Decoding the Interview Process for Independent Schools: A Comprehensive Guide for Parents

Female teacher talking to teenage student in the library

For many students who dream of being offered one of the most prestigious and competitive independent schools in the UK, the only barrier is the independent school interview. Many children will be well prepared for their 11 Plus exam, but how do you prepare for the unknown, little-discussed, discussed and daunting interview?

The private school interview process holds a lot of significance in the selection process, and the more you know what the schools are looking for, the better you can prepare your child for success. Here’s an extensive walkthrough to help your child navigate this crucial phase confidently.

Why do Independent Schools Conduct Interviews?

While test scores offer insight into a student’s academic ability, they don’t give private schools much insight into whether your child will be a good fit in the school community or the new cohort of children. Interviews provide schools a glimpse into each student’s character, critical thinking abilities, communication skills, and fit within the school community. They’re an opportunity for students to shine beyond paper.

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The Different Private School Interview Question Types

Of course, like with any conversation, there are different types of questions we may ask to get different information from the person we are speaking to. In the same way, there are different types of questions for the independent school interview.

General Questions

  • Purpose: To understand the student’s personality, interests, and general worldview.
  • Example: “Which historical figure do you admire the most and why?”
  • Tip from Geek School Tutoring: Foster a culture of curiosity at home. Engage your child in conversations about varied topics, from books to current events.

Scenario-Based Questions

  • Purpose: To gauge problem-solving skills, empathy, and ethical stances.
  • Example: “How would you handle a situation where your friend wanted to cheat off your test?”
  • Tip from Geek School Tutoring: Role-playing can be an effective tool. Present hypothetical scenarios to your child and discuss potential responses.

Academic Questions

  • Purpose: To delve deeper into the student’s scholastic interests, critical thinking, and grasp of subjects.
  • Example: “Explain a concept you recently learned that you find fascinating.”
  • Tip from Geek School Tutoring: Encourage your child to reflect on their learning, making connections between their studies and real-world applications.

2. Group Activities – An Opportunity For Your Child to Collaborate With Others

  • Description: Several independent schools include group-based tasks or discussions. These aren’t just about knowledge but also about collaboration, leadership, and listening skills.
  • Example: Students might be given a topic to discuss or a problem to solve as a team.

Insight from Geek School Tutoring:

  • Being an active participant in group activities at school or in extracurricular settings can significantly boost your child’s collaborative skills. It’s as much about listening as it is about leading.

3. Preparation – The Key to Confidence

  • Mock Interviews: These can demystify the process, making students comfortable with the interview setting. Geek School Tutoring offers mock interview sessions tailored to mimic the environment of top independent schools.
  • Stay Updated: While students don’t need to be news experts, a basic understanding of major current events can be beneficial, especially if it’s a topic they’re passionate about.
  • Mindset Matters: Reinforce the idea that interviews are two-way streets. They’re not just for the school to assess the student but also for the student to get a feel of the school’s environment.

Navigating the interview process of independent schools can seem daunting. However, with proper preparation, understanding, and mindset, it can be a rewarding experience, offering students an opportunity to truly showcase their potential. Geek School Tutoring is committed to guiding students through every step, ensuring they approach interviews with confidence and poise.

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