Many families will be beginning to prepare their children for the forthcoming 7+/8+/11+ interviews for London day schools, such as King's College Wimbledon that interviews in November or other schools that test in January.
Lucy Watts, former Headmistress of Eaton House, Belgravia, has this advice:
“Many schools will state that parents should NOT prepare their children for the actual interview.This means that children should be able to present themselves (only they can do this, not their parents!) in a calm, confident and natural manner.
“However, some guided conversation and self evaluation in advance of the interviews can be beneficial and will not necessarily produce 'learnt' answers that the schools wish to avoid. My interview tips below give some guidance for both pupils and parents.”
First impressions count
Enter the room with a knock on the door, a smile, shake hands and wait to be asked to sit down. Look smart with clean uniform or home clothes, polished shoes and a tidy haircut.
Put your feet on the floor, sit up straight with your hands on your lap and sit still. Maintain eye contact. Use a clear, confident voice and do not mumble.
Be natural and relax. This is a great opportunity to talk about how interesting you are! Always be polite and display good manners.
How to answer questions
Answer in a full sentence and back up your answers. Avoid plain yes/no answers. Do not use language such as ‘yep, like, dunno or stuff’.
If you are asked something like ‘Do you like football?’ don't just say ‘Yes I do.’ Try a fuller answer such as, ‘Yes, I like football and I play for the B team at school.’
Or perhaps you are asked about music: ‘Yes, I like music. I am working towards grade one on the piano and I sing in the choir.’
If you are asked about something that you do not like, try to turn your answer into a positive response. For example, ‘Do you like football?’ could be answered with ‘I am not so keen on football but I do like rugby.’
Chat to your parents and their friends about activities that you enjoy. Be able to talk about your hobbies. You probably have lots of fabulous interests from Lego building to sports to performing magic tricks. Be able to talk about the book that you are currently reading, the style of stories that you like and some favourite authors. You might also be asked to describe a story that you have written yourself.
Describe yourself - that means what TYPE of person are you. Are you kind, helpful, responsible, sporty, musical, funny, happy, etc?
Practice reading aloud. If you are asked to do this, concentrate on the text in case you are asked questions about it. You might be asked some mental maths questions so keep your times tables sharp. If you are interviewed in pairs or a small group, remember to take turns. Be prepared to look at and discuss something a bit different, like a painting or object. Think about why you would like to go to a particular school and prepare a couple of questions to ask the interviewer.
For example, ‘What clubs are there after school?’ or ‘Can I play tennis at lunchtime?’
Watch the news in advance of your interview and be able to talk about something that has caught your eye. Can you display a sense of general knowledge? Read First News or the Junior Week or ask someone to look at either with you. Know the Headmaster’s or Headmistress’ name.
Look at the school website and learn a bit about what they do: sports, music, drama, trips, clubs and charity work.
When you leave your interview: shake hands, smile and say ‘thank you’.
Remember that this is your chance to shine. In just a short time, it is up to you to get across your personality and talents.
Above all, be confident and be YOU!
Lucy Watts helps children in UK schools, advises on entrance exams, undertakes 7+/8+/11+ and pre-test interviews.
She performs school searches for parents and children based in the UK and world-wide. Having been at Eaton House for 25 years, she has extensive knowledge of a wide range of schools with particular expertise in the London day school system from nursery to senior schools. Lucy works with former SENCOs and Education Psychologists for the assessment of children. She can source and guide tutors, if required.
She also advises on staff and Headship recruitment, as well as offering senior management support.
Fees on application for: Telephone or face-to-face consultation ,Interview practice ,School search, Arrangement of academic assessments, Tutor, mentor and SEN support searches
Lucy Watts, Education Consultant- email Miss Lucy Watts -Tel: + 44(0)7956 140101