12 High School Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Mar 03 2020

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Many private and independent high schools have admissions processes that, in some cases, mirror those of colleges and universities. Students and parents are asked to fill out lengthy applications, provide evidence of achievements, and sit for an in-person interview. Such a process helps high schools evaluate the numerous applicants who may apply during a given year in order to identify those who can flourish at the school, while also contributing to its academic mission. 

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This process offers an opportunity for school leaders to get to know prospective students and families, as well as for families to get a feel for the school. Thinking about the questions you may be asked during an interview ahead of time can help you feel relaxed and prepared for the interview so that you can have a more productive and enjoyable visit. 

Below are some tips to consider when answering common high school admissions interview questions.

Common School Interview Questions for Students

For students, the high school admissions interview can seem intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Remember that this is simply an opportunity for the school to get to know you better, and for you to get to know them. The following questions are typical of what you can expect at a private school interview.

1. Why do you want to attend [school name]? 

The key here, as with any of these questions, is not to give a fluff, surface-level answer. Research the school and its mission. Show that you have put thought into what this school means for you. It helps if you can also make clear that you can add something to the school’s goals. Explaining that you are a good fit for the school will show admissions counselors that the school is a place where you can succeed, as well as contribute to the overall school community.

2. What is your favorite subject? What is your least favorite subject?

This question gives admissions counselors a glimpse into who you are as a person and what interests you. Be honest and state the subjects you actually like and dislike. Do not try to give the answer you think the listener wants to hear. Answering this question will be your opportunity to highlight your strengths and the ways the school can help you enhance them.

3. What extracurricular activities do you enjoy? 

All schools are interested in having well-rounded students. It is important that you express enthusiasm for endeavors outside of the classroom. Talk about not only what you’ve done in middle school but new activities you may want to try in high school. Asked to be introduced to faculty and staff who oversee extracurricular activities of which you are interested.

4. What do you do for fun?

While it is important to impress admissions counselors, please keep in mind that answers to this question should fit the age and life context of the student. Let the admissions counselor know that you believe this school will not only compliment your interests, but can introduce you to new things that can be fun. It can also be a great idea to browse the clubs and activities available at the school so that you can speak to any that interest you.

5. What is an accomplishment you are most proud of?

Answers to this question should be centered on an educational activity. Talk about a difficult test you have passed, a science fair experiment you created, or an academic contest you have won. Admissions counselors are trying to figure out what motivates you. Show them that achievement in the classroom is your priority.

6. What has been your biggest challenge?

Questions about challenges can be tricky. No one wants to appear as if they cannot do something. You can tie this answer in with the question above about your least favorite subject. Do not dwell so much on why a subject is challenging as much as discuss what you have done to overcome the challenge. Leave the listener with an optimistic view of your ability to handle adversity. 

7. Do you have any questions about [school name]? 

Here is an opportunity for you to show that you have done your homework and researched the school. Scour the school’s website and promotional materials to gather as much information as possible. Use that information to come up with thoughtful questions.  Ask about average test scores and college scholarships attained by students who attend the high school. This is your opportunity to gain insight on things that may not have been discussed at depth on the website or at open houses. 

Common Parent Interview Questions

Private and independent high schools often interview prospective parents in addition to their children. Doing so helps the admissions team get a better understanding of the family in order to determine if there will be a good fit between the family and the school. This is also a great opportunity for parents to ask their own questions about the school. During the interview process, parents may encounter questions similar to the following:

8. Why do you want your child to attend [school name]? 

Interviewers want to know what makes their school your preferred choice. State how much you believe in the excellence of the school and your child’s ability to excel there. Talk about how attending the school fits into a broader plan of developing your child into a well-rounded young adult. Be specific about advantages the school offers as compared to other schools. Articulate exactly what it is you want from the school. Maybe you want your child to build positive relationships with faculty members, or friendships with students who are motivated to achieve at a high level. The more detailed your answer the better.

9. What do you know about [school name]? What do you know about [type of school]?

Be forthright about what you know and don’t know about the school. This will provide the admissions counselor an opportunity to expound on what you might not know or misunderstand. Ideally, you will know basic things such as the type of curriculum and academic mission. If there is something that you do not know don’t be afraid to admit it. Your honesty will be respected and the admissions counselor can fill in the gaps.

For example, families who are interested in Friends’ Central School will often take this opportunity to learn more about Quaker education and how it influences everyday life in our Upper School.

10. What are your child’s strengths and weaknesses? Where do you hope to see them grow?

Talk about ways in which the school can help your child with building character and confidence. This is a chance for you to identify the areas where your child excels, as well as areas where they can develop. Doing so allows you to better convey your child’s needs to the admissions team so that they can evaluate whether or not their school is a good fit.

11. How does your child deal with challenges?

This question helps the admissions counselor understand your child’s ability to handle adversity. Make it clear that your child is capable of overcoming challenges when they are focused on the goal. Students who are self-motivated and inspired to achieve take challenges head on. If your child fits that mold be unapologetic in making it known.

12. Do you have a sense of the activities your child wants to be involved in?

Answers to this question will provide the admissions counselor an opportunity to connect you with the broader school network. If your child is interested in soccer, for example, the counselor may make sure you have a conversation with the coach of the team before the day is over. Broadening the number of people you interact with during the interview process will provide the counselor with multiple perspectives of your child’s potential as a student.

Preparing for High School Interviews

Understanding the type of school you are visiting and what it offers is key to excelling in your interview. You can never be too prepared, so pull out all of the stops to get as much information as you can. Show the admissions counselors you have thought long and hard about your child’s educational future and that you feel this school is the best option for your family.

Speak to current students at the school or those who have recently graduated. Ask them questions about what they liked and disliked about the school. Review media accounts and graduation rates. When you walk into the interview you want to have the broadest perspective possible. The more prepared you are the more likely you are to make a good impression.

Speak to current students at the school or those who have recently graduated. Ask them questions about what they liked and disliked about the school. Review media accounts and graduation rates. When you walk into the interview you want to have the broadest perspective possible. The more prepared you are the more likely you are to make a good impression.

  Key things to remember as you prepare:

  • Do as much research as possible about the school and what it offers. The more you know the more confident you will be.
  • Understand what you want from the school for your child and family. Reflect on what is important to you and what you hope to experience.
  • Relax and enjoy the process. It is just the beginning of a fantastic future!

If you’re interested in learning more about the admissions process at Friends’ Central School or what to expect from our Upper School, you can start by speaking with an admissions counselor who can address any questions that you might have. We also invite families to visit the campus and take a tour to better understand our culture and community.

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