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11+ interview questions

It is becoming more common for independent and state-selected schools to use interviews as part of their selection process at 11+. For a child of 10 or 11 years old, this can be a daunting prospect. And just like the 11+ entrance exam, the 11+ interview needs preparation.

Putting your child through the 11+ without adequate preparation can make the experience stressful and traumatic, and can knock a child’s confidence badly. By preparing your child for the 11+, it gives them the best chance of success and ensures a positive learning experience.

This guide gives you everything you need to prepare well for the 11+ interview. It explains the 11+ interview process and its purpose, gives top tips on how to ace the 11+ interview and the type of 11+ interview questions your child may be asked.


Before preparing for the 11+ interview, it’s important to understand why your child is being interviewed and what the school is looking to assess. Of course, every school is different, with perhaps a different ethos or subject focus, but the reasons for the 11+ interviews are the same.

In a nutshell, the 11+ interview is an opportunity for the school to gauge a child’s confidence, social skills and interest in joining the school. The school is also assessing if your child is a suitable match for them. They want to know that your child will fit in academically and socially and exhibit behaviours that the school expects from its pupils.

They are looking for evidence that your child is intelligent, has critical thinking and problem-solving abilities, is committed to studying, participating in extracurricular activities, as well as having the confidence and the ability to talk well about a range of subjects.


The way in which your child presents themselves during the 11+ interview is just as important as the answers they give. First impressions count. Behaviour and conduct send strong signals to the interviewers about the child’s ability to act appropriately, contain their behaviour and perform under pressure.

Here are some simple yet important tips on how to present and conduct oneself in an 11+ interview:

1.) Dress appropriately in neat and tidy clothes, such as a smart school uniform or formal clothing.

2.) Arrive in plenty of time for the interview so your child is not rushed and flustered beforehand.

3.) Maintain good posture, try not to fidget (holding hands together in your lap is a good way to keep them from unconsciously moving around when nervous) and maintain a friendly, confident demeanour throughout the interview.

4.) Greet the interviewer(s) with a confident handshake while making eye contact and wait to be invited to sit down.

5.) Use positive body language, such as nodding and smiling, to convey engagement and enthusiasm.

6.) Speak clearly and confidently. If your child makes a mistake or gets flustered, they should simply acknowledge the error, correct themselves and continue.

7) Try to be relaxed, but not too casual – sit upright, and maintain eye contact and polite demeanour. Don’t use informal language or slang. Your child should imagine speaking to a friend’s parent and use the same tone.

If your child isn’t naturally very self-confident and tends to get restless, it is important to practice the interview setting with them, so that they can learn to keep eye contact and sit still whilst listening and responding to questions with confidence.

Working with a tuition agency like JK Educate is a great way to get focused tuition and expert advice in preparation for the 11+. Specialist tutors experienced in the 11+ can provide ‘insider knowledge’ on the 11+ and the selection process at specific state and independent schools. If you are able, seriously consider 11+ tuition for your child. Or perhaps sign your child up for the 11+ mock exam practice or 11+ mock interview practice to give them the best chance of success.


Interview styles differ from school to school. While most 11+ interviews use a 1:2 or 1:1 interview technique with one child and 1 or 2 interviewers, some schools interview children in groups of eight or ten, by asking them to engage in a group activity. Group interviews allow schools to evaluate a child’s social skills and ability to work effectively in a team.

Some schools ask the students to bring something with them to talk about, typically a favourite piece of work from Year 6 or some other personal item, and then base the interview around this. While others focus purely on asking a series of questions that are the same for each interviewee.

Whatever the style of interview employed, the way in which your child should answer 11+ questions is the same:

1.) Do your research about the school so you can show awareness of the school’s history, approach and achievements during the interview.

2.) Listen carefully to the question, take a moment to gather your thoughts, and then respond thoughtfully. There’s no need to rush.

3.) Clarify the question. If your child does not understand what is meant by a particular question, they should not feel embarrassed about clarifying, it is always better to do this than to answer a different question.

4.) Use clear and articulate language to express thoughts effectively. Try not to use repetitive language if possible, it helps to use a wide range of words that demonstrate a good vocabulary.

5.) Keep answers concise and focused, avoiding rambling or going off-topic. Equally, avoid one-word answers. Aim to provide thoughtful explanations that demonstrate understanding.

6.) Provide specific examples and experiences to support the answers given.

7.) Be prepared for follow-up questions and be ready to expand on answers if required.

8.) Be enthusiastic and convey keenness to join the school and contribute to the school’s community.


