The 11+ Interview Process
There has been a recent shift in what is expected at the interview process for 11+ examinations. Schools are no longer basing their interview on the usual one-to-one interview with questions such as What is your favourite subject? and Why do you want to come to this school? Instead they have moved towards a more creative interview process. One of the reasons for this, is the idea that this new method cannot be rehearsed and tutored for and we entirely understand and support this view. It is completely pointless conducting interviews where children are regurgitating rote-learned answers to questions. Schools want to see the real child, not what their tutor has taught them to say! It’s about showing the child’s personality through thought-provoking, creative tasks where the real child’s personality and lateral thinking is exposed. The school is looking to see whether your child is the right match for the school; that they will fit in both academically and socially to the school in question.
Interviews may include some or any of the following:
- General questions about your child and your family.
E.g. What three words would you use to describe yourself?
- Questions about your child and his/her school.
E.g. If I were to look through your exercise book at school, what would I see?
- Questions relating to the interviewer’s school.
E.g. What will you contribute to this school?
- Questions relating to current affairs and topical issues.
E.g. What story in the news in the past few months has really caught your attention and why?
- Questions that encourage your child to think about unusual or complex ideas on the spot.
E.g. Whose face would you put on a £10 note and why?
- Higher order thinking / moral / ethical / dilemma-based questions.
E.g. Should we all become vegan to reduce carbon emissions and habitat destruction caused by meat production?
- Asking your child to explain how something works.
- Asking your child to read a passage or a poem and discuss it.
- Looking at an image and discussing it.
- Answering mental maths questions.
- Asking your child if they have any questions!
- A prepared presentation about a topic of their choice to present to a small group.
And then there may be a creative task. Many schools are now opting for this alongside the usual 1:1 interview process or as a standalone task. These are often group tasks where the school is looking for teamwork, how your child involves himself/herself within the group and how they contribute. They are designed to be fun, to get your child to think outside-the-box and to exhibit skills that cannot be seen in a more formal face-to-face interview. The task might be a situation where children must take a role amongst the group and complete certain tasks relating to that role. It may also involve a small presentation as a group at the end of the task. Tasks may relate to topical issues, may include debate and discussion as well as planning and preparation. It is almost impossible to prepare for this type of task, however, at home there are various ways in which you can ensure the task might not be so daunting on the day. Encourage discussion on your way to school or at the dinner table about current issues that are at the forefront of our society today. Ask questions like What would you do if you were the local Mayor to combat graffiti in your town? What would you do if you were Prime Minister to help with climate change?