If your child has been successful in the 11+ entrance exam, they will be invited to interview. 

The interview process is designed to discover more about your child and what really interests them. Interviewers want the children to succeed, but also want to ensure that your child is the best fit for their school and vice versa. The best interviews are lively conversations where the interviewer is intrigued by your child’s opinions and where your child offers them without hesitation.

If you have just read the above paragraph and thought, “He/She’ll never be offered a place!” then please read on!

The key thing to remember is that schools are looking for children they can can teach, rather than children with an encyclopaedic knowledge of the world. If your child does not know the answer to a question, they should be honest and say they don’t know and the interviewer will just move on to the next question. Even a very shy child will come out of his or her shell if they are asked about their family, pets, hobbies and interests.

Some schools provide a questionnaire about hobbies and interests for the child to complete before the interview, which provides a talking point, and also lets the parent feel they have done as much as they can.

INTERVIEW PREPARATION

Your child will probably be asked why they want to attend this particular school, what they liked on the open day, etc. For this type of question, make sure your child is prepared and has looked at the website and picked out some of the clubs or activities that interest them is always helpful.

Some children may like to make a mind map or list of their likes, dislikes and hobbies to look at before the interview. However, it is important for your child to come across as being prepared for interview and not over-rehearsed: teachers can spot this a mile off!

THE INTERVIEW ITSELF

Many schools show a picture as a starting point for discussion, e.g.

  • Can you describe the picture?
  • Do you like it and why?
  • How are the people in the picture feeling?

There are no right or wrong answers to these types of questions. They are just looking for a child who can express their feelings and speak, clearly, intelligently and coherently.

It is not unusual for a child to be asked to read a short passage for discussion, or to be given a maths problem to solve. Again, schools are looking for how a child approaches a problem and what their thought processes are. Giving a wrong answer does not necessarily mean a poor interview.

Remind your child to make eye contact, smile and give a firm handshake at the beginning and at the end of the interview. Your child can practise this with you!

PRACTICE INTERVIEWS

Some prep schools offer mock interviews but if your school does not, don’t worry. Having one of your adult friends or work colleagues come round and do an interview is a good way of preparing your child.