Experiences from the Persofest-Stress Interview

Recorded by Vidhyalakshmi M

I stood outside LHC room no 2. Through the crack in the door I could see the previous candidate being grilled by the panel with the most apprehensive look on her face. Finally it was over and she came out and in went I; and stood on the dais. Suddenly someone looks at me and says

J1: “What?”

J2: “What are you doing here? Who are you? Why did you come in?”

Me: “I am here for the stress interview.” (In the meekest voice)

Almost all of them at once: “So you’ll just barge in like that?” “Don’t you know you have to knock? Did you ask permission to enter?”

I am thinking to myself how I could let them take me so easily. I should have obviously knocked and I would have done so in a real interview.

J3: “I want you to go out and knock, ask permission and come in again.

So out I go. Knock on the door and ask

Me: “May I come in?”

J3: “No you may not.” Says J3.

At this point it was pretty obvious that this was the stress part and therefore I realized my mistake and so dint feel bad about how they behaved. I wait for 40 seconds, while they are all casually chatting as though nothing was on their agenda.

J1: “What? Why are you just standing there?

J2: “Won’t you even try asking again?”

Me: “May I come in?” J1 gestures me in the affirmative.

J2: “Where is your ID card?”

I had it in my hand as I knew they would question as to why I was wearing it in an interview or why I wasn’t wearing it when I was inside the campus.

Me: “In my hand”. *I show them*

J2: “Why can’t you wear it?”

Me: “I can” *I wear it*

J2: “You SHOULD!”

Me:*No response*

I was standing in with my hands behind.

J2: “Why are you standing like as though you are in a school assembly?”

I bring my hands to my side.

J2: “Now why are you in attention?”

Me: “I have not joined my legs”. And I indeed hadn’t. I scored a point mentally. And J2 accepts defeat.

J3: “Where is your résumé?”

Me: “I didn’t bring one as we weren’t asked to.”

J3: “So what? Don’t you know this basic thing that when you go for any interview you must have a résumé?”

At this point I totally forgot to mention that we weren’t even told that this round was going to be a stress interview.

J3: “Introduce yourself”.

Me: “Well, I am this person who has been leading a very nomadic life. We always kept moving places…”

*Cut short in the middle*

J1: “Is this how you start. Don’t you have a name or anything?”

Me: “My name is Vidhyalakshmi. I am 21 years old. I am doing 3rd year of ECE. I come from Trichy. And I like reading books and I’m a classical dancer. I also maintain a blog” etc. etc

J1: “What dancer?”

Me: “Bharatanatyam”

J1: “Tell us something about Bharatanatyam”

I proceed to give an elaborate explanation of Bharatanatyam. And somewhere in the middle make the mistake of saying that I am not learning it now/or haven’t danced (Bharatanatyam) in the last 6 years. Immediately someone pounces on it.

J2: “So you cannot handle 2 things at the same time?”

J3: “How can you call it your passion? And then just leave it?”

Me: “No I have plans to continue it after my degree. It’s not possible to go all the way from Chrompet. Most of the teachers are far away.”

J4: “Oh so now you are putting the blame on others.”

Me: “No I have really tried and with labs ending at 4:30, it’s not possible to go”.

J3: “Okay. If we tell you that you will be given the Ms Persofest title if you dance for us would you do it?”

Me: “I wouldn’t mind”.

They ask me to dance and I do a few steps.

Immediately after I finish,

J2: “So you are so cheap that you’ll sell you passion for a title?”

Me: “It is not like that. I would never shy away from an opportunity to perform/do something that I love”.

A bit of argument followed. I don’t know if I convinced them.Somewhere in between I had mentioned that I attend CAT coaching and the next thing they attacked was that. I proceeded to accept that I was doing engineering because after 12th I hadn’t much of an idea and my parents asked me to and I couldn’t go against their wishes.

J2: “What do you really want to become?”

Me: “Clear the UPSC exam and join the services.”

J2: “You know what? You are showing off. First you say I am a dancer, then blogging/writing, CAT coaching, now you say you want to clear UPSC. We really don’t understand. Why do you want to do CAT when you should be attending UPSC coaching?

