Most independent schools will ask your child to attend an 11 Plus interview after passing their 11 Plus exam. Securing the interview doesn’t guarantee entry. So, you will need to assist your child in preparing for the interview for the best possible outcome.
The questions in the interview vary depending on the school and the interviewer. But they’re not entirely unpredictable. With the right information, you can prepare your child for the interview, help them keep calm and give them an idea of what to expect.
The Purpose of the 11 Plus Interview
The principal reasons for the interview are the same. It’s important to understand why your child is being interviewed as the foundation of the preparation.
Most schools want to assess the child and determine if the child will fit in academically and socially or display the types of behaviour that the school expects from its pupils.
The interview also assesses whether your child is committed to studying and participating in the school’s extracurricular activities. For the school, the interview determines whether they can meet your child’s academic needs and support them throughout their academic life.
How to Present Yourself
Before you can answer the questions, how the child presents themselves is critical. Like in the real world, first impressions here carry a lot of weight.
The child should be smartly dressed. Shirts should be tucked in, hair tidy, and shoes polished. Stay away from t-shirts and trainers because they have a more casual look that might not sit well with the interviewers.
Remind the child to make eye contact with the interviewer when introduced. A firm handshake is also critical to start the relationship positively and give the best first impression.
Remind the child to sit upright with their bottom to the back of the seat. If there’s a table, tuck the chair under the table. This minimises fidgeting, slouching or leg swinging, which can distract the interviewer. Your child should also keep their hands clasped together in their lap to stop them from playing around with them.
How to Answer 11 Plus Interview Question
Having a strategy for each of the questions is critical. When preparing for the interview with your child, you need to develop an approach to help them stay focused and maintain calmness.
The first rule is not to rush. It’s harder for students to think on their feet, especially when nervous. The interview might feel hasty, but the student shouldn’t feel rushed to answer. The interviewer won’t mind you taking a few seconds to put your answer together instead of rushing and losing your line of thought in the middle of the answer.
Encourage the student to pause at the end of the question to think about how they respond. A neat technique to teach the child is to practice counting five seconds on their hands. This gives them time to gather their thoughts and develop a substantive answer.
Although the silence might feel scary, rushing to answer the question can lead to a lot of filler words that can distract the interviewer and take away from the substance of the response.
Clarify the question
Encourage the child to get clarification for questions or words they don’t understand. They shouldn’t feel embarrassed requesting clarifications or slight explanations. It is better than giving an unrelated answer to the interviewer’s question.
Try and avoid noticeable repetition of words. Try to widen the child’s vocabulary to ensure they demonstrate good vocabulary during the interview. Try to find synonyms for the adjectives you’ve learned at school.
Avoid short answers
Short answers seem like an excellent choice to keep your responses straight and to the point. But the answer might be too short that it doesn’t give the interviewer the response they are looking for. The best approach is the P.E.E (Point, Explanation, Evidence) approach.
Start by stating your answer, explaining why that is your answer and finally give an example to prove it. This gives a better and more rounded response with better information.
Give balanced answers
There is no right or wrong answer except in certain academic questions. You shouldn’t feel that it is necessary to choose a side. Instead, it’s better to talk through your logic and thought process arguing both sides.
Keep calm and relaxed
It’s important for the interviewee to remain calm and relaxed but not too relaxed to seem casual. The language doesn’t have to be overly formal. It can be a little relaxed with some informal language and slang. You can approach the interviewer as if you’re talking to your friend’s parent. A little more measured, more polite and slightly more focused.
Core 11 Plus Interview Questions
Now that you know what to expect at your 11 Plus interview, here are some of the questions that typically feature in most interviews;
- How do you like to spend time as a family?
- What is your favourite thing about your current school?
- Tell me about what you’re reading at the moment? What are your favourite and least favourite subjects?
- What interests would you like to pursue further at your new school?
Extension 11 Plus Interview Questions
Some schools have longer interviews that feature more questions. They will cover the questions above and might have some extension questions that follow like;
- What do you like to do in your free time
- How do you like to be remembered?
- What would you like to do in your adult life?
- How would your friends best describe you?
- What are you most proud of in this world?
The interview might also feature some academic questions like a poem, some mental math or another piece of work to test your skills.
Preparing for the 11+ exam is critical for the student. You need to start early because this can be a stressful period. Try to remain relaxed during the preparation and the interview sessions to stay as authentic as possible. The interview is a big deal, but you don’t need to make it bigger than it needs to be.