How Do I Prepare for a High School Interview?
Having your child interview for high school can be very exciting, and also a little scary.
There are so many questions that go through your head. What will they ask? Should I say anything? How do I prepare my children for the process?
The truth is, there are no easy or “ready-made” answers to these questions, but as you get closer to decision time, it’s time to start thinking about them.
What Should I Expect at a High School Interview?
At a high school interview, you will be asked a predetermined set of questions that are designed to give the admissions panel insight into who you are as an applicant. The interviewer’s job isn’t necessarily to ask you a bunch of challenging and thought-provoking questions, but rather to get a sense of who you are: your personality, motivation, strengths, and weaknesses.
The process is meant to be conversational in nature and it is important NOT to memorize answers beforehand; instead, focus on preparation by thinking about examples from your personal experience that demonstrate qualities that the school values in their students.
Remember that the interviewer wants to like you, so come across as confident but not cheeky. You want them to think “I’d love for this person to be in our school!”
Top Interview Dos and Don’ts
High school students are being interviewed by universities to be accepted into various colleges. Some have to go through the interview several times before they can get in. For example, you may do well on your SAT or ACT test and score well in the high school courses but an interviewer may question whether you have what it takes to succeed in college – so, you have to show them.
You can prepare yourself during the interview so that you will do well and be able to get in.
- You want a very positive body language. You need to smile, look at the person who is interviewing you, not your feet or some other place on the floor. If you are doing this, you are sending a message to the interviewer that you are not very interested in them or what they have to say.
- You need to make eye contact with your interviewer. Your eyes convey many messages, some will be good and others not so good. If you look away too much during an interview, the interviewer may question whether you are trustworthy or not. They may think that you won’t be able to convey valuable ideas if they are important.
- If your interviewer is taking notes, it is good for you to stand up straight and don’t lay both of your arms on the table or desk. You want to look strong, confident and prepared.
- If you are seated, sit up straight and lean toward the interviewer so it shows that you are paying attention.
- You want to speak clearly and use good diction so that your words can be understood. Don’t mumble or slur your words together. Be sure you don’t say “um” too often.
- If you are nervous, you may talk faster than you normally do. Just make sure that your interviewer can keep up with what you are saying. If it is too fast, they may think that you are not making any sense or don’t understand what you are talking about. You want to be sure enough time is given for the interviewer to ask you a question.
- Don’t say “I don’t know” too often or too quickly. If an interviewer asks you something and you don’t know the answer right away, take a moment to think about it before you respond. You can even tell them that you will give them an answer as soon as possible. This will show them that you are thinking about what they have asked and not just trying to give an answer.
- You want to portray yourself in the best way possible. Let your interviewer know why you want to attend their college or university. This may be different than any other school because of its location, sports teams, etc. You can talk about an internship you’ve had and especially the professional experiences you’ve had.
- Think about your projects in high school, clubs, and sports that you were involved with. Don’t make it too long-winded but let them know why you like to take part in these activities and what benefits or skills they have taught you.
- You can tell your interviewer about what you’ve been doing for extracurricular activities. What clubs, sports, etc. have you been involved with? Don’t make it too long but give them a very brief description of what you like to do in your spare time – this will portray who you are as a person.
- If you are asked an ethical question, think about your answer for a while before presenting it. Show that you have critical thinking skills and that you don’t just respond to things right away. You want to come across as someone who has strong character traits because this will make other people feel more comfortable with you when they interact with you in the future.
Ask for Feedback
- If you are interviewed, don’t be afraid to ask the interviewer what they thought about your answers. This will show that you are interested in knowing how well you did in the interview and if there are any areas where you can improve upon. You may also want to ask them about their school, what they like about it and how they chose to go there.
- You can always ask what you can do better in the future when interviewing for other schools. This will allow you to know where your strengths are and where you need to focus more during an interview.
- You have done something wrong? If so, find out what you should have done and learn from it.
- Thank everyone who interviewed you and say goodbye as you leave the room. This will show that you appreciate the time they took out of their day to meet with you. You want to be sure that they remember your name because if they do this means that you made a strong impression on them.
- You want to make sure that you have a strong handshake. Stand up, look at the interviewer’s eyes and shake their hand with your right hand. Shake firmly but not too hard – this is a common mistake students make! Always be optimistic about yourself and never bad-mouth any other colleges or universities you’ve been interviewed by or your classmates.
- If you don’t like an interviewer’s tie or the color shirt they are wearing, never say anything about it. You will want to avoid any distractions that can take away from your interview. A good interviewer will know when someone is distracted because of what they are wearing and won’t mind if you change what you’re wearing so you’ll be more comfortable.
- It is important to remember that it takes a lot to get into college and getting nervous is completely normal! Everyone gets nervous so don’t beat yourself up if you did something wrong or said the wrong thing – everyone makes mistakes!
