Every school has their ideas on what would make the ideal candidate for admission. Differing requirements create a diverse set of interview questions for both prospective students and their families during the admissions process. There are, however, at least five questions that we believe are universally important to all schools.
Below you can find these questions and our explanation as to why you should ask them to every candidate. In our experience, a successful school admission’s operation knows the value and significance of even the simplest-looking questions:
Question 1: Why do you want to come here?
This one seems obvious, but its importance is sometimes overlooked. This seemingly simple question is the most significant initial indicator of a student/family who is genuinely interested and passionate about your school. If, for example, the answer is “my mom is making me,” or “it’s the closest school to our house,” then you would be right to be discouraged by this applicant.
Those who can talk about why the school’s values line up with their own or can point to specific facilities or programs that excite them are applicants that understand and appreciate your community.
Question 2: What will you bring/contribute to our school community?
When space is limited, you have to know what a student and/or their family is going to offer the community. We aren’t talking money here, but rather talents, personality traits, or other skills that will enrich the school. They might be rising athletes, accomplished musicians, gifted artists, or influential leaders that will actively take part in vital areas of student life.
Question 3: What do you think is your biggest weakness?
This classic job interview question works just as well in the realm of school admissions. It will help you sort out those who are self-aware, reflective, and courageous enough to admit a failing. Some will answer with self-flattery: “I work too hard,” or “I’m a perfectionist, and that takes up a lot of my time.” These are fluff answers. If you want to find honesty and integrity, then use this question.
Question 4: Tell me about a time that a school project/activity didn’t go as planned.
Similar to the third question, this will reveal candidates with honesty, integrity, and skills in self-reflection to talk about a time that they failed. More importantly, this question can reveal students who can see setbacks as learning opportunities rather than as embarrassing things they’d rather forget.
Question 5: Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years?
Another popular career question, but it works well for students. Selective schools want to find students with ambition, drive, and passion. Those with well thought out future plans and ideas are candidates that fit that profile neatly. Equally, you may find students of great potential who need guidance and direction, and you may believe your school can offer what they need.
Points of Comparison
When you’re looking at a large pool of applicants, you have to be able to have key “anchor” questions that help you fundamentally compare the students and/or their families. The questions above and other related ones will help you do just that.