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Here are my top five rules for interviews, none of which are earth-shattering news to most parents but all of which are worth bearing in mind!
5: Understand the format of the interview: will your child be tested (Eton, Westminster) if so, what style is the test? Is there a group interview?
4: Do you have to bring anything to the interview ? A school exercise book? An item to discuss? If so, spend some time discussing the items with your child. Flick through the work book and ask your child to select the piece of work they are proudest of. Ask them why they chose their special item. Choose your own item and compare. Have fun finding out about your child!
3: Is there a dress code? Some schools (e.g. Downe House) ask girls to bring sports kit as part of the day includes a group exercise activity. If you are unsure, call the school. Wearing school uniform is always a safe bet and may help your son or daughter to put themselves into school-mode. If you opt to buy a suit or new outfit, make sure that your child has worn it a few time prior to the interview so they aren’t uncomfortable.
2: Spend time talking to your child about what will happen during the interview and discuss what they would like to do at the new school. Go through the website together, get excited about some of the options the school offers and help your child to think of questions they might like to ask. If you are traveling to an interview, get there a day before hand so you can familiarize yourself with the area and your child won’t be intimidated by a new environment.
1: Try to avoid the temptation to teach your child to memorise answers. Trust me, I have been interviewing for over twenty years and it is blindingly obvious when a candidate is reciting the wonderful answers their parent has written for them! Schools interview because they want to understand what motivates the child, what they have to offer and how they will fit in with the school culture. Memorising answers prevents them from really finding out what your son or daughter has to offer. By all means discuss ideas, preferences, hobbies, likes and dislikes but try to stay away from a script! Your child will have their own unique gifts and the interview is a chance for them to share their ideas and enthusiasm.
And for every parent... take a deep breath. After the interview, congratulate your daughter or son and remind them that you are proud of them and their confidence. Try to avoid the temptation of grilling them. Whatever happens, they have made a big step and need your love and support. Go to a cafe and relax!