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Private School Interviews

The private school interview is not meant to be tricky, yet for many middle schoolers it is.  For example, when Monica’s daughter was interviewing at a local private school, she was asked, “What would you do with an extra jar of mustard?”  That type of question is meant to elicit creativity and conversation, and for some children it does.  For other children, it simply serves to intimidate and can shut them down from the start. In an interview that often lasts only fifteen minutes, it can be difficult for children to make a good impression in what can be an intimidating experience.

Monica prepares the child by going through the typical interview questions and then guiding them to what their “best” answer is.  Many children have interesting hobbies and interests that they would

not think to mention.  For example, an often asked question is “what

would you do if you had an entirely free day?”  A great answer to this

question is something like this: “I would make pancakes with my dad,

then after breakfast I would go into my room and design some beaded

jewelry, maybe play the guitar for a while, curl up with a Harry Potter

book, and meet some friends at the dog park with our dogs and a

frisbee.” Why is this a good answer?  It shows she enjoys her family

time and reading.  It shows that she is creative and musical, and it

shows that she has friends.

However, often, when Monica first begins working with a 5th or 6th

grader and asks them that question, they say, “I don’t know.”  She then

prompts them with many other questions to help them “remember” what

they like to do.  A “rehearsal” of this nature helps them formulate their thoughts ahead of the interview, so that they are not dumbfounded during the real thing. Talking through many of the often-asked questions sometimes also helps the student find good topics for their application essay as well.


Also, middle schoolers are often awkward and need to be taught how to:

  • Sit properly and avoid fidgeting

  • Dress appropriately

  • Shake hands

  • Maintain good eye contact

  • Avoid using filler words like “um” and “like”

  • Use their voice for adequate volume and interest


When your child is nervous, he or she can't show off their best self. A little preparation, often in one or two appointments, can make all the difference to give them the confidence they need.

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