It’s 7:00 a.m. and your mother just turned on your light. You pull the covers over your head and then you hear her voice: “Your interview at that private school you want to attend is in an hour.” Panic and sweaty palms. You remind yourself to calm down but your brain is swirling with thoughts. What will the admission officer ask me? What should I wear? What if I forget my questions?
Interviewing for an application process to a private high school as a 14 year old can be a daunting and downright scary endeavor. Advice about how to approach a school interview are provided from multiple sources including your teacher, placement director, best friend, older brother, dentist, and your parents. So what makes an admission interview truly great? Here are 5 tips from a top independent school in Northern Virginia which will help prepare you for your private high school interview.
- Eat. That’s right. You are a teenager and you need nutrition. I often hear from students that they did not have “time” to eat. Even if you feel nervous, be sure to intake some nutrition. It will give you the energy you need to focus and impress.
- Smile (with your mouth and eyes). A happy smile can provoke feelings of warmth and relatability with your interviewer. Do not underestimate the importance of connection when meeting someone. And a smile can produce a quick connection.
- Handshake. Now here is the thing - you do not have to be super firm or hold a person’s hand for a long time. What is important is that you maintain your eye contact during your handshake. This portrays you as respectful, confident, and engaged.
- Prepare. This is not to say that you should spend time practicing answers to the “5 most commonly asked questions in an interview”. When preparing for an interview, spend some time reflecting about yourself. Who are you? What do your friends think of you? What makes you interesting? This preparation indicates confidence and self awareness to the interviewer.
- Be Yourself. The biggest mistake you can make when interviewing is trying to portray yourself as someone YOU ARE NOT. An interviewer can smell false portrayal a mile away. Stick to the truth. Tell them who you are. Be calm and confident. Own both your strengths AND your weaknesses. You will walk out of the interview feeling surprisingly good. And you will more than likely have a won an advocate in your interviewer.
Good luck and embrace the journey!