Sunday, 26 October 2014

Do you have the X-Factor? - My A to Z of #interview tips

Communication and interview skills are in much demand at this time of year. Whether for an up-coming senior school entry assessment day, for a place on your dream university course or to secure that perfect internship or job, many are facing the nerve-wracking interview panel.

Here is my A-Z of useful tips to support the preparation process

Answer concisely stating firstly your thoughts or opinion any then secondly why you think that way.

Body language- good posture shows that you are interested and enthusiastic.

Communicate with confidence without showing arrogance to give the best impression.

Dress smartly and appropriately for the potential job environment.

Eye contact with the interviewer is crucial.

Face should be clean-shaven or trim ‘designer stubble’ neatly to give the impression you take time to look after your appearance.

Give examples in discussion which show you are well-read and have relevant knowledge or experience.

Hand shake should be firm not vice-like or droopy.

Invitation letter should be read carefully to check if there is anything you need to bring or prepare in advance and be on time.

Join proactively in discussion stating relevant considered opinions, whilst also listening to the opinions of others. The ability to work and communicate within a team will be high on the priority list of the interview panel.

Know your strengths and weaknesses and be prepared to discuss both.

Listen to the questions carefully without interrupting so your answers are accurate and to the point.

Mock interviews are a good way to practice interview skills and techniques in advance.

Never criticise a past, current employer or those in authority-show diplomacy and discretion.

Opinions should be honest but not too extreme.

Pause before answering. It helps with nerves and allows thinking time.

Questions at the end the interview are your chance to show your enthusiasm, knowledge and commitment. Prepare some in advance and be prepared to engage in discussion.

Research the company, school or course and the interviewer beforehand, to appear knowledgeable and interested.

Smile often.

Think before you speak.

Undertake a review of your skills and experience as relevant to what you are applying to do. This enables you to go into the interview confident that you would be a capable asset to the organisation, school or university if successful.

Voice should be pitched at the right level to show a positive mood. Not too loud or so quiet it is hard for the interviewer to hear what you have to say.

Waffle should be avoided at all costs

X-factor-do you have it and why?

You are what is important - be yourself and try to relax.

Zealous enthusiasm for meeting goals set by new challenges will leave a lasting impression.

For support in preparing for interviews, please give us a call on 01865 522066 or visit our website

Friday, 10 October 2014

#Parents - why choose a #co-educational #school?

When talking about co-education, it’s tricky not to just state the blindingly obvious - we live in a co-ed world and youngsters must learn to thrive amongst colleagues and friends of both sexes. Education is not just about academic success. As importantly, it is about leaving school with the social skills and emotional intelligence to thrive in any environment.

Here are a few of the real benefits of a co-educational school.
  • A combination of the competitive nature of boys to perform as well as those around them and the girls’ often more conscientious attitude to work should be a winning formula for success, in both the classroom and independent study.
  • Class discussion brings diversity of opinion and encourages all to develop a rounded view.
  • Co-ed schools are all about breaking the mould and inspiring girls to aim for careers as engineers, politicians or to study the Sciences and boys to perhaps consider Music, PR or design.
  • Co-curricular programmes offer diversity of choice with girls having equal access to activities which may once have been the preserve of boys such as CCF, cricket, shooting or practical skills such as carpentry, car maintenance or metalwork.
  • Particularly with an only child or where parents are separated, mixed friendships or role models are less likely at home, so perhaps more important to experience at school.
  • Learning a responsible and trustworthy attitude towards inevitable temptation within co-ed peer relationships and social media banter is an important lesson for life
  • School should be about forming solid, supportive friendships for life. I can’t help wondering if it is a more relevant preparation for 21st century life, for these to be with both boys and girls, giving a balanced perspective. Maybe girls bring focus, drive and determination for academic success and boys bring more of an easy-going, calm perspective.

For advice on choosing the right school for your child, please call us on 01865 522066 or email

For information about our services visit our website Independent Education Consultants

Friday, 3 October 2014

#Parents, are you confused about senior #school choices?

At this time of year many parents are braving the minefield of researching senior school choices as their child approaches age 11 or 13. Trawling through copious websites, glossy literature and visiting open days- the plethora of information bombarding parents makes this process tricky. As time goes on the fog of confusion seems to thicken and the prospect of arriving at a decision seems further and further away.

Here are my top 10 tips to help parents to come to the right decision and perhaps more importantly to stick to it!
  1. Keep dinner party banter in perspective. Remember there is no one best school that suits all children equally. Treat your child as an individual and form your own judgement as to what feels right for them.
  2. Realistically, how bright is your child? You will need a school to stretch and challenge their capabilities, but not to such an extent that they are struggling to keep their head above water.
  3. What are their interests, strengths and are there areas of potential weakness needing additional support?
  4. Are you looking at state schools or might you be in a financial position to consider independent education?
  5. What location works best in relation to home and work commitments of both parents? Investigate bus routes, lift shares with local families or ability to walk to school.
  6. If you plan to invest in private education have you considered weekly or full-boarding to extend your school options? Particularly if both parents’ work, this can be a practical solution where everyone wr=orks hard in the week and enjoys quality fmil time at the weekends.
  7. How do you feel about single sex versus co-ed?
  8. Depending on your current school leaving age, when will it best suit your child to move?
  9. Are you looking for a traditional, structured environment or a more informal one? Will their character suit a large, competitive environment or small and nurturing?
  10. How do you feel about siblings attending different schools if they have different interests, capabilities and character?

 For advice on choosing the right school please give our team of friendly consultants a call  on 01865 522066 or email