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Five Common Private School Interview Questions

While each student will have a different experience during the interview, and each school varies in what it asks the applicants, here are some common questions that private school interviewers ask.
By GPA Admin

Five Common Private School Interview Questions

If your child is applying to private schools for the upper grades (usually fifth grade and above), he or she go through interviews where the admission committees get to know your your child on a more personal level and decide on your child’s admission. While each student will have a different experience during the interview, and each school varies in what it asks the applicants, here are some common questions that private school interviewers ask. Your child should practice answering these questions to prepare for the interview:

What has happened recently in current events that interest you?

Upper class students are expected to follow current events and know what’s going on. During an election year, students may be asked about the issues involved in the election. To answer this question in a thoughtful way, students should read their local newspaper, as well as an international or national paper such as The New York Times (which owns this site), or the Economist. In addition, students can use this site to brush up on current world news. Students should think on their own and analyze the news and communicate with the interviewer the events happening locally and abroad. Many private school history classes require students to read the newspaper regularly, so it’s beneficial for students to start reading the newspaper even before entering private school.

What do you read outside of school?

In today’s world of video games and Internet,  students don’t read as many books. However, they should develop the habit of reading and read at least three age-appropriate books to speak about in the interview. While it’s acceptable to speak about books students have read in school, they should also have read some books outside of class. While many students devour a steady diet of fantasy, the admissions committees often prefer students to speak about classic fiction, high-grade novels, and advanced non-fiction books. Those are the types of books students should read.

During the interview, your child will be asked to explain why he/she is interested in the books. For example, why are the topics compelling? Are there interesting main characters? Is a fascinating event in history explained thoroughly in the books? Are they written in an engaging and suspenseful way? Applicants can think about how they might answer this question in advance.

Tell me a bit about your family.

This is a common interview question, and one that is unfortunately filled with minefields. Applicants can talk about who’s in their immediate and extended family, but they should steer away from sensitive or potentially embarrassing subjects. It’s fine to state that the child’s parents are divorced, as this fact will be obvious to the admissions committee, but the applicant shouldn’t speak about topics that are too personal or confidential.

Why are you interested in our school?

Admissions committees like this question so that they can assess how motivated the student is in appying to their schools. The applicant should know something about the school and which academic classes, sports, or extracurricular activities he or she might participate in once enrolled. It’s compelling if the student has visited classes at the school or spoken to coaches or teachers in order to explain vividly why he or she wants to attend at the school. Clichéd answers such as, “Your school has a great reputation” or passive answers like, “My dad said I would get into a really good college if I went here” don’t hold much water with admissions committees.

Tell us more about what you do outside of school.

This one is a no-brainer. Students should be prepared to speak eloquently about their areas of interest, whether it’s music, drama, or sports. They should also explain how they will continue this interest while at the school, as admissions committees are always looking for well-rounded applicants.


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