What Questions Do They Ask You at a High School Interview?
The following list contains typical interview questions our counselors have received from students over the years:
- Tell me about yourself (be honest…this is not a time to brag).
- What are your strengths and weaknesses? How do you think these strengths/weaknesses will affect your success at _____ High School?
- Who is your favorite musician, actor, or professional athlete and why?
- If I called one of your teachers, what would they say about you (hint: ask a teacher for their input!). What did you like best and least about middle school? College counselors ask this question in order to gain more insight into the student’s personality…what kinds of things does he/she really cares about most.
- Do you have any hobbies or special interests outside of school? It’s never too early to start discussing extracurricular activities.
- What did you do to prepare yourself for this interview? (Good answer: I talked with my parents/guardians, looked at your website, and read through the student handbook).
- Do you have any questions for me? It’s always a good idea to have some in mind, just in case they ask!
- Tell me about your favorite book or movie. Why? This is another opportunity to discuss one of your passions; it also allows you a chance to tell them something about yourself that isn’t related to schoolwork!
- You seem nervous…what are you most afraid of? You might start feeling more comfortable if you think of questions like this. Discuss what makes you feel most at ease or what makes you feel most anxious.
- I am looking for students who are interested in ________ (fill in the blank, such as leadership, journalism, etc.). Tell me about your interests/experiences in this area and why you are interested.
- Why do you want to come to our school? Here’s another question where a little research goes a long way! It can be helpful to read through the school’s website as well as reviewing its mission statement.
- What are your best and worst subjects? This is another opportunity for them to discuss something they really enjoy doing…or not doing!
- If we were making pizza together one night, what would we make? This type of question can be a lot of fun, but it also gives you a chance to talk about some of the things you enjoy doing in your spare time.
- What are some personal qualities or skills you have that might set you apart from other applicants? This question is another great opportunity to discuss how you’re unique! Make sure they know what sets them apart from someone else who would be applying for this same type of school—whether it’s hard work, leadership skills, etc.
How Should a High School Student Prepare for an Interview?
First, it’s important that your child gets enough sleep the night before. If he or she is tired during the interview, it will be much harder to answer questions in a way that makes him/her look good!
Second, parents should make sure their child looks nice and presentable to the interviewers. Parents can even help them get dressed and do their hair/makeup if necessary!
It’s also important for students to take a tour of the school. They should arrive about 15 minutes early and ask lots of questions along the way. This gives them an opportunity to become familiar with both the building and staff members who might later act as counselors or teachers.
Lastly, students should try to relax during the interview! It can be nerve-wracking to talk about your accomplishments with people you don’t know very well, but try not to let it get to you! If you haven’t had an interview before, ask a friend or family member who has gone through the process for help.
What Should I Say in a School Interview?
It’s important to be yourself during the interview, so don’t try to pretend you are someone you’re not. The interviewer wants to get to know you as a person and what makes you unique!
In order for them to get a better idea of who you are, it can be helpful to talk about things that interest you most. For example, if the interviewer asks what you like about high school, you might say something like “I am really into art and music and I’m involved in both clubs at my school.” If they ask why your grades have been dropping recently, consider talking about how much harder it is getting used to new teachers every year when moving schools—and how this has affected your grades.
The bottom line: As long as you’re honest, it will be okay if you don’t know the answer to every question they ask. Sometimes it’s better to say “I’m not quite sure how to answer that…but I’d be happy to talk about my family instead.”
What Questions Should an Interviewer Not Ask?
An interviewer shouldn’t ask questions that require personal information like religious beliefs or political views.
If a student is applying for a scholarship, the interviewers may ask what he/she plans on doing with the money…however they shouldn’t try to take advantage of this opportunity by asking the student’s opinions on politics or religion!
Most importantly, never discuss your family during an interview—it can be uncomfortable for students and parents alike.
Why Do Schools Conduct Interviews?
Some schools use the interview as a way to assess students’ communication skills, particularly if English is not their first language. Students may also be asked questions about certain topics in order to see how they can respond intelligently and/or solve problems.
For example, a teacher may ask “What would you do if there was an emergency during class and it was necessary to evacuate?” If they answer this question well, it shows the interviewer that they can make responsible decisions when faced with real-life situations.
How Do You Answer “Tell Me About Yourself” in a School Interview?
This question is probably the most common one that interviewers ask. It lets the student talk about themselves in a more general way, instead of focusing on specific skills or achievements (which are usually covered later in the interview). This question gives students an opportunity to talk about their interests/hobbies and what makes them unique! Be honest when you answer this question—the interviewer wants to get to know your true personality!
For example: “Well I’m not sure how interesting my life really is but let’s see…I mostly just spend my time hanging out with friends and going to school.”
If you don’t have much experience talking about yourself, it might be easier to give examples from your life instead. For example: “My favorite class in school was science because I really like learning about the human body.”