The private high school admissions process is demanding and can be overwhelming for students. Luckily there are a number of ways for students to prepare and practice the types of questions that private high school interviewers will often ask. Applicants should review questions with a parent, guidance counselor or teacher and practice answering them in a focused, mature and confident fashion. A private high school interview typically takes about 20 minutes.
Questions About Attending the School
Private schools will often ask potential candidates why they want to join their community. This question allows interviewers to assess how interested an aspiring student is in enrolling. Furthermore, it enables interviewers to determine how much the student has learned about the school. Prepare for such questions by visiting the campus for a tour to explore classes, clubs and sports. This will familiarize you with the culture of school, while also preparing you for the interview. During the interview, however, if you are asked a question you cannot answer, it's best to simply state that you do not know. A suitable answer to the question can be placed in a thank you card written after the interview.
Questions About Character and Academics
Getting to know who a candidate is as a person is a primary goal of a high school interview. Schools often ask candidates to speak about strengths and weaknesses, both personally and academically. When discussing strengths, you should tell the interviewer about the subjects, hobbies or sports in which you excel. Furthermore, highlight how those strengths translate to the school community to which you are applying. If there is a subject a you have struggled with, use the question regarding weaknesses to explain how you will improve. In addition, anticipate some questions related to your interests. For example, expect to discuss a favorite book, historical figure or geographical location.
Questions About Your Current School
Interviewers can glean information about candidates by asking them about their current educational experience. They often ask whether students are happy at their current schools. Candidates should be honest and appropriate. For example, it's disrespectful to criticize a current school's faculty. Instead of being critical of your current school, highlight the type of school that best fits your needs. If you currently attend a large public school and hope to attend a small boarding school, express the desire for smaller class sizes. Similarly, private school interviewers might ask about a favorite class or teacher to assess whether their school is the right fit for you.
Questions for the Interviewer
At the close of an interview, you will usually have the opportunity to ask the interviewer questions. Having several questions prepared will demonstrate an interest in the school and prove to the interviewer that you were prepared for the interview. Appropriate inquiries include specific questions about the clubs and sports teams you would like to join. In addition, ask about electives that pertain to a favorite subject. For example, if you excel in English class, ask questions about a school newspaper or poetry club. Prepare a short list of questions for each individual school.
Kelly Chester is an educator and writer who has worked in both public and private schools for almost a decade. Her areas of expertise include literature, writing, history and art for adolescents. In addition to writing reports for NYSAIS, she has also written a biography on artist Frank Covino, which was published in the anthology “Teaching Lives.”