School Interview Questions And Tips In Hong Kong

Primary School, Secondary School, And International School Tips

Primary School And InternatioSchool Interview Questions

Hello, Parents! Interview time is officially here. Parents who are new and old to Hong Kong are often surprised by the lack of school places but more surprised by the fact that interviews exist for children as young as 3 years old. This handy guide to interviewing questions and tips in Hong Kong offers insight into what children are tested on and how parents can help their children prepare for the interview. Highlights:

  • Tips and questions for parents with primary school children going into interviews in Hong Kong P1 and up!
  • General international school interview questions and tips – from ESF to CIS

    It's hard for moms and dads to know exactly what goes on in these interviews, but most interviews are similar to a mini class with 6-8 children engaging in group activities conducted by 2-3 teachers.

    1.  Understanding Simple Instructions:  The most important aspect of an interview is the child’s ability to understand and follow simple instructions. The teachers check the lateral thinking ability of the child along with the manner that he responds to difficulty and his/her confidence level. Parents need to understand that these are behavioral attributes and not chapters.

    2.  Response & Communication:  During the interview, a teacher will often toss a question out to the group of children to see who will respond. Some kids will be quiet, while others will be very excited trying to get their answer heard. Children are of course asked their names, in some cases they are asked about their family members, where they live, when their birthday is and the teacher often asks about the puzzle or activity they are playing with.

    3.  Phonics:  For primary level; children are often tested on phonics, numbers and reading skills. For all grades at international schools in Hong Kong; fluency in English is a must and a child must demonstrate strong oral skills.


    1. DO:  Focus on his/her interactive skills and help teach them to be relaxed in various situations.
    2. DO:  Help your child to express and use responses as clues on areas of his fears and worries. Once they are adequately dealt with, the patience and confidence automatically soar.
    3. DO:  Look into practice sessions if you feel it will help.  Interview practice lessons are held at various tuition centers around Hong Kong.
    4. DON'T:  Bombard your child with lots of interview practice sessions before the interview as their effect will be limited. Experienced interviewing teachers always see through robotic preparation.
    5. DO:  Expose them to activities they will see on the interview day.  This could include listening to stories and talking about the story, using picture cards to map out a story, or drawing a picture of a special day.
    6. DO:  Instill "etiquette" with your kids.  Children are expected to formally greet the teachers, thank the teachers at the end of the interview. During the interview talk to the teacher while looking her in the eye, and at the end say ‘thank you’ and ‘goodbye’. Some International schools take this social aspect of the interview quite seriously.
    7. DON'T:  Let your child feel the pressure you are going through. There is no way your child can understand that the interview requires high performance or that passing the interview means being offered a school place, so constant advice about speaking clearly or answering in length sentences could have a negative effect.  The best advice I can give you is to encourage your child to be friendly and as cooperative as possible with the teachers and other children who they will meet. In a child’s world, this equates to ‘be good’ ‘be nice’ and ‘play with other children.’ During the interview, this will take your child far.

    Paperwork:  Make sure that you have whatever paperwork has been requested and arrive in good time.

    Arrive Early:   A panicked journey could completely throw a young child, so start your journey early.

    Good Luck:  When it comes to the point when your child has to disappear to another classroom, wish them luck, tell them you’ll see them shortly and to play happily with the other children and do what the teachers ask them to do.

    Be Proud Mom and Dad:  When they come back to you, give them a big hug and tell them you are incredibly proud of them.


    - Thank You:  The day after your child’s interview, follow-up with a ‘thank you’ e-mail to the admissions officer similar to an adult’s interview you must show a keen interest in being offered a place.

    - How Long, What's Next?  Most schools will take about 3 months to inform all parents from the start of the interviews. If your child is interviewed in late December; you may still have to wait till late March for an answer. If your child does gain a place at the school of your choice, then you can breathe a sigh of relief. Some children, even if they pass the admissions test, might be placed on a waiting list because other children would have a higher priority. If your child is not accepted, seek some feedback from the school, re-evaluate what is best for your child, and talk to other parents or professional educators about possible options.

    - Don't Worry:  Lastly, don’t feel you are a bad parent if your child is not offered a space.  Children are offered spaces for various reasons but most of all because they are suitable for school. A school will not accept a child that will struggle or find the school’s program academically challenging. There is a suitable school out there for all children.

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