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Top 10 private school interview questions

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The admissions interview will likely be the final step in your child’s private school application process. Some private schools place a lot of weight on the interview, and if your child’s past grades and test scores are strong, it could be the deciding factor in whether or not they are accepted – that is why it’s highly recommended to practice interviews regularly with your child. Schools want to see how articulate the student is and if he/she can hold a conversation. So, encourage your child to ask thoughtful questions during the interview and not just regurgitate memorized answers.

Overall, schools are trying to identify if your child is a good fit, how motivated they are, and how likely they are to succeed. Here are some common private school interview questions:

1. What current events are you following closely?
Encourage your child to follow the news, particularly in education. If your child can contribute thoughtful comments on how foreign schools are outperforming American schools, or the importance of STEM classes, he/she will surely outshine other students. The more detailed the answer, the better.

2. What’s your favorite book?
Sometimes, interviewers ask this question to simply find out if your child reads for pleasure and not just for school. Therefore, your child should mention a few books that have been interesting to them and elaborate. Have them discuss the character development or themes, but more importantly, what this book means to them. Also, encourage them to discuss the author’s inspiration for writing the book and why it was relevant at the time it was published.

3. What are your hobbies?
Schools are looking for passion. They want to know if your child can start something and persevere long enough to master it. Let your child know not to discuss video games or TV shows, but instead, to discuss something educational like reading, leading a school committee/newspaper, science experiments, etc. These are more impressive answers to give, but don’t have your child feign these interests if they are not authentic. Other notable topics could be musical instruments, sports, building model planes, etc. Regardless of what they choose to talk about, your child must show passion in their answer.

4. What do you like about our school?
This is probably the most common question, and your child must be able to discuss specific classes, after-school programs, or sports teams he/she wishes to join. Consider this response as an example to guide your child: “Your school stands out from all the rest because here, I know I can develop my love for science. I am particularly interested in your great laboratory. Can you tell me more about how I can use this facility?”

5. What are your goals?
Schools want to hear about educational goals. However, it’s even better if your child can connect these goals back to that specific school. For example, your child could discuss how he/she want to join a competitive math team and how he/she is extremely impressed with the school’s current team.

6. What are your favorite and least favorite subjects?
Your child shouldn’t say something such as, “I don’t like math because I hate numbers.” Instead, they could say, “My strongest subject is English and my weakest subject is math, but I hope to improve in that area at your school. I know you have the right teachers to help me achieve this goal.”

7. Who are your role models?
This is a very open-ended question, but you can easily help your child hone in on public figures they may find remarkable. Your child can mention famous historical icons, teachers, or leading innovators, and discuss why these people inspire him/her.

8. Why are you a good fit for this school?
Here, your child clearly must rely on knowledge specific to this institution. For example, if the school has a flawless 100% of its students go to college, your child can discuss their goals of eventually getting into an Ivy League (or at least very prestigious) university.

9. Have you ever had a conflict with a teacher, coach, or another student?
Rather than simply saying “no,” it could better benefit your child to instead describe a subject where a teacher pushed him/her harder than others had. So, perhaps simply approach this question as ‘who is your most challenging teacher?’ Then, encourage your child to discuss how he/she worked to overcome this.

10. What is the most important part of your education?
Schools want to see that your child is motivated. The easiest way to show that is by asking for bigger and greater challenges. Have your child display that by pointing out how they enjoy being challenged and crave reaching that next level of success.

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