What is it like to interview at a private school? Good news: There is nothing to fear! Though the idea of being interviewed can be intimidating—for parents and students—it’s helpful to just think of the interview as a conversation. The best admissions teams are friendly, considerate and ready to put your entire family at ease. If they don’t make you comfortable as they guide you through the admission process, you might not be in the right place.
Download the Interview Checklist at bottom before heading into your interviews.
Though the format will vary from school to school, all private schools require an interview with prospective families. Usually, parents and students are interviewed separately. This is the school’s chance to really get to know your family beyond what is written on an application. What are your expectations and hopes? It’s also your family’s chance to ask questions and get to know what distinguishes each school.
As the Director of Admission and Financial Aid for St. Luke’s School, I’ve interviewed hundreds of families. My team strives to de-stress the admission process and turn the interview into something genuinely enjoyable. With that in mind, I put together five tips—applicable to parents and to students of all ages. These tips will serve you well at any school you visit.
5 Private School Interview Tips
1) Be open & honest: The purpose of the interview is for the school and the family to gather enough information to make a good decision—is this the right fit? Will this child thrive here? Finding the right fit requires that both the school and the family are candid and clear about strengths and challenges.
If you or your child has a special concern—social, academic or extracurricular—share it. Admissions teams are not looking for perfection and we appreciate honesty. Trying to present as perfect will backfire and interfere with an accurate assessment.
2) Be yourself & be ready to talk about yourself: The interview is a moment to truly be yourself. Though you want to make an impression, it needs to be an authentic impression. Good admissions people are not looking for cookie-cutter kids with the same personalities. Some students (and parents) are shy or reserved, some are gregarious and confident. It’s all good. The key is to share little stories about who you are, what interests you and what contributions you think you will make to the school you attend.
Come ready to answer questions that will give admissions some insight into your life. Some common questions for students include: What do you like to read? What do you like to do outside of school? What are some of your favorite academic subjects? Is there any current event that has had a big impact on you?
Some common questions for parents include: How would you describe your child? What has your child’s academic journey been like thus far? How does your child handle setbacks? What’s most important to you in a school?
3) Do your homework: Visit the school’s website, read its mission, ask to connect with a current family. Read reviews on sites like Niche. Do some research before the interview so that you can arrive with a list of questions. “I read that your school has one of the largest designLab’s in the area. Can you tell me more about that?” Or, “I love singing, what kind of opportunities are there to perform?” Or, “Is it hard to get on the debate team?” The admission team will notice and appreciate your effort to know their school. Also, the questions you choose to ask will provide insights into what interests you.
4) Practice: Somewhere between underprepared and overly scripted is the sweet spot of properly prepared. The best way to feel relaxed and ready for your interview is to practice a bit. Ideally, that practice can be with an adult who acts as the admissions officer and asks some sample questions. Rehearsal should include greeting the adult, shaking hands, and making eye contact throughout the conversation.
5) Be present: No cell phones, no looking at the time or giving the impression you have to get somewhere soon. Your interviewer will want to feel that there is no place else you’d rather be at that moment. This is a time to be fully present and immersed in the experience at hand.
St. Luke's School Admissions Team: Mary Kate DeRienzo, Ginny Bachman, Michael Rupp, and Blake Bueckman.
Finding the right private school fit for your family is important. Exploring a new school should be exciting and fun. If you’re not enjoying the journey, you may not be in the right place. If you have any questions—not necessarily about St. Luke’s but about private schools in general—please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to introduce you to St. Luke’s. We have several small group tours coming up. If you can make it, please register so we know to expect you.
Don’t forget to download our Interview Checklist below. It’s a great way to ensure you’re prepared before heading into upcoming interviews.
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