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Tuesday, 29 June 2010

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are very much appreciated and welcomed but if you are looking to advertise your site or business through my blog, then you are not welcome.

This is why all comments will have to moderated before appearing on this blog.

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Thank you to all my regular readers!

Monday, 28 June 2010

Public School Interview - Tips!

It is nowadays very common for any candidate for a public school such as eton college, Harrow, Westminster, Tonbridge to undergo an interview. This is mainly due to the fact that it is hard for schools to differentiate between candidates who have such similar academic backgrounds.

I have narrowed down the typical questions a candidate may be asked at an interview and also HOW to answer it, bearing in mind that this is for the 13+ entry. One should NEVER memorise any question answers and this can be seen by any experienced interviewer.

  • Why do you want to come to XXXX school?
This is a very common question and yet many candidates still manage to answer it poorly. The standard "textbook" answer for this question would be along the lines of ...

"This school is one of the best in the country and I would like to attend it. My parents want me to go to Oxbridge and they think xxxx will let me do so."...

Now, there is nothing wrong with this answer but the problem is, it is the answer that the interviewer expects. It doesn't leave a vivid memory of the candidate to the interviewer. Also a candidate should never bring in their parents in a question like this. Saying that your parents want you to go to Oxbridge may be true but it implies that you are applying to that school not because you want to but because your parents wants you to.

"This school is strong academically but also it is just as strong in non-academic areas. It is a truly international school where I believe I can meet other students from all walks of life. I am particularly interested in the Combined Cadet Force and the school's impressive orchestra. I believe I can make a positive contribution to the school's academic and non-academic life.

This answer is clearly much better. This candidate is able to talk not only about the academic side but also the extracurricular side of the school. This helps to show that the candidate is a well rounded person. The candidate also talks about the school's CCF and it's orchestra, this candidate has clearly done some research into the school and the interviewer will be impressed.

  • What do you think is a disadvantage of boarding?
Another common question. Of course "boarding" can be changed to "living at home" etc.

"The student may become homesick whilst boarding and he may not enjoy boarding. However I believe because the teachers are very nice, no one will become homesick"

Again, this is a perfectly valid answer to say but it lacks originality. Also one should never "suck up" to the school by complimenting the school's teachers etc. This is because it makes the candidate look desperate and that will get you nowhere.

"By boarding, a pupil can develop a obscured image of the real world where everything is perfect and everything is done for you by others. In the real world a person must be able to fend for himself. By boarding, a pupil may become disillusioned and when he leaves his school and face the real world, he can be shocked. However, I believe xxxx school will prepare me fully for life after school"

This answer is clearly more developed and focused. Notice that the candidate hasn't mentioned about getting homesick, although it may be an issue, it is something that lots of other candidate will mention. Also notice the "however", being too negative can be bad, so make sure you balance up your answers by adding something positive but not overdoing to make it look as if you are "sucking up" to the school.

  • What do you do in your free time? Do you read books? Tell me about it.
This question about free time is almost always going to come up. The school want to make sure that pupils coming into their school will not just sit in front of their computers or studying all the time. The question about books, is a way of seeing what type of books a candidate reads and whether he is able to understand it fully.

"In my free time, I like to play snooker, watch movies and read books. (Interviewer: What books do you read?) I like to read Harry Potter. It uses words very well to describe the scenes vividly"

Ok, this is probably one of the worst answers ever but surprisingly, candidates do answer like this. When they ask you about "free time" they don't want to hear about snooker or movies (unless you've got a serious interest in it) but more on the lines of books and sports. This candidate talks about Harry Potter, one of the most read books in history, it is also very easy to read. This doesn't do well to convince the interviewer that you are well developed reading books.

"In my free time, I love to play the violin and play golf. However most of all, I love to read! At home I have a huge collection of Roald Dahl and Sherlock Holmes books. My favourite of all is xxxx by xxxx because I love the fact that Holmes is able to use even the smallest clues to find the culprit. I hope xxxx school will be able to allow me to become sensitive to the smallest of details just like Holmes"

Can you notice what this candidate has done? It is very crafty and clever. He mentions all the relevant "hobbies" such as sports and music and books. He has chosen a book that is believed to be challenging for a 11/12 year old to read and yet he is able to "see" the message of the book and relate to his life. very impressive.

Final thoughts

Of course, these questions are not the conclusive list of questions and the interviewer (quite rightly so) can throw in an unexpected question. The skill is to see beyond the question and answer it so that the interviewer cannot ask any follow up questions. Every question is designed not only to see what kind of person you are but also the thought processes. For example if someone asks you how many schools there are in the world, they are not expecting a number as such but just the process in which you come up with an answer. ie, there are xxxx children in the world so, assuming each school can take in xxxx children, there are xxx schools. can you see?

Always shake the interviewers hand at the start and beginning even though he/she may not offer you to and if they try to make you say something negative about yourself, turn it into a positive. eg, Do you play cricket? Rather than just saying no, you could answer, "I have not had the opportunity to try it out so if I come to XXXX school I would most definitely like to try it out." See, much better!

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