If you have a school interview looming in the near future, you’re no doubt deep in preparations.
You need to make a good impression, answer questions in the best possible way, whilst also getting a real feel of whether the school is the right one for your child or not. Of course, the interview isn’t only for the parents or guardians, but also for your child too. So, how can you help your child prepare for the interview, and could a governess actually be a very useful professional to help?
Before we get onto that, let’s delve into the real purpose of having this type of school interview, and what you can expect to encounter during the meeting.
What is a School Interview For?
It’s important to approach a school interview in the right way and that means understanding the entire point of it in the first place. An interview isn’t about a rigorous inspection of your family and your child and whether you’re “good enough” for the school, it’s a joint meeting to assess whether your child will fit in to this particular school, whether your values are in alignment, and it’s also a chance for you to ask questions and interview the school too.
This type of interview is to find out if the child is going to fit in, and whether they have the right traits, such as their discipline, behaviour, their values, how committed they are to their studies and whether they have any specific skills which are in alignment with the school’s, e.g. a particular sport or an artistic tendency. It’s also to work out whether the child may need any additional support and whether the school are the best ones to give them what they need.
Of course, you cannot tell a lot about a person from an application form, so the interview is also a chance for the school to get to know your child, but also for you to get to know the school and the head teacher.
What You Need to Prepare Your Child For
It’s important not to put pressure on your child and built the interview up into some huge deal which they become overly anxious about. It’s normal to feel some nerves and of course you need to explain to your child that this interview is important, but don’t force them to see it as something they either win or fail at. Your child needs to be comfortable enough to be themselves and if you put too much pressure onto them they’re going to be stiff and stifled, probably not speaking much at all.
Sit your child down and explain that in order to be able to go to this school they need to go for a chat with the headteacher and talk about what they’re good at, how they do things, and they can ask questions too. It’s not a good idea to actually refer to it as an “interview”, as this suggests pressure. Instead, call it a meeting.
Prior to the interview make sure that your child gets a good night’s sleep and tell them not to worry if they feel a little nervous. It’s totally normal! Beforehand however, a little research and preparation are vital.
Sit down together and learn about the school. Read the information on the website and the prospectus, coming up with some useful questions to ask between you. You could also talk to parents of children who already attend the school and find out a little more information that way. All of this will help you to be prepared on the day, be able to answer questions in an articulate way, but also to ask pertinent questions. These can be just as impressive as the answers you and your child give to the headteacher themselves.
Mention to your child that they’re going to have to answer some questions, and it’s a good idea to do your research into common questions that might crop up. A few of the most likely are:
- What subjects do you like the best?
- What subjects do you dislike and why?
- What subjects do you think you need to improve in the most?
- What career would you like when you leave school? Or, where do you think you will be in 10 years from now?
- What do you like about school?
- What can you bring to our school/contribute?
- Can you tell me about a challenge you’ve encountered in your life and how you overcome it?
- What are your hobbies?
- Who is your favourite author?
- Can you recommend an interesting book for me?
- Has anything happened in the school life that you wish you had dealt with differently?
It’s also likely that standard questions will be asked of you as a family, such as:
- Has your child ever been expelled/suspended/or in any serious trouble in school?
- Does your child have any medical requirements?
- Does your child require learning support in any specific subject?
- Is your child under ongoing care/had previous care for any physical or mental health issue?
It’s a good idea for parents to sit down and do a role play session with the child in order to help them come up with some ideas of things to say. When a child is asked a question, they may have a tendency to mumble or just give a one word answer. In a school interview this isn’t going to show them in their best light, so practicing full answers is a good idea.
You should also encourage your child to speak clearly and not to mumble, to give eye contact and smile throughout. A firm handshake also helps, so that is another thing to practice!
Manners are of course everything, so no fidgeting, slouching, and plenty of ‘please’ and ‘thank you’. Turn off phones before you enter the room also.
