11 Plus Registration is now open. Apply Here
Top 10 Tips for Interview Preparation

Top 10 Tips for Interview Preparation

11 Plus Revision | December 10, 2018

The 11 Plus itself can be overwhelming for children, but then there is also the interview to make matters more challenging.

With the rise of the population, schools are pushed each year to accept more students. As a result, students compete with each other to gain places at the top schools in the country.

11 Plus exam results are sometimes not enough to get into a secondary school, which has caused the application process to become challenging and stressful.

An essential part of this process is an interview.

This is a key factor in securing a place at a secondary school, as teachers will get the chance to see your child rather than just a name next to a list of grades.

At Tuition Tree, we believe that, while a little nerve-wracking, this is still a great opportunity for children to shine and show off their potential.

To help your child make the best of this situation, we have put together a list of our top ten tips for interview preparation.

Interview Preparation

1. Research the school

Ideally, the parents and child should know a little about the school already if you have applied for a place.

The best type of research is to go and visit the school. This is especially important for the child as they can see if they can imagine themselves there.

You will be able to meet the teachers in person and find out more about the curriculum and whether it appeals to your child.

When choosing a secondary school, it is difficult to know what school is right before your child has spent time there.

Visiting the school is an excellent idea because often children have an immediate impression about whether they like it.

It is also good to look at the school’s website or conduct online research.

This will give you and your child better knowledge about the subjects they will take, as well as the facilities and activities the school provides.

How will my child use this in an interview?

Your child should look at all of this information and decide what makes the school stand out for them.

This can be a particular subject they are interested in or activities if they want to pursue sports.

They should tell their interviewer how the school will help them challenge themselves and reach their potential. This will show passion and dedication and that your child has thought about their future.

2.      Make a list of strengths and weaknesses

Identifying strengths and weaknesses and noting them is one of the best things a parent can do with their child in preparation for the interview.

Your child should always be aware of and be able to utilise their strengths. At the same time, children should also know where their weaknesses lie so that they can work to improve them.

It is important to communicate to your child that weaknesses are not a burden but rather springboards to make them better people.

How will my child use this in an interview?

An awareness of a child’s strengths is a great way of showing your child’s potential and the value they can bring to their new school.

However, it is not to boast or show arrogance.

And the acknowledgement of weaknesses will further illustrate your child’s self-awareness and potential for learning and self-improvement. This is incredibly mature and will no doubt impress the interviewer.

3. Practice

It is likely that your child will never have participated in an interview like this before. Because of this, you must help them practise and get used to the situation so that they are not as nervous.

At Tuition Tree, we suggest asking your child a series of common interview questions so that your child will feel comfortable answering them.

How will my child use this in the interview?

Practice is simply a great way of making your child relaxed so that they can enjoy the interview experience. If they are happy and comfortable, then your child’s unique qualities and talents will shine through, whether they use the answers you practised or not.

Grammar Schools

4.      Hobbies

Getting a place in secondary school is about much more than grades nowadays.

Schools want to see students’ personalities, and a lot of this will come from hobbies or extra-curricular activities.

Some schools will even have your child fill out a form detailing activities they have taken part in or are interested in.

At Tuition Tree, we believe it is beneficial to encourage your child to take part in creative and active tasks.

This leads to further benefits such as social skills and gives them relief from their studies.

How will my child use this in the interview?

By talking about hobbies, your child can show off their creativity and skills. Moreover, it shows that there is much more to your child than schoolwork. Hobbies and interests will give your child a unique identity that will make them stand out against others.

5.      Confidence

This does not mean that your child has to talk a lot or be full of energy. It simply means that your child should make an effort to speak up rather than sit in silence.

If your child is naturally shy, then perhaps do some practice interviews with them, or encourage them to partake in group activities so they will be more relaxed around others.

There is, of course, nothing wrong with being shy. Yet, sitting in silence will make it harder for your child’s brilliance to shine through.

How will my child use this in the interview?

Gaining confidence creates a good impression at the new school but, most importantly, will help your child to believe in themselves and their abilities.

It is great to go through strengths with your child, as mentioned above. However, if they lack confidence or pride around these, then this might not come across as genuine.

At Tuition Tree, we believe that self-confidence is the most valuable attribute a child can have because this shows they will work towards their goals and have the ambition to excel.

