role in admissions processes the world over, as they offer schools a valuable opportunity to assess an applicant’s strengths, interests, maturity, and social skills. Unlike public schools, private schools routinely incorporate interviews into their admissions process, considering it a crucial factor that can distinguish between a successful admission and a rejection.
Private school interviews vary in their approach, with each school seeking different qualities in prospective students. While some interviewers may prefer certain personality traits or hobbies over others, the interview is often used to gauge a child’s genuine enthusiasm and potential for teachability. Schools employ various strategies during interviews, such as giving students tasks or topics to engage them in discussions about hobbies and interests. These approaches aim to reveal a candidate’s passion and individuality, moving beyond rehearsed responses to elicit spontaneous and authentic interactions.
Typical private school interview questions revolve around the candidate’s motivations for choosing the school, their current school experiences, favourite books, spare-time activities, preferred subjects, and even hypothetical scenarios like being Prime Minister for a day. The interviewer not only considers the answers but also observes how confidently and genuinely the candidate responds, placing importance on qualities like a firm handshake, eye contact, and a friendly demeanour.
In London prep schools, interviews often focus on academics, with some schools incorporating written exams as part of the selection process. However, even academically-oriented schools seek a balanced community and may use interviews to identify individual sparks beyond academic prowess. The requirement of written tests may also be determined by the class level being applied for, and is meant to demonstrate the candidate’s academic levels.
Despite concerns from parents, professional interview preparation is generally deemed unnecessary by interviewers and teachers. A child’s genuine self-expression is preferred over rehearsed responses, and interviewers can often discern when a child has been coached.