Deciding which international school is the best for your child can be one of the most stressful decision awaiting expat parents. It certainly doesn’t get easier when the admission process begins. Interviews can begin as young as three years old and it makes sense to know exactly what to prepare for. Here are our tips for the interview process at international schools!
What will they test your child on?
Many argue that the most important skill that the school will test is the child’s ability to follow simple instructions. This is less a behavioural check, but more of a test of your child’s lateral thinking. Another key factor is your child’s confidence, and subsequently, how they will respond to challenge or difficulty. The interviewer will also test your child’s communication skills. This is usually done in a group, to see how well your child fares with his or her counterparts. The questions are usually basic and should not be anything that your child cannot answer. Typical questions involve asking about family members, birthdays, likes and hobbies. Last but not least, your child’s intellectual capabilities will be tested. Again, this is less about intelligence but more about their oral fluency in English as well as their speaking skills. They may also be tested on phonics, numbers and skills.
Spending some time preparing your child before the interview may not guarantee success but it will certainly help ease you towards it. The most important part is that you should help your child feel relax and not to put undue pressure on your child. Doing simple exercises to train your child’s patience and confidence, if necessary, may make the world of difference on the day of the interview. If you feel this is a little out of your depth, you can also try a practice session. These are readily available at academies and tuition centers around Hong Kong. You can even ask the school the type of interview methods they will use to practice with your child in the lead up to the day. Importantly, you might want to practice some basic etiquette, as it will expected that your children will respond to teachers formally.
And the don’ts
Try not to let your child feel any pressure about the interview. Children are remarkably sensitive and if they feel that the interview will be the be all and end all, it might affect their performance. The same can also be said for interview practice. The more that they have in the lead up to the interview may have a detrimental result, instead of a positive one. Any type of bombardment will overwhelm your child and this will become evident on interview day. All that your child needs to do is be friendly and cooperative, and those should be the most important areas to focus on. It sounds easier said than done, but too much preparation can lead to a lot of pressure and the result will be inherently negative.
On the day
This is a day for dotting i’s and crossing t’s. Make sure that all your paperwork is in order and you have sufficient copies of any important documents that the school may need. Remember to dress your child smartly, and most importantly, encourage them to have fun. Emphasising how proud you are of them before and after the interview is also extremely important, so make sure that it is your priority on the day. Also, remember to arrive early! Punctuality is key here, and you want to make the best impression possible.
After the interview
Always make sure that you extend courtesies to the school by sending them a thank you email. It does not have to be ingratiating, but a concise message of thanks. Small touches often make the difference, especially if competition is tight. Be prepared to wait up to three months for an answer and remember that a successful interview does not necessarily mean admission. Your child may be placed on a waiting list, so expect an answer that may not be what you expect. If your child is not accepted, it is perfectly acceptable to ask for feedback and to seek further advice.