Interviews are a part of life and they are not going away. People hire people, and normally they only have 30 – 60 minutes to figure out if you are a good fit for them. This goes for adults in the workplace, but also for children with certain schools. If your child has an interview coming up e.g. for 11+ independent school entrance in the UK, then this will likely be the first of many in their life.
Take a quick look at this list of classic interview questions, for 11+ and for real job interviews. Do you see how similar the questions for kids are to the questions for grown-ups?
If you are prepping your child for interviews then keep reading as I will do 3 things:
First – I will summarise and share links for the best articles I have found for 11+ interview preparation.
Second – I will draw from my own personal experience of being interviewee and interviewer many times in my life.
Third – I will leave you with a very practical suggestion to help your kids at home straight away! Hint: it's this awesome App.
There is lots of material out there on this, so let me help you by summarising some of the best stuff.
I had the pleasure of speaking to Dr. Afrosa Ahmed recently. She has written this practical and concise book to help parents prepare for independent school interviews, drawing from her own experience as a Mum whose 2 boys succeeded in this and as a Doctor who has interviewed numerous medical school hopefuls.
With her permission I have copied a bit below that I found quite helpful:
“They are looking for those who are ABLE:
And here is the best of the rest – sharing below some advice by tutors who have been through the 11+ process many times. The overall sentiment is to help your child feel natural, relaxed and confident – which is good advice for grown-up interviews also!
I have been interviewee and interviewer many times in my life. Starting with my own 7+ and 11+ independent school experience many years ago, then Cambridge University selection interviews, then for my first job as a Strategy Consultant, and then 5 other jobs after that. Nowadays I tend to be the interviewer and I have lost count of how many candidates I have spoken to.
Overall, I have found that the more articulate and confident I became, the better I interviewed. I discovered that it was not about knowing the answer, rather that you are able to express what you are thinking and how you would approach a situation. I am always telling my own kids this nowadays!
Back at Cambridge I probably just scraped through since the interviews went so-so. I had applied for Engineering and I remember being shown a schematic of a jet engine and being asked for my thoughts. I was like a rabbit caught in headlights -seeing all these turbine blades and other complex looking machinery and wondering what on earth was going on. I remember I nearly said “But we haven’t been taught this yet” and checked myself to instead say “Wow, I ‘ve never seen this before. I wonder what this bit does.” I think the curiosity and enthusiasm for learning I displayed just about got me through!
Later in the Corporate world, I did the rounds with Strategy Consulting companies. These interviews are notorious for testing how you think. It is always about the thought process and never about the answer. For instance I have been asked all of the following: “How much bread gets sold each year in the UK?”; “How much money does the London Eye make each year?”; “What would you do with a 1 million dollars?” etc Each time it was tempting to blurt out “A lot!” or “I don’t know!” but instead I learned to lean into the problem – accepting I didn’t know the answer but there is a way we could think about it (e.g. 70 million people in UK, assume each spends £1 a week on bread etc)
Ultimately people are trying to figure out whether they can work with you – in the classroom or the office floor. They want curious people who ask good questions and who aren’t afraid to be a little uncomfortable.
So given all this, how can we simply but effectively prepare our children for interviews – be it the 11+ or any future job interviews?
First of all, I want to be clear about something:
We can’t game the system, nor should we try. Interviewers can spot over-rehearsed children a mile off.
And anyway we shouldn’t anyway be seeing interviews as a test to pass to get in to the school / business of choice.
Instead let’s see interviews as a mutual sense-check of whether the school / business and the candidate are right for each other.
To do that both sides need to be at ease and sharing with the other their genuine selves.
When preparing your child you are simply helping them let their best selves shine through.
However, this does not happen if your child lacks confidence, can’t communicate clearly or gets unsettled when asked something challenging.
So do this with them regularly!
Ask them challenging questions every day. Push back on their thinking each time. Get them talking and expressing their thoughts and feelings on a wide range of subjects frequently.
How great would it be if your child is always “ready” for an interview, since you have groomed them to be the type of person who can think on their feet, ask good questions to figure out a situation and build rapport with the person they are talking to?
Here are some examples of fantastic questions for 7-11 year old children in particular, which need only take 5 minutes but can build talking / thinking / feeling skills –
💬 To get them talking:
💭 To get them thinking:
🤍 To get them feeling:
If you want to do more on a regular basis - and I really recommend you do - then check out www.KidCoach.app.
Here we have hundreds of guided conversations that get kids talking, thinking and feeling….and in doing so are perfect preparation for any upcoming interview. These are conversations that any parent can have (and we give you guidance / prompts if you need them) and the feedback from parents is that it is also a wonderfully fresh way to spend time with their kids!
I wish you the best of luck and if you need any advice then please email me at email@example.com...I will be happy to help!
👉You may also wish to join a special Facebook group we have created for parents preparing for 11+ interviews. 👈
Dad of 2 kids
Founder of KidCoachApp