Barry Perlstein, my awesome husband, takes a few minutes to answer my questions about his perspective on parent interviews. Together, we’ve survived eight parent interviews for kindergarten and secondary school. Some were great, others were just ok and one was really awful– I write about it in Beyond The Brochure.
Christina: What’s the best analogy for parent interviews?
Barry: Meeting your in-laws for the first time. Your goal is to do no harm!
Christina: Were admissions directors what you expected?
Barry: Yes and no. Some lacked basic interview and social skills. Then it falls on you to carry the interview and to make sure you tell them about your kid.
Christina: What question most surprised you?
Barry: The schools where it seemed like they were reading from a checklist of questions. It was obvious they were just looking for red flags or deal breakers but not interested in getting to know us.
Christina: What information did you feel was most important to share?
Barry: Give a feel for who your kid is that might not come through in the written application. Use specific anecdotes!
Christina: Were you nervous about what to wear?
Barry: No. I wore business casual. Do no harm!
Christina: Did the admissions director’s personality influence your view of school?
Barry: Yes. They set the tone and are one of the first points of contact.
Christina: Are admissions directors forthcoming about what they are looking for?
Barry: No. They don’t give insight into who gets in or how they build their student body. They will only answer questions about curriculum and general questions about the school.
Christina: Can you leave an interview knowing if your kid got in?
Barry: Not really. But you can often tell when things did not go well. It’s hard to read the tea leaves in these interviews.
Christina: There’s an admissions official at a super-popular K-6 school who I’ve heard keeps falling asleep during parent interviews. What would you do if that happened?
Barry: That’s rude and unprofessional. I’d ask for another parent interview.
Christina: Any other words of advice?
Barry: Be yourself. Try not to be nervous. Ask questions, but keep them positive. Don’t criticize the school. Make sure you have a “softball” question ready to ask…something that compliments the school to let them know you’re interested and have done your homework about that specific school.
Thanks for answering my questions!
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