Prepping Your Child for the Interview

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What will the school look for? After all, your little one is only 5 years old and has no experience with interviews.

Should Junior know how to read, write, multiply? The neighbor’s kid is a musical prodigy, should you sign up your child for music lessons? Or hire a tutor? To help you and your child prep for the interview, we talked to ‘Iolani’s admissions director, Kelly Monaco.

“All schools are looking to see if the child and the school are a good match,” says Monaco. “That being said, there are mainly two kinds of testing: readiness and aptitude.”   

Readiness looks at skills and behaviors that kindergartners are expected to have. But don’t believe the rumor mill: no school will expect your child to read Dickens or even Dr. Seuss.

“At ‘Iolani, for example, we look at the child’s ability to listen to directions and focus, among other things. We also take note of pro-social behavior like sharing or listening to others,” says Monaco.

Aptitude assessments, on the other hand, gauge a child’s learning potential and problem solving abilities. Admissions directors who opt for this method will pay special attention to your child’s ability to focus and his or her verbal skills. Since this type of testing is done one on one, be sure your child is comfortable speaking with an adult.

Regardless of the type of assessment your child encounters, we compiled a list to help your child with the interview.


1.  Read to your child, as this helps build imagination and vocabulary.

2.  Ask lots of questions and let your child respond. This builds communication skills.

3.  Be sure to explain to your child what will happen during the interview. Try to avoid the word “test” as your child may have heard older siblings complain about hard tests, warns HAIS associate director Roberta Bishop.

4.  On interview day, don’t overdress your child in uncomfortable shoes or clothes. Opt for something familiar.

5.  The day of the interview, be sure your child eats a good breakfast.