For this I had my reason ready but if only one person in the panel had listened to it properly. Much of my answering was always amidst a bombardment of questions and not as you read it in this article.

Me: “CAT has quants, data interpretation and other sections similar to the CSAT. After my degree I’ll be preparing for UPSC only.”

J3: “And dance” *all snigger*

J2: “Seriously don’t think this is a stress interview and that’s why we are questioning you like this. This really sounds bad. You are not clear about anything”

I have a weird grimace on my face.

J4: “What? Do we look funny here? What are you smiling at? Stop smiling. You don’t have to pretend to be so cool.”

J2: “What do you really think about engineering?”

J3: “Tell me the difference between a degree and engineering.”

Me: “Umm, an engineering degree is proof that you have completed 4 years of coursework in a particular field.”

J3: “Okay what is engineering then?”

Me: “Engineering is the use of Science to build technology that reaches the masses.”

J2: “Hello we didn’t ask you to give a definition”.

J4: “So finally what are you going to do with your life?”

Me: “Prepare and clear the UPSC”.

J2: “So you have wasted one seat in Anna University. Why waste time doing this degree?”

Me: “Because the basic qualification to appear for it is to have a UG degree”.

J2, J3 and generally all speaking together.

“You could join B.A Literature even”

Me: “It will be a waste of another three years”.

“You should have joined in the beginning itself”

J3: “You know what; she wants to have a back up in life about everything. What if you don’t clear UPSC by the time you’re 30 years?”

Me: “I’d pursue dance”.

J2: “What if no one comes to your classes and you don’t get ANY stage shows?”

Me: “Perhaps freelance writing”

J*: “What if nobody recognizes your work and even that fails?”

Me: “Then I have run out of backups.”

J3: “That’s what we are asking you about. We are finishing your back ups and then what will you do?.”

Somebody replies sarcastically “Oh yeah. What about her degree she has got that no!”

And that topic comes to a thankful end. And some other PDA member walks in signaling to finish the interview.

J4: “Okay, tell us something unique about yourself.”

Me: “Like a talent or quality?”

J4: “Anything you find unique about yourself.

My brain is a little frozen at this point and I am considering answering that I am sort of an all rounder but fear that it would not be received kindly and I reply.

Me: “I have an incredible amount of patience”. (Reflecting now that that was not a very good answer).

J3 looking at J4: “Everybody says the same thing. I am very calm. I don’t get stressed easily.”

J4: “So there is nothing unique?”

Me: “And I can also put myself and think from others point of views. I don’t think that only my opinions are superior to others”.

J2: “So put yourself in our feet and tell us what we think of you now.”

This is a trick question and I think they didn’t realize that it could work both ways.

Me: “To you people I probably appear as a confused person.”

J4: “Very true!”

Mentally I don’t know if I should be happy that I guessed correct as I claimed I could or feel bad about appearing confused.

Me: “Indecisive”.

J2: “Yeah”.

Me: “A know-it-all”.

J2: “No way! If I ask you one technical question you would flip. Don’t think you are a know-it-all.”

Me: “I agree.”

I have actually already forgotten much of it. Somewhere in between I was asked to stop nodding my head and say something. Somewhere I was rebuked for not being loud enough. Whenever I got to speak 4 sentences at the same time I was asked not to lecture. As long as the interview went on I was composed but once I came out of the room I realized that I was not feeling as good as I pretended. It gets to you towards the end. J4 came out when I was picking up my bag to leave and asked me to relax. I met J3 the next day and was asked to not take anything personal and this was how a stress interview had to be.

I do not hold a grudge against any of them but this round certainly pulls your confidence down a little and implants doubts in your mind. Your true competence and able ness comes in getting over it and focusing on the next thing that needs to be done in your life. And my personal opinion is that everybody needs to experience this at least once in their life. Better a mock one at first than one day unexpectedly facing the real thing for the first time.


Recorded by Vidhyalakshmi M

One thought on “Experiences from the Persofest-Stress Interview

  • I am preparing for my SSB interview and after reading your interview, i have decided to go for few mock sessions otherwise i would surrender in front of interview board.Thanks for sharing.

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