I don’t know about you, but the thought of doing an interview fills me with horror.  Only last week, I had an interview assessment following my Level 3 safeguarding course and felt sick to the stomach, spending the hour beforehand frantically cramming even though I knew I was prepared.

Throughout our lives, most of us have to endure countless interviews and it is impossible not to get anxious beforehand.  Being nervous is, of course, completely natural and that adrenaline actually helps us to perform better.  However, we can minimise the anxiety by being well-prepared.

Only a very small number of children aged 10 and 11 have ever taken part in a formal interview and the fear of the unknown can lead to them feeling overwhelmed.  With demand for independent schools at an all-time high, the interview part of the application has become an increasingly important part of the process.  With schools heavily over-subscribed and so many children achieving the necessary pass mark, it is the interview that often determines whether they will get an offer or not.

Don’t forget that the interview process is not one way.  It is an opportunity for the student to assess the school as well and decide whether it is the right place for them.

To smooth the path for our students (and parents!) I have put together some answers to the FAQs I am often asked.

  • Why do schools interview potential students?

The interview section is all about finding out about the student’s interpersonal and communication skills.  As a teacher interviewer, you are trying to uncover answers to the following questions:

Would I enjoy having this student in my class?

What drives or motivates them?

What is unique or special about them?

Are they the right fit for this school?

What can they contribute to our school environment?


  • What is the structure of the interview?

Interview can last from between 15-40 minutes and usually cover the following categories:

General/ personal information – their hobbies and interests

Currents affairs – a discussion about something that has caught their eye in the news

Analysis of a text/ arithmetic – some schools ask students to read an extract and discuss it

Answer a hypothetical or critical thinking question such as “If you were an animal, which would you be an why?”


  • What kind of questions are asked?

Most questions will be very open-ended, allowing the student to take the conversation where they would like to go.  Interviewers tend to use the TED (tell, explain, describe) technique which means the interview should be more like a conversation than a question-and-answer session.

Below, are a list of commonly asked questions:

Why do you want to come to this school?

What is your favourite/ least favourite subject?  Why?

What was the last book you read?  Tell me about it.

Do you do any activities out of school?

If you could solve one problem in the world, what would it be and why?

What news story over the past few months has caught your attention?  Why?

Tell me about a time you felt disappointed or embarrassed.

Who is your idol and why?

Dos and Donts


  • Arrive in good time and remember the process starts from the moment you enter the building
  • Smile
  • Make eye-contact
  • Read First News and watch Newsround beforehand
  • Ask a question at the end when they ask if you have anything to add – have this prepared
  • Make your interview memorable to the interviewer
  • Pause and consider for a moment before answering each question
  • Be prepared for open ended questions, such as “Tell me about yourself”


  • Be overconfident
  • Answer monosyllabically – no simple yes or no answers
  • Mumble
  • Get overly anxious
  • Parents – don’t be tempted to speak for your child ( I speak from experience here and was asked to leave the room!)

Practice makes perfect and we offer 30-minute prep sessions for just £22 with one of our experienced 11+ interview team. This includes advice on body language, content, practice questions and interview techniques.

Please email alison@goldenbrainacademy.com for details and to book.