We realize that face-to-face interviews can be quite nerve-racking for some people, but we would like you to bear in mind that they are only one part of the selection process. To give you a better idea of the interview experience, we asked our last year’s winners – Krzysztof and Paulina, as well as the judging panel – Ola, Ania and Cezary, a couple of questions.
How did you prepare for the interviews?
Krzysztof Macierzanka: I believe that practice makes perfect – and so I practised these interviews with family members. This helped me realise how short 15 minutes is and that I shouldn’t stress about not having enough to say.
Paulina Łajkowska: To be honest, I did not prepare for them that much. I just carefully read my application form and wrote down a couple of motivational quotes saying ’You can do it’.
What kind of questions were you asked in the interviews? Were they mainly based on the application form?
K: Of course some questions had to be based on my application as the things that I declared had to be verified but this certainly wasn’t the main focus of the interviews. The questions were designed to assess my thought process and were, frankly, sometimes quite surprising. It is important to think aloud!
P: At the beginning of the interview, there were a couple of questions based strictly on my application form. After that, the interview turned more into a conversation in which both questions and topics varied widely. There is no way to predict the questions, so the best you could do is read your application carefully one more time to make sure you can comment on your responses.
Apart from the interview, how did you enjoy the overall experience on the day?
K: I must say that I was quite stressed throughout the whole day but I really enjoyed being in a completely new scenario and tackling it head-on.
P: I had my interview very early in the morning, so afterwards I had plenty of time to meet new inspiring people! I think it is very important not to analyze and overthink what you did or didn’t say during the interview, just enjoy this valuable experience and make new friends.
Do you have any final tips for this year’s finalists?
K: I would say that it is necessary to remember that, whatever the outcome, this is an extremely valuable experience. Who else at the age of 15/16 can say that they took part in one or two such high stake interviews? Remember to showcase your passion and set yourself up positively for the whole day!
P: Do not stress out! Not only can it spoil your overall impression of this wonderful day, but also negatively impact your interview. Just be yourself and remember that there are still many opportunities ahead of you.
What makes a successful interview in your opinion?
Ola Wittchen: A successful interview is when the candidate can really grasp our attention. Of course on the day of the interview, everyone is stressed but candidates just really need to be themselves and show us that they are interesting people. It is best when the conversation can just run smoothly.
Ania Olech: I’m looking for honest, genuine conversations – we know you and your achievements on paper; what we really want is to meet you in person.
Cezary Łastowski: The best candidates are those who not only excel at school and do something interesting in their spare time, but are also passionate about what they do.
How important is the candidate’s fluency in spoken English? Did it affect your decision in any way?
O: It is important to be able to communicate clearly because ultimately the candidate needs to speak English well enough to study in this language.
A: You need to be able to communicate with confidence. Fluency – don’t worry, you will pick it up later.
C: Successful candidates will be studying all their subjects in English, and thus proficiency in this language is of paramount importance. Having said that, we understand that English is normally not the 1st language for many candidates and an interview is a stressful experience. If you forget a word, it’s fine to say it in Polish.
How do you come up with the questions? Are they the same for everyone or do you tailor them based on the application form?
O: Some general questions might be the same for everyone but I would say that we aim to extract the most interesting things out of the candidate’s application and then just expand on those topics in conversation. We also want to ask questions that cannot be answered simply in order to see in what ways the candidate is willing to explore a problem.
A: We prepare a broad set of general questions to kick off with, but during the interview, we are flexible and go with the flow.
C: We use questions that allow us to get to know you as a person and understand your motivations – what made you apply to Cambridge cLASs and why you want to study at Leysin American School. As you may expect these questions will be touching the same topics. However, every candidate is asked a unique set of questions, depending on what they have written in the application and what comes up during the interview.
Do you have any final tips for this year’s finalists?
O: Just be yourself!
A: Get ready for those brain teasers.
C: Do your research, show your passion, engage in a conversation with us (although it might not seem that way when you are sitting at an interview, we are here to help you), and relax – you are far more convincing when speaking freely.