In addition to written applications and academic assessment, Select Entry schools and schools that offer scholarship or Select Entry Accelerated Learning (SEAL) programs will often request an interview as part of their admissions process. Interviews can be daunting at the best of times (even for adults), so preparation is crucial to give students the confidence they need to succeed in an admissions interview.
After you’ve celebrated being called for an interview, it’s time to prepare. Research is one of the most effective (yet often overlooked) steps in interview preparation. You need to know the school inside and out to prove your enthusiasm. This means reading everything you can find on the school website. At some point you will be asked if you have any questions, so you need to have a couple up your sleeve to demonstrate your interest. Ask specific questions that relate to the school or program. Research will also help you express how your particular skills, knowledge, and interests are aligned with those of the school.
Next, prepare examples or stories that will help you answer questions. Although you won’t know exactly what you will be asked on the day, there are many websites that have sample interview questions. Practising with an experienced tutor can also help give you an idea of the questions you will be asked. Try to make your answers unique. This means making them specific to you and what you can bring to the school. Practise these stories with a parent, teacher, or tutor to maximise your confidence for the real interview. Even rehearsing in front of a mirror will help you to improve your body language and speech.
Having evidence to support your stories is also recommended. Did you tell them about participating in the school swimming team? Provide your ribbons. Did you receive a high distinction on the ICAS Mathematics test? Present your certificate. Are you a school captain? Show them your badge. This means spending time putting together a folio of awards, letters of reference, school reports, and other examples of your work. Put some effort into this presentation – use a display folder to organise these items.
Finally, make sure you sleep and eat well in the lead up to your interview. It’s easy to underestimate what a good meal and a night’s rest can have on your demeanour and confidence. A neat, clean, and professional outfit should be prepared before the day so getting ready is easy. It is inevitable that you will be nervous on the day, so ensuring that you have completed all of this preparation and practice in advance will be invaluable.