How do you think you performed for your interview, and why?

I think I performed pretty well for my interview, I mean, I made it to SMU after all!

Joke aside, I actually wasn’t sure how I performed. During my interview, I made an offhand joke about Caucasian men, and one of the interviewing professors happened to be a Caucasian man. There was complete silence immediately after I made the joke and my heart sank. I thought that I might have offended the professor in the room and that I had messed up my chances at getting a place in SMU. To my immense relief, both the interviewing professors broke into laughter and took kindly to my little joke. On hindsight, that might have been something that helped me stand out – but I would recommend against making potentially sensitive or offensive jokes on purpose!


What do you think is SMU’s purpose in conducting interviews with prospective students?

I think the interviews help SMU identify students with strong convictions who are willing to take a stand and explain their decisions, and who are capable of analysing new information quickly. The interviews are also a good predictor of how well a prospective student will fit in with the SMU culture and environment.

From a prospective student’s perspective, the interview is a good chance for them to experience a taste of SMU, and gives them a chance to assess their fit with the school.

The interview is also a good opportunity for prospective students to differentiate themselves. I think prospective students should be willing to question convention and engage their peers in discussion when they disagree on something, instead of simply going with the flow. This will definitely help them stand out from their peers.

Prospective students can also easily build up their general knowledge by keeping up-to-date with current events, which will help inform their opinions and provide better basis for their discussions.

Most of all, I think prospective students who develop their ability to think on their feet and think critically will stand out during the interview.


What do you think a prospective student can do to set him/herself apart during the SOSS interview?

I think one of the things that will help set you apart during an SOSS interview is your ability to offer different views and analyse issues from multiple perspectives.

For example, I was asked quite a general question that could be answered by anyone who has a fair amount of general knowledge: to share my opinions on the White-Industrial Saviour Complex, which refers to the occurrence of white-skinned men travelling long and far to solve the problems of coloured skin people.

The question encouraged lively discussion as it was quite open-ended and we (the prospective students) could approach it from different angles.

In general, prospective students should expect general questions about current affairs as well as social issues. The questions that my friends and I got during our interviews were general questions that sought our opinions, rather than testing our technical knowledge.


Can you share 3 tips for prospective students preparing for their SOSS interview?

Firstly, read up on current affairs and general knowledge.
Secondly, keep an open mind about social issues and develop opinions about them. Think about the different stands that you could take and your reasons for supporting those views.
Thirdly, be ready to think on your feet and be prepared for anything!


Any fun facts or quirks you’ve noticed about SMU students, now that you are one yourself?

One thing I’d heard about SMU before I became a student was that you have to dress very nicely when you come to school for classes because SMU is located in the heart of town. This is not true and most students dress comfortably and casually. In general, SMU students don’t dress to the nines, but we do dress appropriately (and comfortably) as a form of respect to our professors.

Wong Zheng Xiang Shawn, Year 2
School of Social Sciences
Bachelor of Social Science
SMUSAIC, Vice President; SMU Ultimate; SMU Caretalyst
Meridian Junior College