While it’s impossible to predict the exact questions that will be asked in an 11+ interview, there are common questions that come up time and again.

Here is a list of the types of questions asked in the 11+ interview. Spend time with your child preparing answers to these questions and practice the interview technique as much as possible before the big day.

General interview questions:

Tell us about yourself.
How do you manage your time between schoolwork and extracurricular activities?
Describe a challenging situation you faced and how you overcame it.
Who is your favourite author and why?
Name someone from history who you admire.

Academic questions:

What subjects do you enjoy the most, and why?
Which subjects do you find most challenging, and how do you cope with them?
Can you explain a topic you’ve recently studied in detail?
How do you approach problem-solving in Maths or other subjects?
Tell us about a school project you are particularly proud of.
Tell us about a piece of group work or teamwork you were involved in.

Questions on extracurricular interests & hobbies:

What hobbies or extracurricular activities are you involved in?
How do your hobbies or activities contribute to your personal growth?
Tell us about a project or activity you’ve undertaken outside of school.
What are your hobbies and interests?
What do you do in your spare time?
What do you typically do on a Saturday afternoon?

School and learning environment questions:

What do you like about your current school?
If you were a headteacher, what would you change at your current school?
Why do you want to attend this particular school?
How do you envision yourself contributing to the school community?
What type of learning environment do you prefer, and why?
Why do you want to come to this school?
What do you like about our school?

Questions on personal goals and aspirations:

What are your academic and career goals for the future?
How do you plan to achieve these goals?
What do you hope to gain from attending a new school?

Behavioural questions:

How do you handle challenges or setbacks in your studies?
How do you collaborate with peers in group projects?
Describe a situation where you showed leadership and initiative.

Abstract questions:

Is it important to be kind to people?
What would you do if you did not have to work when you are older?
What would you do if you won the lottery?
What is the biggest problem facing the world at the moment?
If you could be an animal, what would you choose to be and why?


Towards the end of the interview, students will usually be asked if they have any questions. It’s always good to prepare 1 or 2 questions for this section of the interview. Think of questions that you and your child genuinely want to know about the school, not what you think they want to hear. Example questions could be:

  • What extracurricular activities or clubs are available for students at the school?
  • How does the school support and encourage students to pursue their academic interests and passions?
  • How does the school foster a positive and inclusive learning environment?
  • I particularly enjoy X and X subjects, how does the school support students focusing on these subjects?
  • What makes this school so successful?


By preparing for the 11+ interview as well as the 11+ exam, you give your child the best chance of 11+ success. Turning the 11+ experience into a positive learning journey that bolsters their confidence and teaches them skills they will use throughout life.

To be fully prepared for the 11+ exam and interview, consider working with a tuition agency like JK Educate. JK Educate offers effective and targeted 11+ tutoring, including mock 11+ exam practice and mock 11+ interview practice.

The JK Educate 11+ tutoring includes:

  • A personalised teaching plan is created for each student based on their existing knowledge and what 11+ elements they are taught at school. The teaching plan is updated and evolves throughout your child’s journey so tutoring is targeted and effective.
  • Each student is carefully matched to an ideal individual 11+ tutor, based on learning style and personality. This is a key element in our students’ success stories.
  • Highly sought-after, experienced tutors who undergo a rigorous selection. Tutors are also trained in specific 11+ tutoring techniques and curriculum content by the unique JK Academy.
  • Unique JK 11+ teaching packs are regularly updated to reflect the ever-changing requirements of the 11+ exam boards and the individual schools’ entrance exam procedures.
  • All of JK’s private 11+ tutors are monitored by JK’s senior team throughout the entire 11+ tutoring journey, whether they are in-person or online 11+ tutors.
  • Parents receive regular, detailed feedback including their child’s progress against the agreed targets.
  • 11+ interview preparation sessions focus in detail on what schools are looking for and include opportunities for individual 1:1 interviews, group interviews and practical activities as well as a bespoke interview for a parent and a child.
  • Individual interview preparation sessions at times that best suit you.
  • Mock exam practice with exams that have been specifically written by 11+ experts, commissioned to reproduce the challenges and standards that will be tested in the 11+ selective secondary school exams.

At JK Educate, we have an outstanding success rate with our 11+ students, our recent cohort achieved a 97.4% pass rate in the 11+. This reflects the exceptional 11+ tutoring delivered by JK through our experienced and highly sought-after 11+ tutors combined with the unique JK learning materials.

To find out how we can support your child through the challenges and rewards of the 11+ get in touch with us today.


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