12 Admissions Interview Questions To Ask Prospective Students and Families

interview pannel with student asking private school interview questions

Interviews are arguably the most important step in the admissions process. Transcripts, test scores, essays, surveys, and other application materials provide a useful overview of a candidate’s academic capabilities. But interviews, and specifically the interview questions you ask at your private school, give you insight into a potential student’s personality, interests, values, and personal goals. These conversations allow you to build a rapport with candidates and their families. It also gives them an opportunity to learn what your school can offer.

Interviews also give your admissions team much deeper knowledge of the related messaging to use with these candidates during the rest of the admissions process which can help you engage in lead nurturing. This in turn will increase their probability to enroll if accepted. 

Of course, the amount of information you can glean and the impression you leave on prospective students depends on the quality of your private school’s interview questions. If you’re still relying on the same questions your department has used for years, then it may be time to switch things up.

Here are several private school interview questions you should begin asking candidates to improve your interview process:

12 of the Best Admissions Interview Questions for Your Private School

To ensure you’re learning as much as possible about a candidate before you make your admissions decisions, consider including these K-12 admissions interview questions.

1. What are your three favorite things about yourself?

It’s essential to give candidates a chance to share things that make them feel good about themselves. Moreover, this question will help you learn a lot about their personality. For example, if a student says they like that they’re a good friend, it indicates they’re social and invested in their relationships.

2. What are three things you’d like to improve upon?

Asking this question is useful for gauging a candidate’s level of self-awareness. While it’s never easy to admit shortcomings, students who can acknowledge their areas of opportunity are likely to dedicate energy to making necessary improvements.

3. What do you do when you’re having a hard time in a subject?

This question will help you assess a prospective student’s problem-solving skills and dedication to self-improvement.  

4. How do you like to spend your free time?

Asking about students’ interests helps you determine whether your school can meet them, and also gives you an opportunity to discuss extracurriculars. For example, if a student loves to draw and your school has an active art club, this could be a key selling point.

5. What would you like to accomplish during your time in school?

It’s crucial you ask about prospective students’ goals so you can identify whether those objectives align with what your school can offer. It also gives you a chance to help the candidate make connections. For example, if a student wants to perform in a play, you could make a note to introduce them to your drama department leader later in their campus visit.

6. What made you choose to apply to this school?

This parent-focused question will help you learn more about what appeals to the candidate’s family, how much they already know about your school, and why they feel their child’s talents and interests align with the school.

7. What other schools are you considering?

Finding out what other schools families are considering can help you understand your competitive position. You can ask if they have met with those schools yet, and what things they liked or felt were missing. If your desire is for true relationship, you can also recommend other schools to visit based on their answers. 

8. What are your plans for the remainder of your child’s K-12 education?

Alternatively, you may want to ask “what is most important to you now when it comes to educating your child?” And “how do you see that changing as they enter elementary school, middle school, or high school?” Be sure to find out from parents whether they’re looking for a permanent school. Asking this question will also open up conversations about preparing for post-secondary education. If you’re concerned about parents enrolling their children for preschool who plan to enroll their children in public schools later, these are great questions to ask. Families who plan on leaving can hurt retention rates. Based on their answers, you can see if their vision matches what you are offering. And if you know a family will leave, you can use that data in your admissions decision.

9. What is one achievement that makes you proud?

This question gives prospective students a chance to talk about a personal success, but it also helps you understand what’s most important to them. For example, if they discuss getting a good grade in a class in which they previously struggled, it suggests they’re driven to overcome challenges. 

10. Who is someone you admire or look up to, and why?

Asking this interview question will help you discern which qualities a candidate appreciates in others. It can also show the kinds of traits they want to develop within themselves.

11. What would you do if someone asked to copy your homework?

Asking moral and ethical questions, like this one, will help you learn more about how a prospective student approaches difficult situations. It also provides clues about their character.  

12. What questions do you have for us?

Never end an interview without giving both the candidate and their family members a chance to ask their own questions. They’re likely just as interested in learning about your school as you are in getting to know them.

Student being interviewed at private school

While all of these private school interview questions can help you learn more about each candidate and family before you make your decision, you should also consider which member of the family the questions should be directed at. For example, you’ll probably ask more difficult or long-term questions to the parent(s) of an elementary aged student. However, high school students can likely answer all of the interview questions on their own.

We’ve broken down the questions by age group to help you think through which interview questions you should ask to each participant, whether that be a parent or the student. 

Questions to Ask Pre-K Through Early Elementary Families

When interviewing younger prospective students, you may want to ask long-term questions to a parent. However, you should still aim to get to know the student on a personal level. Asking a few personality or opinion questions to younger students can help them feel heard and understood, and help you get to know them, without overwhelming them.

Parents:

  • What made you choose to apply to this school?
  • What other schools are you considering?
  • What are your plans for the remainder of your child’s K-12 education?
  • What is the most important to you now when it comes to educating your child? How do you see that changing as they enter elementary/middle school?
  • What questions do you have for us?

Students:

  • What are your three favorite things about yourself?
  • What do you do when you’re having a hard time in a subject?
  • Who is someone you admire or look up to, and why?
  • How do you like to spend your free time?

elementary kids

Questions to Ask Upper Elementary to Middle School Families

As prospective students get older, they will be able to answer more difficult questions. However, you may still want to ask a few long-term questions to a parent.

Parents:

  • What made you choose to apply to this school?
  • What other schools are you considering?
  • What are your plans for the remainder of your child’s K-12 education?
  • What is the most important to you now when it comes to educating your child? How do you see that changing as they enter middle/high school?
  • What questions do you have for us?

Students:

  • What are your three favorite things about yourself?
  • What do you do when you’re having a hard time in a subject?
  • How do you like to spend your free time?
  • What is one achievement that makes you feel proud?
  • Who is someone you admire or look up to, and why?
  • What would you do if someone asked to copy your homework?
  • What questions do you have for us?

high school girls at school

Questions to Ask High School Students

Most high school students can handle all of the interview questions on their own. It’s important to talk with them directly and openly to show them you trust and respect their opinion and answers.

  • What are your three favorite things about yourself?
  • What are three things you’d like to improve upon?
  • How do you like to spend your free time?
  • What would you like to accomplish during your time in school?
  • What made you choose to apply to this school?
  • What other schools are you considering?
  • What is one achievement that makes you feel proud?
  • Who is someone you admire or look up to, and why?
  • What would you do if someone asked to copy your homework?
  • What questions do you have for us?

Interviews are a critical piece of the admissions process, and the information you discover during these conversations will help you determine whether or not a candidate is the right fit. By asking these interview questions at your private school you can ensure you’re making the most informed decision possible.


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