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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:04 pm 
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Location: London
My son has recently started with a tutor and will be sitting the 11+ in Dec 2010/Jan 2011, as well as entrance exams for up to three independent schools (gulp!).

His tutor was giving some advice this week on preparing for interviews (which can take place any time from September 2010), and she recommended preparing a folder with some information about his enthusiasms and achievements - favourite authors, music grades, sporting achievements etc. - complete with certificates and photos.

The point is mainly to have something to talk about in case he goes blank in the interview. It seems like a nice idea but on reflection I'm wondering if it will seem over the top? In the past I heard of pupils from local prep schools doing something similar and I confess I thought it sounded very contrived - like going in with a CV.

What do other people think?


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:18 pm 
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Location: Maidstone
I wouldnt be interested in the replies too

BUT what the tutor suggested feels way over the top, surely it should also sound natural rather than too rehersed. Taking in a folder and all that sounds heavily coached to me but will be interesting to find out if this is real for sure.

I dont seem to remember anyone saying they ever did that on here unless they were too :oops: What I have heard is dont overdo or over prepare your child. Maybe rehersing basic things like whats your favourite book. Mine probably just needs her mute button tuned off. We have been going round to see schools but she cant even answer any question she gets asked. Just pulls a few facial expressions or shruggs her shoulders. Even when they are other students. Things like so whats your favourite subject, do you like playing netball and she just has her mute button on yet she is a fairly confident child amongst the people she knows. For us that will be the biggest challenge that she at least opens her mouth :cry:

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:57 pm 
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Location: Richmond
my younger son has just completed the process (thankfully!) had interviews and then offers form the 5 schools he sat for. We didn't prepare him, other htan to make sure he had a favourite book, and a second favourite in case they asked him that!Fedback from all teh schools was that he was delightful - a big suprise to us, becasue although we know he is loveley :lol: we thoought he would be monsyllabic, shrugging etc in the interview.
Mostly it seemed the conversation meandered - ie they started asking about a favourite subject at school nad then just went off at a tangent as it were a genuine conversation, rather than an interview.
Best prep I would suggest it to get them used to conversing with adults other than realtives if you can ruistle up a few helpful friends for them to have a natural conversation with.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 4:57 pm 
When I first read this I thought, Noooo and was going to add that a good prep school should include these achievements in a detailed report. However if he is at a state school the report may, as in our case, be one sentence saying,"DS is bright and well behaved". Cheers, thanks for that! :roll: :lol:

I still wouldn't bother though but create the scrap book for him so that he can remember all of his achievements during the interview. He will be asked what subjects he likes and instead of just saying he likes sport he should add that he came 5th in the county for 800m or if he enjoys music he can mention his Grade 4 distinction, for example.


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 5:33 pm 
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Thea wrote:
Best prep I would suggest it to get them used to conversing with adults other than realtives if you can ruistle up a few helpful friends for them to have a natural conversation with.


Second that, and it worked very well.

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 Post subject: Interview prep
PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 7:11 pm 
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I really believe that the school wants to see the real personality.

Yes some light prep may help them a bit. What will help them more is learning to decide for themselves in general. What will help them the most is having developed the self confidence to voice their opinions and to debate, including gently debating with adults.

The best prep? Frequent chat around the dinner table with the whole family: Haiti, Eastenders, Strictly Come Dancing, friendship issues, a favourite book, why Miss Smith is their best teacher ... anything and everything.

Do believe in both your child's intellect and their personality.

Our DD may have gained a bit from her prep but what she subsequently told us made it clear that she near enough did her own thing in all her interviews.... And she received offers from all her schools!


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 7:37 pm 
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Got to agree, seems way over the top to me.

My dd went to two indie interviews, didn't 'prep' for either of them and got offers from both.

They want to see the real child not some well rehearsed phrases. They are teachers who are used to conversing with children and they have 'interviewed' applicants many, many times before. If they (the schools) can't get the information they want from the child, I'd be asking myself if I really wanted to send my child there anyway.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 8:58 pm 
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Unless the tutor has specific knowledge that the schools you'll be applying to wants to see such a folder, I agree with those who've said it sounds over the top (and possibly too early to be thinking about interviews anyway).

Presumably your son has achievements/interests (both academic and non-academic) he can bring up in interviews to give the interviewer a more rounded impression of him. They'll want to hear him speak about those interests, not leaf through a sheaf of papers he's brought with him.

Get him to think of special things he's done in or out of school which he particularly enjoyed and he feels he can discuss with some enthusiasm. If he's anything like my younger daughter, though, you may need to jog his memory (she said she didn't have anything to talk about until I pointed out that in the previous few months she'd sung at the O2 with the school choir, captained the school team in a tag rugby tournament, had just begun playing the clarinet etc etc).


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:16 pm 
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I also think that the presumption that it is okay to take in a folder could be construed as over the top. It could actually have the opposite effect and make the interviewer feel that the child has been 'prepped'.

My gut feeling is that practising conversational skills might be the better way to play this. Natural, natural natural is the way to go on this one I think.

Good luck in the run up - I can empathise!


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 22, 2010 9:20 pm 
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My experience of 10+ interviews x 2 is that Dc is asked to bring an item of interest as a starting point for discussion.

The item is only discussed for a minute or so. So its a waste of time preparing something amazing or specifically to impress for the interview. I'm sure they would see through that anyway.

Better to let the child bring something that is a true reflection of themselves and that they feel happy & comfortable talking about. A picture they have drawn or a medal they have won. Keep it simple.

As has been previously stated try to get them talking confidently to adults outside of their family and to keep up to date with the news. You do not know what they will or will not ask so expext the unexpected.

After trying to prepare my son to answer different what if questions. What if they ask you your favourite sport, book, subject etc one interview took a completely different direction. After discussing the item of interest briefly the interviewer whipped out a passage for my son to read and then asked him questions about it. He then went on to ask him mathematical puzzle type questions.

Not what I had prepared him for so therefore not what Dc had expected. They just have to be themselves so they can hopefully gain a place at a school where they are appreciated for who they actually are not for a super perfect fake version of themselves that will be a tough act to keep up once they start.

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