The DSA Interview –a very early interview experience in one’s developmental path, but it can be a very positive learning experience that sets students up for success in the future. If the DSA route is something that you feel is suitable for you, mastering the interview is a good life skill that can become a very solid stepping stone for more pivotal moments in the future. Regardless of the outcome of the DSA Interview, the experience of facing strangers and talking about yourself is one that can be very enriching.
In order to be better prepared for the DSA Interview, many parents and students ask two key questions. “What kind of questions are expected?” and “Is it different for different talent areas?”.
What kind of questions are expected in the DSA Interview?
Let’s take a look at the first question – what kind of questions do we expect at the DSA Interview. While the range of questions can be wide, they essentially fall into a few key categories.
Who are you?
These questions are designed to obtain an overall impression of who you are. This is where interviewers try to formulate adjectives to describe you by using your answers. Are you cheerful, hardworking, curious, friendly, easygoing, determined etc?
Tell me about yourself
What do you enjoy doing with your family in your free time?
What has your primary school experience been like?
Understanding your primary school experience provides the interviewers with an insight into your attitude towards learning and the rigor of school. Questions may also be targeted towards experiences you may have had in school activities including your CCAs, school projects, community service etc
Do you enjoy school?
What do you like and dislike about your CCA?
Are you interested in the school you are applying to?
It is very important to remember that the student’s interest in the school is paramount. With a limited number of vacancies for DSA applicants, each school is not only looking for a student who is a good learner, and has an overall positive personality and mindset, but also someone who wants to be part of their school community. Many students are not prepared for this question category thinking that it's only important to talk about their talents and aptitude. Something we need to bear in mind is if a school has many applicants who are all equally as good, would the school prefer a student who actually wants to be a part of their community or someone who is detached and indifferent?
Why do you wish to join us?
What do you know about our school?
What is your behavior like?
Questions on behavior is a tool used by interviewers to attempt looking into the crystal ball and predicting what you are like in the future. The only way to do that is by asking you questions on your behavior and trying to understand your thoughts on certain situations or your reaction to certain factors.
What makes you stressed?
How do you handle negative feedback?
How self-aware are you?
Self-awareness is a critical factor that can really provide interviewers with an insight into your level of maturity, ability to face challenges, and readiness for adapting to new environments.
Tell us what has been your greatest challenge
What to you is an important value?
Are questions different for different talent areas?
In general, the questions that were discussed in the section above apply to all applicants regardless of which talent area you are applying for. In addition to the general questions above, talent area specific questions are also posed, and this is where there is a very wide range of possible questions, depending on the school and the talent area chosen. The key purpose of the questions is threefold:
Is your interest in the talent area intrinsic?
Will you continue to be motivated to excel in this talent area?
Do you have knowledge or skill that is above and beyond average?
Here are some examples:
Academic – Language/Bilinguilism
What do you think makes a good piece of literary work?
How would you encourage your friends to use the language more?
Is bilingualism a talent?
Academic – Science/Math
What do you find fascinating about Science/Math?
What is your favorite science topic / math theorem?
How would you deal with conflict in your team?
What community problems would you like to solve?
What has been your greatest challenge in the sport?
Training in this sport is very time consuming. How are you handling the commitment?
Music/Performance Arts/Creative Arts
What inspires your creativity in this area?
What genre are you most interested in?
Knowledge of the questions is very helpful to the candidate as it does help to provide early formulation of strategy and confidence in answering questions. However, it is important to recognize that an interview is not about memorizing answers or providing a regurgitation of a perfect answer. It is about the ability of the candidate to communicate persuasively, and confidently with another person, and be able to stay calm and true to themselves.
Exposure to many different question types, lots of practice and a development of the fundamental skill of communication is key. Building up the ability to authentically convey their thoughts, experiences, stories and aspirations is a skill that will be very fundamental for their future careers and a life skill that can open many doors.
Written by Siew Ling Hwang, Founder, Discovering Potential Pte Ltd
Siew Ling is the founder of Discovering Potential and she specialises in providing Interview Skills Coaching and Communication Skills Coaching to youths and adults. Her experience includes both 1-on-1 coaching and workshop coaching for clients that come from a wide range of industries and age groups. Siew Ling coaches students for their Primary 6 and JC DSA interviews as well as university entrance interviews in many areas including medicine, dentistry, physiotherapy, law, business, accounting, renaissance engineering and more for both local Singapore universities and overseas universities. She has also coached students for internship opportunities in several of the large consulting firms and financial institutions, as well as scholarship interviews including PSC scholarships, SAF scholarships, MOH scholarships, MOE scholarships and others.
In 2022, the candidates that Siew Ling coached have received confirmed DSA P6 offers for the following schools:
RI, RGS, HCI, NYGH, MGS, SCGS, NUSH, Dunman High, St Nicholas Girls, SOTA, NJC, Nan Hua, Temasek Sec, Victoria School, Singapore Sports School as well as entrance into international schools including SJII, ACSI and HCI.
Her 5 star Google reviews can be seen on the homepage www.discoveringpotential.com.sg