PROCESS

Preparing for Private
School Interviews

Private school admissions interviews can be nerve-racking for students and parents alike when you don’t know what to expect. The advice and resources below will help you get ready for the big day by providing answers to your interview questions and familiarizing you with the admissions process.

A middle school boy practicing for the SSAT.

3 Things to Know Before You Begin

A number one icon.

Be yourself.

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.

A number two icon.

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.

A number 3 icon.

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.

#admissionchat

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
0:00
0:00
Play icon.Pause icon.
Stop icon.
Play icon.Pause icon.
Shuffle icon.Shuffle icon.Repeat icon.
Mute icon.Audio active display.
Volume down icon.
Volume up icon.
A light blue cloud in the background.A light blue cloud in the background.

Interview Process

Timeline

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.

Applying

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.

School Visits

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.

A school icon.

School Tour

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.

An icon of a student at a podium to represent impromptu meetings during interviews.

Impromptu Meetings

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.

An icon of a student during a private school interview.

Student Interview

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.

An icon of two parents to represent the parent interview during the private school interview process.

Parent Interview

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.

An icon of a piece of paper and a pencil to represent following up a private school interview with a thank-you note.

Follow Up

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.

A light blue cloud in the background.A light blue cloud in the background.A light blue cloud in the background.

Admissions Interview Advice Articles

View All
A prospective high school student confidently answering a private school interview question.

How to Make a Great Impression in Private School Interviews

It's true that there's only one chance to make a great first impression. These tips will help prepare students to shine in private school admission interviews.

A prospective high school student waiving to the camera in a virtual private school interview.

How to Stand Out in Virtual Private School Interviews

These seven tips from Admission.org will help your child leave a lasting impression in virtual interviews with the most competitive private schools.

A female student confidently answering a question in her private school interview.

Practice Questions to Feel Good About Private School Interviews

Practice makes perfect, and these private school interview questions will help you gain confidence and discover how to tell your unique story.

Parents interviewing with a private school admissions officer.

29 Parent Interview Questions to Better Evaluate Private Schools

These private school interview tips for parents and questions to ask will help you better evaluate which schools are a fit for your child.

Join Admission Academy

$99 per year (or free with a fee waiver)

Want more interviewing advice? Enroll in Admission Academy today for tips from private school admission leaders. Admission Academy is a yearlong program with live content and on-demand resources. You can enroll at any time but there’s no time like the present to give your family a leg up on the private school application process.

Enroll Now