How to crack the St Stephens Interview

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St Stephens is the only college in the University that admits its students based on an interview. This interview may or may not be after an entrance test.

Arts-based courses certainly have an entrance prior to the interviews. The weightage given to the interview is 10%. The entrance has a weightage of 5% and the BFs carry 85% weightage in terms of admissions.

Be wise, they are not searching for your knowledge of the subject, of course, you need to have a certain amount of knowledge but it’s not primary. What they seek is your confidence, your character and your personality. The part that shows your Stephanian spirit. The quality in you that showcases your ability to fit into the culture that Stephens portrays. The fact that you can be a Stephanian out in the world after three years is what they want to find in you. They are looking for that spark or character rather than a know it all. Knowledge is abundant in all those who have cleared the cutoff but not all have the X factor.

All you have to make sure is that you present the best version of yourself in the 20 minutes of time that you sit in front of the Panel.

What is it that makes you different? your personality, your confidence, your understanding and your maturity. How capable a person you are? Diana Oommen who cleared the interviews for English, History and Philosophy in St Stephens and is now a Philosophy student shares her experience “When I was asked my opinion on the Medieval history of India during the Mughal period, I gave the panel an answer that was incorrect, the teacher corrected me stating that it’s not the right answer. ” My response was that even if my answer is wrong I am here today to correct myself. I have been able to learn this from you and thank you for telling me that this is the case and not the way I thought of it” The Panel was impressed by her answer. Thus, your ability to handle a situation calmly without being argumentative or aggressive is a quality that they seek she says.

Here are a few pointers to keep in mind as you approach your interview

  1. The candidate receives a call letter from the college. It is also a formal invitation to attend the interviews. If you have received one, then congratulations! Your SOP (statement of Purpose) has surely left an impression. You must keep the dates in mind. Also, do read the college prospectus carefully as the college tends to make changes in their admission procedures annually.
  2. Based on the courses you have applied for, you would have to prepare yourself. Here your SOP plays a very vital role. It becomes central to the way your interview might proceed, the information provided in your SOP gives out to the panellist, the kind of person you are. Thus, your interview may be on the lines of how you have presented yourself. For example: If you have mentioned a certain book that you like in your SOP for English Honours. You should have read it thoroughly enough to be able to answer questions on the same if asked.
  3. If you have applied to the college on the basis of quota, then you must carry original and photocopied relevant documents without fail. Make sure you double check your file so that you have everything at hand. The prospectus gives you clear instructions for the documents you need to have. *YOU MUST NOT FORGET YOUR CALL LETTER* Time is the essence if you are not aware of the nearby places you might get lost and thus, It is fundamental to have a clear understanding of the route you plan to take to reach the college. It is advised that you carry additional photocopies and passport size photographs along with a pen, glue and whitener.
  4. Dress to impress: You cannot compromise on your appearance, Men must wear light coloured formal shirts, Formal pants and black or brown formal shoes. Women should prefer western or Indian formals and semi-formals. There have been instances where candidates in shorts and casuals have been turned away! Try to avoid Jeans, T-Shirts, Sneakers etcetera. It is advised to not colour your hair during the interview dates.
  5. The entrance test for arts mainly examines your analytical skills, your writing style and your ability to express. It gives the panellist, who will have your paper at hand during the interview, an opportunity to form an opinion of your thought process. They might ask you the reasons for writing certain things in the entrance, be attentive to your answers. Be calm so that you do not forget what you wrote.
  6. The interviews are based on hourly slots. If you are lucky it might happen very early, if not then try to relax, listening to some music, going through your SOPs or (if you are a Christian) going through the bible would help. Based on the number allotted you would be made to sit in a line. It’s here that you meet many of your future batch mates. Carry certificates along, in case you have won various awards and prizes. That is always a plus.
  7. The key to a good impression of your personality is to be balanced in your presentation. If you sound too confident it is not a good sign. Basic etiquettes are definitely an add on. The interview happens in the principal’s office. The office is a huge space. It might seem intimidating, but the panellist would give you time to calm your nerves. Do not forget to ask basic questions like ” May I come in?”, ” May I sit?” and thank you. Be aware of the time when you greet them. The panel would have five individuals. The Principal would be at the centre, and two panellists each by his side (This might vary with an additional member being there in the panel). One of them would be observing you throughout the interview, observing your posture and responses. After general questions like “why the course?” and “why the college?” The panellist would then move on to questions pertaining to the course. For a Science based course, there are two questions that are always asked, one is a theory-based question and the other an application-based question, Students may be asked to draw graphs or solve questions in front of the panel. For arts, the students may be asked questions on authors or books they might have read or mentioned in their SOP.
  8. If you are a Christian student, be well versed with the Bible. Gather information on various Biblical characters. Know the different books and have a Biblical verse learned already. ” What is your favourite Bible verse?” is a very popular question for Christians.
  9. The panel is clearly aware of your academic potential but is prepared. Honesty is an ultimate if you do not know an answer, a polite ” I am sorry”,” I do not know the answer” or ” I am unable to recall the answer for the time being” would do. Being argumentative with the panel is negative. Humility is highly appreciated, it should not be confused with self-doubt. Be optimistic in your answers. Try to be pleasant with a smile, if you are confident cracking a joke or two won’t do any harm. The panel may ask you questions that might seem confusing. If you do not understand a question, politely ask them to repeat the same. Do not consistently look at the person who has posted the question, you are talking to the whole panel.
  10. Carry a handkerchief, if you are sweaty. do not fidget, try to keep your tone at a moderate volume. Stammering or stuttering is big ‘ NO’. Gather your thoughts, the panel won’t mind a few seconds of silence.
  11. The interview is very haunting at times but does not be disheartened. Students who came out crying (because they thought they underperformed) have been selected. We never know what the panel is looking for. The panel tries to make the selected crowd as diverse as possible so that the students have a great learning experience. It’s completely okay if you are not the state topper or the national topper if you have cleared the cutoff, your chances of getting in are as real as of the others. Remember the selection ratio may be as high as 1: 10, One person selected for every ten individuals interviewed, the competition is there, but you are as good as any other player so relax. If you have any unique quality or talent, you can certainly inform the panel of the same.
  12. As you get out, be aware of the DOORKNOB. Many students lose their cool when they are unable to open the door. It’s just a gentle turn and you are out. A parting smile and a thank you would be a great way to end the session.
  13. You would get many hints as you go through the interview, about whether the panel is pleased or not. Be alert of their reactions.

These are some of the tips that you need to keep in mind. DU beat wishes you all the very best! For any further queries on admissions do not forget to DM us!



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Stephen Mathew

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