Admissions Ghost Writer – 10 Tips for Leaving a Good Impression at an Independent School Interview

We have many themes leading into our diversity recruitment event, Sunday, October 6, like:

  • Awareness, Application, Access
  • Luck favors the Prepared
  • RIISE Lifestyle
  • Straight, no Chaser!

But there is one blog that really captures the theme, Straight No Chaser. Not for the faint of heart, and certainly not meant to offend. Take what you can from it. It comes from experience and is sent with love from our admissions ghost writer.

Ten Tips for Leaving a Good Impression at an Independent School Interview

1. Remember to turn off your cell phone and do not use it during your interview or tour. A ringing cell phone or texting is disruptive and using it during a discussion or tour gives the impression that you are not interested and impolite.

2. Be prompt for the interview. You have heard this before but it is worth repeating. I’ve heard Caucasian folks who consider themselves ‘in the know’ reference “CP time” in response to people of color arriving late for the interview. Let’s make every effort to eliminate the existing stereotypes about us as we put our best foot forward. Besides, arriving on time allows you to settle into each interview with ease and composure.

3. Be confident. Act like you believe that you belong in that school.

4. Dress for an interview. It is important for both the parents and the child to be dressed appropriately. Remember to forgo wearing jeans on this day. I was once horrified to see way too much backside from a parent wearing jeans who was simply reaching for a cup of coffee. You want to dress comfortably in attire that shows that you take the interview process seriously. Believe me, even when a school tells you that there isn’t a parent interview, your attire and overall conduct is evaluated, as it would be in a job interview.

5. Prepare your child for the interview. Inform your child that he or she will be asked general questions about themselves so they can answer such questions readily and with confidence. Remind your child to smile and make eye contact as much as possible when speaking to the interviewer. Conducting a mock interview with a your child at home, asking general questions, will help your child to present him or herself better during the interview.

6. Do your homework and prepare yourself. Read about the school before your visit. You don’t want to appear totally ignorant about the school you are visiting – i.e. “What? No uniforms?” or “Do kids get skipped a grade if they’re advanced?” Some of your questions should clarify or deepen your understanding of what you’ve already learned about a particular school before your visit.

7. Write a brief thank you note to the tour guide or Director of Admissions after the interview to express your gratitude for the interview and/or tour. Briefly mention what impressed you about the school and if appropriate, express whether the school is your first choice among other schools. Doing so signals to an Admissions team that you are serious about their school.

8. If a two parent household, and if possible, both parents should attend the interview and tour. You will leave a better impression on with Admissions team if they see a happy, intact family with both parents present for the interview.

9. Be gracious and friendly. Smile and be willing to make small talk. You will appear more confident and personable.

10. Be open-minded. Think of ‘diversity’ in ways other than race. Don’t be scared away by what may seem to be a lack of diversity in the school you are visiting. Look beyond the trappings and the sea of faces in the environment. Ask for specific examples of how a school works toward encouraging and retaining diversity within its school. A school may demonstrate its commitment to diversity in various ways (e.g. providing generous financial aid packages, welcoming various ethnicities, supporting affinity clubs, special programs, etc). Then determine whether the school is a good match for your family.

Final Opinion: Until we are truly judged as individuals by the content of our character (in the words of Dr. King), you represent all people of color during these interviews. It is an unofficial and unfair burden, but make no mistake, that’s just the way it is. Your conduct and actions can reinforce existing stereotypes or help to disprove them. So be on time, prepared and gracious. Good luck and shine brightly!



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