How to Prepare for International Student Interviews


The interview with your international student is likely to be the most important and informative part of the student’s application process.

And just as the student will be preparing for his or her interview with you, there are steps you should take to prepare yourself to conduct it.

Regardless of whether your interview will take place in-person or via live video streaming online, all interviews will be scheduled at least 48 hours in advance, allowing you time to review important materials.

When your interview is scheduled, Cambridge Network will send you an email with all pertinent information about the student. That email will contain the student’s completed application, which includes:

  • Basic student information (name, age, etc.)
  • A scan of the student’s passport
  • Academic transcripts or grade reports
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Any supplemental material for that student

As we’ve covered in the previous post, transcripts, and letters of recommendation are not necessarily reliable indicators of a student’s skills and abilities. However, you should still review them before you speak with the student.

Reviewing the Application

You should be sure to review the application before you conduct the interview. Look to information the student has provided about their hobbies, hometown, previous classes and other personal items to craft questions that will help you get the student to open up to you.

Similarly, you should look to the application to help you craft academic questions to help assess where the student’s strengths and weaknesses are.

Reviewing English Proficiency Tests

The most common English proficiency tests for secondary schools are iTEP SLATE, TOEFL,  TOEFL Jr., ELTiS, and IELTS. If your school also accepts TOEFL scores, it’s important to note that this test is intended for college admissions or high-tier boarding schools, instead of standard high school admissions. As such, the content is generally harder for high school students to take and understand. TOEFL Jr. has content that is better suited for most high schools.

Because this student has been scheduled for an interview, it’s already been determined that he or she has met your school’s minimum score requirement. If you are unhappy with the English abilities of your prospective students, you may want to raise your minimum requirement for the proceeding recruiting season.

Many tests come with evaluation sheets that break down the results by the student’s written and speaking abilities, and then further into how strong they are in specific skills like grammar, and conjugations. You should look closely at the reports to help you understand the student’s strengths and weaknesses and use this information can help you craft questions to verify the test’s assessment. Here’s an example of the scoring breakdown for the iTEP SLATE standard test.

Reviewing Transcripts and Credit Hours

There is really no best way to convert credit hours from one school to another. While this is the case for US schools, it’s even more so among international schools.

It’s important to evaluate how many credits the student will be transferring, to what grade level the student is applying, and what the student’s current age is. If you are concerned that the student may not have the necessary number of credit hours for their preferred grade, you may offer the student a place in the grade below and explain your decision. Similarly, you may have to address whether or not you think a student will be able to graduate by your school’s maximum age, if applicable.

The Importance of the Passport Photo

While the vast majority of international students are well-meaning and genuinely intend to do their best, the competitiveness of the application process can encourage some students or parents to make poor decisions. Unfortunately, falsification of transcripts and ghostwritten essays and applications are not altogether uncommon.

Similarly, we provide the passport photo of the student to verify that the student you are meeting in person or online is the same person that is applying to your school. Hiring someone else to sit through an interview for them is not an overly common practice, but it’s not at all unheard of either, so it’s best to be prepared.

For information about how to conduct the interview, be sure to read our next post in the series: “How to Interview International and Exchange Students”.