The most important thing to remember is that this isn’t an examination and nobody is going to be shining a light on anyone and forcing a right or wrong answer out. There are no answers which are considered correct or otherwise in this situation, and it’s simply about being honest and your child showing their personality and their best manners.
How Can a Governess Help With Interview Preparation?
Preparation for a school interview can take time and whilst it’s important that you help your child with preparation as much as possible and do your research into the school together, a governess could also help with the entire situation and help your child develop their confidence prior to the interview.
Your governess is someone your child has developed a bond of trust with over time and someone they can talk to in detail and understand. With this in mind, perhaps your governess is the ideal person to sit down and do a mock interview with your child. If you do this as their parent, they may not concentrate as well or perhaps not take it seriously. With your governess, they are more likely to do as they are supposed to do!
Your governess can also help to watch the mock interview if you choose to do it with your child yourself and give feedback. Having a person looking in on the interview means they can pick up on small things which may turn out to be deal-breakers. This could include your child slouching when you’re not noticing it, or small answers which could be enunciated more clearly.
Put simply, your governess can dedicate more time to helping your child prepare for the interview, boosting their confidence and helping them to understand that this interview isn’t this huge deal that they must succeed in, but something which could prove to be important in terms of them getting into the right school.
Of course, your governess can also ensure that your child is prepared pre-interview in terms of having the right clothes laid out, encouraging them to get a good night’s sleep, and preparing a breakfast which is full of brain-boosting foods.
Points to Remember
Never underestimate the power of dressing for the occasion, so make sure that your child is well turned out when you attend the interview. Depending upon your child’s age, they might be very keen to go down the line of fashionable haircuts, nail polish and the like, but this is one occasion when they need to be smart and formal!
If they have a current school uniform, this is the best option in terms of what to wear on the day. Make sure it is clean, ironed, and worn properly – make sure skirts aren’t too short, buttons are done up as they should be, ties are tied properly, and no excessive jewellery is worn.
If you are attending an interview for a private school with a particularly strict dress code, pay even more attention to the way your child looks and how they carry themselves. This is something which will be noted upon. Again, this is something your governess will be able to help with and point out specifics which could be improved ahead of time.
On the day, if you find you hit traffic or you’re going to be late for another reason, make sure you call ahead and let the school know. However, it’s better to leave early and arrive early than be late! Rushing will also cause your child to become more agitated and worried, so it’s probably a better idea to leave earlier, and perhaps head somewhere for breakfast or lunch beforehand, relaxing your child and helping them to understand that this interview is important, but not a huge earth-shattering deal either. If your governess is working that day, take them along too, as the more supportive people your child has around them, the better.
It’s a good idea to take along any relevant paperwork, so any recent school reports or any other necessary reports pertinent to your child’s situation. When asked potentially difficult questions, make sure you answer honestly and openly. If you bend the truth in any way and you’re found out, your child’s potential enrolment could be at risk, and if it happens after the enrolment, their future at the school could also be in trouble.
The final points to make are quite obvious, but when you’re in a high pressure situation it can be easy to talk a little too much or interrupt. If your child is asked a question, let them answer it and don’t be tempted to jump in and help them. Give them an encouraging nod and smile and avoid looking unimpressed with any answers they give. Simply encourage them to be honest and open with the interviewer.
At the end, you will be given the opportunity to ask any questions you might have, and it’s a good idea if you let your child ask a question or two as well. However, avoid interrupting when the question is being asked, and let the interviewer finish what they’re saying before you talk. It can often be the small things which make a different in these types of interview scenarios.
School interviews can be nerve-wracking for children and adults alike, but your governess can help to calm the waters with their years of experience. Most governesses have been in the same situation several times before and can offer insight into what to say and do.
In addition, your governess can help to prepare your child by giving them ideas on what to say, practicing questions and answers, and also helping them to feel calm and relaxed prior to the big day.
Taking your governess along with you is also a great idea, because it helps your child to feel supported on the day.
Your governess can also spot the small details that you might otherwise miss, e.g. the way your child answers a question when you’re practicing, and right a potential problem before the interview arrives.