Secondary school interview questions

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 26 April 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Some prestigious public and boarding secondary schools require an interview before you can gain admittance. Interviews are an important step in exploring whether or not you are suitable for the school and are also a great way for you to ask questions, show your interest and examine the school yourself. Face-to-face meetings allow schools to test your interpersonal and soft skills and assess how you respond to difficult questions. Learning some of the most common questions and their responses can help to prepare you for your own interview. In this article, we look at secondary school interview questions.

What are secondary school interview questions?

Some public and boarding schools require interviews to gain admittance, which is why it's important to have a good knowledge of secondary school interview questions before you go to one. While entry to one of these prestigious schools might not solely depend on your interview, it's a great place to showcase your interest in the school, demonstrate your talents and make a good impression on the interviewer. When you're attending one of these interviews, you are attempting to 'sell' yourself to the school and its administrators. These schools can sometimes have long waiting lists, so admittance can be competitive.

Careful consideration and preparation is the key to being ready for one of these interviews. Be sure to thoroughly research your background information so that you are confident everything you say is accurate. This can include your achievements, your CV, your strengths and weaknesses and your aspirations. Schools like to see a student with ambition, dedicated to doing well in their education and their future life. These schools usually have rigorous education standards and you can expect to work hard to reach the grades required to stay in school. Carefully consider all of these things before you attempt an entry interview.

Related: Fun interview questions (With 30 example questions)

Tips and tricks

There are a lot of things that you can do to help you prepare for one of these interviews. Balancing being spontaneous with seeming under-prepared or overly scripted is an important factor. Preparing for your interview helps to avoid the conversation from becoming awkward and one-sided, while over-prepared students risk sounding inauthentic and scripted. Here are some things that you can do to help you properly prepare for those challenging secondary school interview questions:

Presentation

Presenting yourself properly for the interview is an important and necessary part of the process. You show respect for the interview, yourself and your interviewer by dressing properly and not seeming distracted. Presenting yourself properly isn't only about the way you dress, it is also about how you act during the interview. If you can remain calm and focused throughout your interview, you are going to appear much more interested in the interview and the interviewer than if you are constantly fidgeting.

This means maintaining eye contact and remaining still in your seat. Try to project a positive and interested attitude. One way to help you do this is to leave your phone, tablet or any other electronics behind you when you attend the interview. This avoids any untimely phone calls, but it also suggests to the interviewer that you are fully engaged with the proceedings. This is important even in the waiting room. You can read the material left there for your use while you wait rather than looking at your phone.

Related: A guide on how to ace an interview (with tips and examples)

Showcase your strengths

Remember to showcase your strengths and achievements throughout the interview. While an interviewer is likely to already know about all of your main achievements, always make sure that you have something that you can highlight during the interview in case it is overlooked by the interviewer. There are various ways that you can raise one of your achievements without it looking as if you are trying to boast, such as in the form of a question. Preparing at least five strengths ahead of time ensures that you always have something to talk about in the interview.

Here is an example of how you can raise one of your own achievements as a question:

'In my previous school, I hosted a book club every week. Is there a similar event held in this school?'

'As the captain of my football team, I am constantly trying to encourage an atmosphere of learning and friendliness within the team. How does this school encourage similar values in its students?'

These types of questions highlight your own achievements, while also showcasing your interest in bringing your skills to this school. Asking questions can help to build a bond with an interviewer, can ease you into a conversation and make the entire process seem much friendlier and easier.

Practice

Practice is the key to performing well in an interview. While you can start by interviewing with a friend or someone you already know, practising with a person you don't know is much more similar to how the actual interview feels. Role-playing out different situations and asking tough questions is a great way to prepare for the actual interview and it's a great way to find the perfect answers for the right questions. You can even time the role-play to give you that added pressure. Interviews may last 20 to 30 minutes, depending on the school.

This added time pressure can help you remember to ask the questions that you want to ask and can help you avoid rambling during the interview. It's unlikely that you are going to have more than one interview, although this can happen sometimes, so it's important that you share the information you want to in the time that you have. If you can, tell your interviewer to ask the most difficult questions that they can think of. Go into this interview without knowing the questions and see how well you do without preparing.

Example questions and answers

There are a few common questions that you can expect an interviewer to ask you. You can easily prepare for these types of questions by using a sample answer and editing it to fit your own profile. Here are some of the questions that many interviewers ask:

Tell me about a difficult obstacle you have overcome

You can use this question to showcase your resilience, determination and problem-solving skills to the interviewer. Almost everyone has faced some sort of difficulty, which might have arisen during their education, in sports or any other aspect of life. Make sure that your example highlights key personality trait that you know the school is looking for in its students. If you can, try to find an example that is distinguishable from what other students might say. Look for a unique situation that you know very few people have been through and use this as your example.

Example:

'Last year I got injured while playing for my local football team. I had just become captain of the team and I was pushing myself too hard in training so as to set an example for the other players and ended up injuring myself. Because of my injury, I wasn't able to play football for the rest of that season. I had to take a step back and look to my health first, rather than that of the team. I started seeing a physiotherapist to help me recover.'

'I worked through a lot of pain at first, but eventually, I got strong again. I was able to rejoin my team and together we won our next match. I was able to share my experience of injury with the rest of the team and we decided to change our training schedule and make sure that we were physically and mentally healthy before going on to the football pitch. I think that's an important thing in any sport and I'm proud I was able to play my own part in that for my team.'

Related: Interview question: 'what is your greatest achievement?'

Tell me about your hobbies or other interests

These schools are looking for well-rounded students. Prepare an answer on each of your hobbies and how you can use the skills you've learned in your daily life. Your hobbies can include many things, such as sports, arts, academic subjects and creative topics. If you have an interesting hobby, then definitely mention it.

Example:

'I recently joined an astronomy group. We spend every Saturday cataloguing the stars and learning about space. I've found it very interesting learning about the universe, it has changed my perspective of the role we play within it.'

Disclaimer: The model shown is for illustration purposes only, and may require additional formatting to meet accepted standards.

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