Assistant Head (Admissions), Mrs Sally Petrie gives tips on how to impress at your 11+ interview:
“The 11+ interview can be a worry for families as they wrestle with how to impress senior schools which appear to have different expectations of the process. Irrespective of such fluctuations, there are some guidelines and principles which are useful for both children and parents to know.
In my last post I stressed that here at Cheadle Hulme School we don’t want children (or parents, for that matter) to prepare for their 11+ interviews. How to impress interviewers is a simple process as long as you take account of these top 10 tips!
- Smile. Obvious, I know, but so important. If you do nothing else, look as though you are happy to be there, and you are already half way to a good interview.
- Aim for a nice, firm handshake. You may well be greeted quite formally. Avoid anything limp or half-hearted. Be wary of the partial, ‘nearly a handshake, but not quite’ moment when the hand comes out a little, then retreats. If it looks like a handshake is in the offing, commit and go for it!
- Make eye contact and maintain it (obviously without overdoing it – you are aiming for ‘interested’, not ‘manic’). Say ‘hello’ with your body language – sit up or stand up, shoulders back, head up.
- Try not to start the interview with a mouthful of digestive. We serve nice cake and biscuits here but spraying the interviewer with crumbs could make for an awkward and messy start! (And yes, it has happened!)
- Be truthful. We will have some details about your interests and hobbies from your application form and will probably ask you about these in the interview. Don’t overstate what you do; if you only play badminton twice a year when your Dad forces you to, it’s probably not a good idea to say this is a major hobby. If your parents have exaggerated on the application form, (and, to be honest, they sometimes do!) just say that’s what they’ve done and we will laugh and move on.
- Bring along a photo or picture or piece of work to talk about. This is a great way to break the ice and can literally be anything you want from a holiday snap (just the one – no iPads with hundreds of beach/ski scenes, please), a pet, a favourite place, a lovely cake you made, an event you have attended….anything goes. I would probably avoid One Direction photos if I were you.
- Feel free to ask questions as well as answering them. A dialogue is exactly what we are hoping for.
- Don’t be afraid to hesitate. Thinking before you answer questions is a good thing. We want the interview to feel like a comfortable chat.
- Be yourself – whatever that is – quirky, funny, a bit shy, confident, prone to giggles, loud, thoughtful – just the real you. The more natural the better. We will try to be the same!
- Enjoy! How often in life do you get the chance to talk about yourself for 10 minutes? Take advantage!
Grown-ups should know what they are doing – but here are five top tips!
- Pretty much all of the above. Particularly the biscuits!
- Do ask as many questions as you need answers to. At Cheadle Hulme School, we do our very best to give you a clear, honest and realistic picture about what we are about. Making informed choices is the aim for everyone involved in this process; schools, parents, children.
- Don’t feel duty bound to manufacture questions just to look interested. If we end up just having a nice general chat for a few minutes whilst your child is being interviewed, that’s absolutely fine.
- Honesty helps. Don’t feel that you need to hide the fact that you may be considering a range of schools. In fact, the more we understand about your current thinking, the more valuable the interview will be.
- We are always delighted to hear any extra relevant information about your child. Knowing more about their educational history, commitments outside school, particular concerns, talents or interests can be really helpful to us.
We really do enjoy the interview process and we are confident that you will find it a pleasant experience.