Ivy Tutors Network Logo
Find a tutor
A Complete Guide to Private School Admissions Interviews

A Complete Guide to Private School Admissions Interviews

Interviews can be one of the most important pieces of the admission process. In this article, we'll tell you everything you need to know private school interviews, and how you and your child can take advantage of this opportunity to engage directly with the schools you are applying to.

Linda Talton
Linda Talton
Private School

Interviews can be one of the most important pieces of the admission process. Private schools pride themselves on having their own unique cultures, which we often refer to as “personalities," and this is largely determined by the families they invite to join their communities.

Parent and student interviews can be informative for both schools and families alike. They are how schools can get a sense of your value system, how you have decided to raise your children, and the type of school environment you are looking for. Private scchool admissions officers are looking for a partnership between school and home, and interviews help them determine if this partnership will be successful.

Do all private schools have interviews?

All private schools have interviews. In general, students applying to high school are interviewed, but their parents are not. Whereas in lower grades it is typical for both students and parents to be interviewed.

Why do private schools have interviews?

Private schools have interviews to ensure that students and families are a good fit for the school, and likewise, that the school is a good fit for them. Interviews are one of the most effective ways for schools to build a community based on common values, beliefs, and missions.

Why do private schools interview parents?

In addtion to exceptionial academics, what stands out most about private schools is the importance of community. But this can only happen if families buy into and are on board with the school culture. Parents are often key orchestrators and participants in the events that make the school a lively community environment, such a holiday fairs, fundraising benefits, and service intitatives. Interviews with students determine if they are well suited to the school academically and socially, but interviews with parents determine if the family is a good fit for the overall school community.

What questions do they ask in a private school interview?

When schools interview students, they are focused on getting to know the students' interests and how they will connect to the school both academically and socially. The admissions office is responsible for building and curating a community, so while they are conducting an interview they may actually be picturing in their minds how this students will relate to other students, faculty, and community memebers.

What do they ask parents in a private school interview?

Parents can expects the school to ask questions about family life, what your child is like as a student, their personality, and what type of school would be ideal for them. The best interviews are more of a conversation, rather than a simple question and answer. More information is gleaned from such interviews for both parties.

What are common private interview questions?

Schools will generally read your application before the interview, so they may ask questions about something that you have shared about your child or family.

What kinds of things do you do as a family?

What is an ideal weekend for you guys?

They may ask parents what type of schools they attended, as this often informs what type of education they would like for their children. Schools also want to measure interest. Admissions offices are fully aware that families are applying to multiple schools, so it is in their best interest to find out what draws a family to them.

Why us over the other school two or three blocks away?

What are your thoughts about what we can do better to support your child academically, socially, and emotionally?

How important is an interview for private school?

Interviews are an important part of the admission process, but it is helpful to keep in mind that there are many compnents of the application to be taken into consideration. In addition to the interview, the application form, teacher recommendations, transcripts, and test scores are all considered when evaluating an applicant. Schools are aware and understanding of the fact that some students are less likely to be comfortable in an interview or may just be naturally shy. Nevertheless, having students spend some time doing a few mock interviews, whether with a family member or a consultant, could make a big difference.

How do I prepare my child for a school interview?

It’s important that your child does not feel pressure. Asking our children to be their best selves with a group of strangers in no small task, but it is something they have to do nonetheless. They should answer questions in full sentences and expand on them with sufficent detail. For example, if they are asked what book they are reading, they should be prepared to speak about the reasons they enjoy the book and their favorite character. They should be polite, pleasant, and show both interest in the conversation and the school. Interviews can actually be delightful, and so the best way to present them to children is as a fun activity. We provide interview prep at School First and have found that the more children talk about themselves the more comfortable they are, which allows schools to really get to know them and to see their true personalities and exactly what makes them special.

How should I dress my child for a school interview?

Your child should be dressed comfortably for their interview. For the most part, they should dress as though they were going to their own school. The only exception to this is when the interview is taking place at a school where the children wear uniforms. In this case, they should dress up a bit. A collared shirt, khakis, nice slacks, a skirt, and blouses would be appropriate options.

5 Tips for Private School Interviews

  1. Ask questions. My top tip for both parents and students is to be prepared to ask questions. The interview should be a two-way conversation, and is also your opportunity to get to know the school in an intimate setting, which is very different from being at an open house or a school tour. You should be prepared to ask at least three questions, or have in mind aspects of the school or the school program that you would like to share connections to or appreciation of.
  2. Share ways in which your child would benefit from being a member of the school community.
  3. Talk about how you might like to be involved as a parent. This is nice for a school to know, particularly in the lower and middle school.
  4. Mention positive things that stood out to you at the tour or open house.
  5. Ask about how the school helps new students transition into the school. This is important at every stage. How does it look in kindergarten, middle school, and high school? They are all such different processes and experiences.

Interviews are an important part of the admission process, so they should be taken seriously without being nerve wracking or ridden with anxiety. I enjoy doing interview prep with students and always tell them that interviews are conversations, and that they are primarily about talking about yourself. And the great thing is that you know all of the answers to questions about you! Believe it or not this is something that does come so easily to many of us, so a little practice can go a long way. This doesn’t mean that we are changing who we are or the responses that we might have to particular questions, it just means that we want to present ourselves in the best light.


Take a Diagnostic Exam in NYC

Start with a diagnostic SAT, ACT, SHSAT, ISEE, SSAT, TACHS, or AP test so you know where you stand and where you need improvement. Knowledge is power!

Contact Us