School Interviews Need Not Be So Stressful
School interviews can be a very worrying and stressful time for both students and parents. Competition for places can be fierce and failure to get selected to the right schools can seriously affect future academic and career plans.
For this reason, parents often turn to specialist organizations or agencies for help or find interview tutorials on the internet. Unfortunately, some of these can be quite expensive and at the end of the day a waste of money.
The problem is it is quite easy to get a list of the most common interview questions and prepare answers. However, as is often the case, there is a lot more to it than just writing answers and memorizing them.
Firstly, interviewers are not impressed when students just answer questions parrot fashion. Secondly, interviewers might change the question slightly with the objective of trying to catch the student out or confuse them. If the student then resorts to giving a standard memorized answer, it will be viewed negatively if it doesn’t fully answer the question that was asked.
Interviewers are not impressed with parrot-fashion answers, so how?
So, what is the recommended approach to interview preparation and practice? Well at Immerse we don’t just fill a classroom with students and have them prepare answers to the most common interview questions. We don’t then do mock interviews with the students practicing their memorized responses and patting them on the back after they have flawlessly repeated the ‘correct’ answer.
What we do is coach and mentor one-to-one. We teach students not only what to say and, just as importantly, what not to say but also how to say it. We also get students to think about why that particular question is being asked and what the interviewer is really trying to find out. We use the student’s strengths and address any weaknesses. We build up a picture for the student based on their life story, goals and aspirations from which we develop answers for the interview questions. At this point, if the student doesn’t have any goals or aspirations, we address that. Then we practice both face-to-face and Zoom interviews quite intensely, often changing or disguising questions to fully challenge the student.
We have found that this is the best way to prepare students for interviews because we give them the most important thing – confidence. Our students know that they can answer any question well that might come up and more importantly answer them in a very natural way. We are actually teaching some very important life skills that go beyond school interviews because they can be applied to many social situations now and work life in the future.
One example is the ‘halo and horns’ effect, which relates basically to first impressions. It is often said that the first couple of minutes are the most important because this is when interviewers really make up their minds about someone. If first impressions are not so good, then that person will be given horns and conversely, if first impressions are positive, that person will be given a halo. This will set the tone for the rest of the interview.
So, to give an example, a student with a halo might be asked this common question: ‘What is your greatest weakness?’, to which they might reply, ‘My English’. The interviewer might already have noticed this, but think, ‘Well, this student’s English is not so bad, maybe he can improve over time’. However, a student with ‘horns’ might receive a different response with the interviewer thinking, ‘Well his English is really not good enough and he will surely struggle in class’. This is the reason first impressions are very important and why we place a lot of emphasis on this, especially when practicing interviews.
A final point to bear in mind is that good schools are in competition with each other, especially when it comes to reputation and prestige. Therefore, they need to find those students who will work hard to get excellent grades, have the right academic and career goals, and are the right fit. They have limited places available, so they need to make sure during the interview process that they are making the right selections. That is where we can help. We can provide your child with the necessary skills, knowledge, and confidence to perform well in any interview situation.
If you would like any further information about our school interview preparation and practice course or would like to talk to one of our representatives, you can contact us directly by dropping us a line or call us!