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Interview Formats
1: Pre-School
At pre-school interviews (age 2years or so), some schools will allow parents/guardians to accompany their child to the interview. However, this is not always the case!

In general, interviews for these young students comprise simple questions about themselves, for example:

  • What is your name?
  • How old are you?
  • Who do you live with?
  • Do you have brothers and sisters?
  • What is your favorite toy?
  • What do you like to do?
  • Basic life-skills such as identifying colors, shapes, and objects depicted on images
  • Counting

Overall, the emphasis is on getting the child to talk and display their level of (English) comprehension.

A big factor seems to be confidence. Confident and vocal children seem to be more successful than shy, quiet children. Moreover, children that have obviously been prepped are not going to succeed either. So it’s a bit of a balancing act to get your quiet child to be vocal enough to be heard but not to seem rehearsed.
2: Lower Primary
For lower primary school students (up to around 7 years), interviews become a little bit more conversational. Children are expected to be able to explain their thoughts coherently. Some topics that may be covered include:

  • Reasons why they are interviewing at that particular school
  • Likes about their current school
  • Favorite subjects (and why)
  • Favorite or most recent books they have read
  • A description of their family life
  • Expected activities during interview: reading words or passages, doing simple arithmetic, writing, and/or drawing

Manners are important. A well-mannered child who is able to greet properly and say farewell properly is going to be much more impressive than a child who says nothing.
3: Upper Primary
At the upper primary levels, apart from conversational interviews to see how they child communicates and organizes their thoughts, some schools start more formal and standardized testing.

For example, at Hong Kong International School, the ISEE test is used as part of their assessment. The ISEE comprises five parts: verbal reasoning, quantitative reasoning, reading comprehension, mathematics achievement, and an essay.

Note that not all schools administer this test, and those that do, may change the format to suit their particular needs.
4: Secondary
The assessment at the secondary levels almost always include formal testing of individual subjects. Some schools rely primarily on these test scores (and previous academic records), with little or no personal interview sessions. Other schools also include interviews, and group-work, or challenges.