Advice from 28 Years of Interviewing Students and Families

The Art of InterviewingSt. Mark’s School (MA) (view profile), Director of Admission, Anne Behnke, shares some thoughts on the interview process for colleagues and families in her first post for the SSATB ALC Blog, “The Art of Interviewing.”

I like her candor.

She confesses to good and bad days; to the anxieties of the interviewer, the prospective student and the family; and, most importantly, I think, to the effect that the admission professional has on the process.

Her advice to admission professionals does two things:

  1. Provides a framework through which admission officers can consider and refine their interviews.
  2. For any prospective families who read this post and/or her work, it gives families and understanding of how the school and admission officers think.

And, a third, larger thought, Behnke’s suggestions can reduce the anxiety of everyone in the interview room.

A few of my favorite Behnke admission officer tips:

When speaking with the student:

  • Help students relax and provide an environment in which they feel safe
  • Be a good listener
  • Never get trapped into speaking negatively about another school
  • Help them imagine themselves at your school
  • Do NOT assume you will connect with every student and do NOT assume every interview will be perfect

When speaking with the parent(s):

  • Ask questions about their child’s learning style
  • Know and communicate what makes a student successful at your school
  • You need to set the tone for the interview
  • Be clear about what you offer and don’t make your school fit the child

For the admission officer:

  • Don’t sit behind your desk
  • Do turn your phone off
  • HAVE FUN!!!

I like her goal of removing the anxiety and secrecy and making the interview a warmer and more productive process. After all, the admission process should not be opaque or adversarial; it should be about the best fit between student and school.

About the Author
Brian Fisher

A product of both private and public education, Brian Fisher served as a teacher, coach, dorm parent, and administrator at three different boarding schools. Brian also fills the role of Director of Development at Wolfeboro, The Summer Boarding School, in NH along with being a partner at AdmissionsQuest.

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