6.      Focus and engagement

The ability to demonstrate that you are paying attention can go a long way. It is often difficult for children to engage with strangers.

However, it is essential during an interview that your child shows that they are listening. This is particularly important if there are activities involved in the interview.

For instance, some schools may have a mock lesson to see how students interact with each other.

If your child struggles with concentration, try doing activities with them where they can learn to focus better.

How will my child use this in the interview?

Being able to focus and engage with the interviewer shows a high level of maturity. By listening to the interviewer, your child will have a better chance of taking in the questions and answering correctly.

Furthermore, if your child is focused on the interview, then this displays they are passionate about the school and eager to do well to earn a place.

7.      Reading

If your child has participated in reading outside of school, then this is a very positive attribute. To read is to gain knowledge, which is what education is all about

How will my child use this in the interview?

Reading is another way your child can stand out. By showing they have learned from reading or reading in their spare time, your child will show ambition and determination. They will demonstrate they can expand their knowledge and are willing to pursue their interests without guidance.

8.      A clear focus on goals

Having a definite goal is rather mature for children of this age.

Goals are important because they give your child the motivation to succeed as well as try new things.

It doesn’t matter how big or small the goals are. Any type of target is useful, as the transition between primary and secondary school is the perfect time for change and improvement.

How will my child use this in the interview?

Your child can use this to show they are thinking about their future and how they can enhance their skills. This is a great chance for your child to portray a passion for their new school, too, by explaining how the school will enable them to achieve their goals.

School Room

9.      Being respectful

Politeness is paramount in interview situations. It sounds basic, but make sure your child always says ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ and knows how to act politely. A good impression can easily be spoiled by rude behaviour or inappropriate comments.

How will my child use this in the interview?

Politeness is another manner of demonstrating maturity. This will show that your child is intent on securing their place and that they are a model student. Mutual respect between teachers and students is crucial and will help to build working relationships. This could be what secures your child’s place at their new school but also ensures that the interview is a positive experience.

10. Being themselves

At Tuition Tree, this is our favourite tip. We believe that so long as children are happy and natural, their merits will speak for themselves.

Every child is unique, and this should be celebrated.

In many ways, this is what the interview is for. It is not a test of your child’s abilities but rather a chance for them to be proud of who they are, what they have achieved, and what they will go on to achieve.

How will my child use this in the interview?

Although the interview seems serious, it is simply a chance for the new school to get to know your child. The best and most honest impression they can give is by being themselves.

There is no need to learn answers or say they have done things they haven’t done purely to impress because the chances are that this will have the opposite effect.

If your child hasn’t done things they feel they should have done, then they should be honest and express a desire to do so.

At Tuition Tree, we think that children being true to themselves is crucial. Furthermore, knowing how to improve yourself is key to wowing the interviewer.


This may seem like a daunting list, and that preparation for interviews is a laborious and difficult process. At Tuition Tree, we would like to assure you that this is not the case at all.

Prepare as little or as much as you feel your child needs or wants. Either way, this should be an exciting and constructive experience and the first of many more to come.

There is nothing wrong with skipping a few of the steps on this list. Tuition Tree has made this list purely to give ideas on how to make the interview process easy and more enjoyable for your child.

If you show that you believe in your child, and encourage them to believe in themselves, then this may be all that they need to feel ready.

However, a lot of these skills are skills for life, so there is no better time to learn them than now. If you want more information, check out our Interview Preparation page.

The team at Tuition Tree wish your child the very best of luck!


Your child's journey begins here...

Tuition Tree, 11-12 George Road, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 1NP
0121 270 2889
Expert Team

Expert Tutors

Qualified and experienced educators
Enhanced Preparation

Enhanced Preparation

Interview preparation and mock exams.
Free Assessment

Free Assessment

Book a free assessment online.
DBS Checked

DBS Checked

We prioritise safety and welfare.
Enquire Free Assessment

🌟 Enroll now for West Midlands Eleven Plus Prep! Limited spaces available. Contact us for a FREE session.

📚 Enroll now for Year 3, 4, and 5 students! Don't miss out on our exciting programs. Prepare for success in a nurturing environment. Leave your details below and one of our experienced tutors will contact you today.