Are you applying your child to private schools? Is your private school parent interview coming up? As a parent of private school kids and having interviewed at numerous private schools, I know how nerve-wracking the private school admissions process can be. And probably the most stressful part of the process is the parent interview. The good news is the parent interview is probably one of the few things in the private school admissions process that you can control. Here are some tips on how to prepare for your private school parent interview.
Private School Parent Interview Tips
1. Know When the Parent Interview will take place
Believe it or not, sometimes it’s not obvious when the parent interview is. For example, some private schools have you come in for a school tour and then right after the tour, they have you sit down with one of their admissions officers for a “chat”. That “chat” is your private school parent interview! Don’t be caught unprepared! Know the admissions process for schools you are interested in applying your child to (every school is different)- When does the tour take place? Who conducts the school tour? When is the parent interview? Who will be conducting the parent interview? Don’t be afraid to call the admissions office to find out! Do your research before you go on the school tour!
2. Know Your Child Really Well
This is probably the most important private school parent interview tip I can give to you. You need to go into the interview knowing your child. Can you describe your child? What is his/her personality? What are his/her strengths? What makes your child unique? What does your child like to do in his or her free time? What qualities does he/she have that makes your child special? I suggest spending sometime to prepare. Do some brainstorming with your spouse. And for each quality you share, definitely come prepared with anecdotes. You need to know your child really well and be able to articulate it to the private school admission director during your parent interview.
3. Know Your Family Values
The parent interview is a good time to share some of your family values with the private school admission officer. What is important for you when it comes to your child’s education? Why you are interested in attending that private school? Can you elaborate on how your family values align with the school?
4. Come Prepared with Interview Questions to ask the Private School Admissions Director
During your private school parent interview, don’t expect a structured interview. Most likely, the parent interview will feel more like a casual conversation rather than a structured interview where the private school admissions director asks all the questions. Do come prepared to your parent interview for a conversation. Do your research, be ready with questions to ask during your parent interview. I suggest bringing a little notebook to jot down notes and to have your questions at your fingertips in case you get nervous during your parent interview!
Interview questions to ask the Private School Admissions Director
- How do you balance academic rigor and social development?
- How do you encourage leadership skills?
- What do you do to develop communication skills?
- How do you incorporate technology into the curriculum?
- How do you ensure your students learn how to learn at a young age?
- What’s the best way for parents to be involved?
- What towns are the students coming from?
- How do you encourage well-roundedness among your students?
- How do you incorporate the arts into the curriculum?
- How do you encourage intellectual curiosity?
- How do you handle discipline?
Write down all your interview questions in a notebook so you can easily refer to it.
5. Make Sure You and Your Spouse are Prepared and Engaged at the Private School Tour and Parent Interview
It’s important, if applicable in your family situation, that both you and your spouse or you and your partner are present for the parent interview and the private school tour. And make sure you both come prepared, do your research. You should both be engaged at the parent interview, asking questions and giving anecdotes of your child to the private school admissions director. Having both parents present is a demonstration of interest in the school and the value you place on your child’s education.
6. Ask Parents of Current Private School Students for Parent Interview Tips
Talk to parents of current students or alums. You may not think you know anyone from the school but I encourage you to dig deep in your network of friends and colleagues for a connection with the school you are interested in. Schedule a call with the parent and find out what they like about the school. Get a sense of the type of families attending the school- What town are they from? Do most families have 2 working parents or are the moms stay at home moms? How involved are parents at the school? What is the PTA like? You can also ask them about their parent interview experience and see if they can give you any tips on how to ace the parent interview.
7. Relax and Be Yourself at the Parent Interview
Don’t forget to relax and be yourself. The parent interview is a chance for the private school admissions director to get to know you, your spouse, your child and your family but also an opportunity for you to get to know the school.
8. Don’t forget the Thank You Note
Send the private school admissions director a thank you note. Do both: send an email and send an old-fashioned thank you note. Let him/her know that you are very interested in their school.
9. Schedule the Parent Interview with Your First Choice School Last
When scheduling parent interviews with private schools, it’s a good idea to schedule the interview with your first choice school last. That way you have the opportunity to “practice” being interviewed at other schools first. By the time you do your parent interview at your first choice school, you will be very well prepared for your interview and have learned from your mistakes from past interviews. Plus you will be more confident since you’ve had a chance to “practice” your parent interview at the other private schools.
Good luck with the private school application process. Remember to be yourself and know that the parent interview is your chance to get to know the school as well as a chance for the private school admissions officer to get to know you, your child, and your family.
10. Dress Appropriately for the Parent Interview
It goes without saying that you should dress appropriately for your private school parent interview. So what is appropriate parent interview attire? I’d say the majority are dressed in professional, business casual attire based on my firsthand observations of other parents touring the campus and observing other parents waiting at the admissions office. For women, I suggest wearing a blouse, black pants, flats or ankle boots and a nice bag. You can add on a blazer as well. You want to look elegant and polished. For men, I suggest wearing a suit.