Congratulations! If your child has been called in for an interview, following an 11 Plus exam at an independent school, they’ve done well enough to get through to the next stage. Of, course, this doesn’t guarantee an offer for a place at school, but your child is one step closer to an offer, which is excellent news!
If you want to take the worry out of getting this all-important preparation for the independent school interview right, you probably want an expert to walk your child through all the things they need to know. That’s where our Independent School Interview Course comes in handy.
Preparation for the 11 Plus Independent School Interview
Schools will be looking for bright, articulate, confident and well-mannered children who can fit in with the school and give back to the school as well. Every school knows the type of student they are looking for, so it’s very important that your child doesn’t pretend to be someone he isn’t.
Pretending to love Greek mythology and then not knowing anything about Kind Oedipus, or Hades will ring alarm bells and will make it obvious that your child has been primed for the interview – very dangerous territory. So, the biggest tip of all is: be natural!
What to Practise 11 Plus Interview Questions
Some children ooze confidence and are not flustered about the thought of being interviewed. If your child is like this then you’re halfway there, but there are still some things to remind your child of:
1. Give a confident handshake when one is offered.
2. Look the interviewer in the eye when being spoken to, and when replying to questions. Not doing so will appear rude, or coy – neither of which are effective, especially hen trying to give a good impression.
3. Ummm….no! Try to take a pause and think quietly without saying ‘ummm’ every other word. It looks a lot more polished.
4. Ask questions! Just like adults going for job interviews, if you’ve made the effort to attend, you’ll naturally have a question or two about the job and the place of work. Your child should go into the interview with a few questions prepared that are specific to the school. Carry a small notebook and ask away! No more than three questions, however, as this is a very busy day for interviewers. Time to go on the school website and have a look through the activities and clubs etc, and think about anything you’d like to ask.
5. Watching the news – BBC News, CNN, reading the newspaper (the free Metro paper or the broadsheet newspaper websites for the Guardian, The Times etc will do!). It’s quite common to be asked about current affairs (see interview question below), so watching and reading the news will help.
6. If asked a question that your child has been practising at home, she should take a paus so it looks like she is thinking about a response and doesn’t make it obvious that it’s been practised at home.
7. Have a conversation about what to tell the interviewer when asked about the schools that she has applied for. If your child is doing eight school exams, it’s probably not a good idea to state this – you want to give the impression that there is only one school of interest. It’s acceptable to mention two or three other schools, but reeling off seven others might not give the best impression.
8. Sit still – but not like someone in a straight jacket! This just means avoiding fiddling, slouching or tapping feet etc.
9. Tell your child not to worry if the interviewer has a different opinion about a topic to theirs, they may enjoy hearing your child’s viewpoint – and it’s could also be an interview tactic.
Don’t Sound Like a Robot During the 11 Plus Interview
Please don’t encourage your child to memorise answers to interview questions! This is not another test – the interviewers want to get to know the ‘real’ child, it will be very clear that an adult has rehearsed answers with them.
Fifty 11 plus Interview Questions to Practise for independent Schools
Here are some interview questions to practise:
1. What is your favourite subject at school – and why?
2. What is your least favourite subject and why?
3. Why do you want to come to our school?
4. What sport do you play?
5. What is your favourite sport?
6. What extra-curricular activities do you do?
7. Do you play any musical instruments?
8. Have you performed in any plays?
9. If you had unlimited money, what would you do with it and why?
10. Who is your favourite author?
For the complete set of 50 independent school interview questions, plus in-depth video tutorials for your child, check out our Independent School Interview Course. You can be assured that your child will get the variety of interview questions that are likely to come up, along with even more guidance on what they can expect at the interview, what to avoid at the interview and more!
Interactive activities during interviews
The 11 plus interview may not be purely question-based, so there are some other things to bear in mind:
1. It’s not uncommon for your child to be shown a group of pictures and asked which one he likes and why. The pictures can range from pictures of celebrities and animals to more thought-provoking pictures e.g. war, destruction of the rainforest and a road sign.
2. Another common activity is to think about as many things as possible that could be done with an object like a pen (or any other object, e.g. paperclip, basket or candle) other than using it as a pen.
3. Your child could be given a poem or piece of writing to discuss it with the interviewer.
4. There may also be a mental arithmetic question for children doing an academic scholarship, so keep the maths practise going!