3 Things to Know Before You Begin
Admission representatives interview hundreds of students. The best way to stand out is for students to relax and have an authentic conversation about their interests and experiences.
Do your research.
Admission officers want to know that students are invested in their school. Taking the time to review the school’s website and prepare questions about programs of interest shows sincerity.
Don’t overthink it.
It’s simply a conversation. Interview practice helps students get comfortable, but over-preparing can also lead to undue stress. Aim to strike the right balance for your child.
Want the inside scoop on admissions interviews for private schools? Listen to Kila McCann from The Bolles School and Lisa Pelrine from Chapel Hill-Chauncy Hall discuss what they look for from students along with their advice for families going through the interview process.
conversation with Kristen Carey
Interviews typically occur between October and December for schools with traditional January application deadlines; however, rolling admissions schools or those with openings to fill will schedule interviews year-round.
Most schools require families to complete their online application form before scheduling an interview. Schools may vary on whether all aspects of the application—student essay, recommendation form, parent statement, admission testing, etc.—must be submitted prior to the interview, but it’s helpful to provide this information in advance if you can. When in doubt about the requirements, it’s best to ask the school.
Prior to an interview, you are also encouraged to get to know the school through an open house or school fair, an additional step that helps your family develop a rapport with the admissions team. Visit when an activity of interest such as a drama performance, art exhibit, or soccer game is taking place to fully experience the school’s atmosphere.
What happens in a private school interview?
Interviews are usually one aspect of a private school admissions visit. Processes vary by school and grade level, but you can generally expect to encounter the following facets.
School visits often begin with the tour to provide a sense of place and help prospective students get comfortable. Middle and high school tours are often led by current students, an admissions officer, or a parent volunteer. Insider tip: Tour guides are also trying to get to know you for admissions, so this is a great opportunity to ask questions and make a positive impression.
If you’ve expressed interest in a specific academic, art, athletic, or extracurricular program, admissions officers will often arrange for you to quickly meet the teachers or coaches that run those activities if scheduling permits. These opportunities may appear as impromptu encounters, so make sure to have questions prepared just in case.
Middle and high school students will conduct the interview one-on-one with an admissions officer. What has impressed you about the school? Are you interested in a specific class or course of study? Have your child ready to talk about these subjects to show that they're interested. They’ll also want to dress to the school’s dress code or better, be courteous and thankful, and keep the cell phones out of sight!
For more, read our in-person and virtual interview tips.
Parents are also interviewed without your children in the room. Transparency is the best approach to these conversations as your goal is the same—finding the best educational fit for your child’s success. Keep in mind that this is your opportunity to interview the school, so come prepared. If the school is looking like a strong fit, try to convey how your family will contribute to its community.
After the interview, follow up with your admission officer and tour guide to express your gratitude for their time and consideration. Having upper elementary, middle, and high school students write the thank you notes and a first-choice letter when appropriate helps reinforce their desire to join the school’s community.
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