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Published by Afterschool.my on Feb 27, 2020, 10:16 am
Perhaps you applied to Universiti Teknologi Petronas and may have to pass an interview, which won’t be too far away. Maybe there’s a scholarship that you’re in the running for, and have great grades, even better co-curriculum participatory marks, but even the mention of the word 'interview' send you cowering under a table for cover out of fear. If any of the above even vaguely describes you or a friend you know, then please continue reading as we divulge secrets that everyone should know about nailing every single interview you go for, passed down from the ancestors of Afterschool!
During the interview, you may have high expectations and uncertainty. It’s better to be yourself than pretending to be somebody you’re not.
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You’re there early, all dressed up for your interview (which usually happens), and then someone sitting next to you tells you that if you fail at the interview stage, your application will be rejected (which is true). Then your palms become sweaty, knees become weak, arms become heavy. The only thing bigger than your growing fear is the sweat stain underneath your armpit.
Relax, take deep breaths, and just be yourself. Be confident and just show the interviewers the real you. We aren’t saying don’t prepare, but it helps to be the best you can be, instead of trying to be someone you’re not. You’ll tend to relax a little more if you aren’t pretending and your attention is fully focused on the room and on the people in it, instead of drifting off somewhere else, trying to recall a line you memorised to impress the interviewers. Prepare, but remember to be yourself.
You can keep in touch with current affairs by reading newspapers or even reading newsmagazines like TIME.
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No, you don’t have to order an encyclopedia online just prior to the interview to be up-to-date. What you can do instead is read magazines such as TIME and Forbes as well as the newspaper (from the front page of course, not the back). Keep abreast with all the latest developments and know how in the fields of technology, education, and other topics are closely related to the course you intend to pursue. The topics we are referring to are those that are relevant of course. Odds are, the interviewers won’t want to know about Paul Pogba’s new haircut.
When searching for the questions, don’t over-prepare and let it come to you naturally. Just be insightful when answering them.
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We know we said to be yourself in point one but this does not mean you shouldn’t prepare at all. There are some obvious questions in many interviews that are common, which you could ponder. Again, when thinking of answers to these questions, do not pretend to make up answers and be someone else. Do not over-prepare and Google more questions and instantly answer every interviewer, sometimes even before they can finish their questions. They will see both of the above as fake, and it may deprive you of a scholarship. This is just to help you prepare real life examples that you may otherwise have not thought of. Here are some common questions:
What is your biggest strength?
This may seem simple enough. Sure you have many strengths, so many in fact that you would list them all down to the interviewers and confidently wait for their follow-up questions, which will probably be, ‘Can you tell us an example of when you displayed these strengths?’, which will reduce you to a blabbering, sweaty mess once again. Remember, when you do tell them what your biggest strength is, always give an example in which you displayed this trait convincingly.
What is your biggest weakness?
Pro tip: The answer to this question is NEVER ‘I work too hard’. While it may seem funny, some students actually say this and follow it up with examples of how they actually do work too hard. However, this is neither the answer nor the example they will be looking for. This isn’t a trick question. Everyone has weaknesses, you, dear reader, myself, and even Bill Gates. What the interviewers will look for, is someone who is sharp enough to identify his/her weakness, honest enough to admit it to someone else, and willing to improve on it.
Why are you interested in this course and why?
Stating that you are interested in the course because your parents told you to apply for it will not take you anywhere. Interviewers will look for interviewees who are passionate in the field they applied for, who has the drive to break through barriers in the course they want to pursue, enough to overcome obstacles along the way. Read on your course, the specific university you want to do it at, and why.
Who is your hero/role model?
Answering 'Cristiano Ronaldo', because his hair looks/looked cool, is not cool. Remember that when they ask you questions like this, whoever you choose and the reason behind it is a reflection of yourself and who you aspire to be. Be insightful when answering. Even stating someone like Mark Zuckerberg, creator and co-founder of Facebook, would be a bad answer if you don’t have a good reason other than ‘He’s rich’. If you were to still answer Cristiano Ronaldo, but then went on to highlight his determination and discipline in striving for success even when he was living in extremely poor conditions, never stopping until he reached the top, and even then, maintained the same, if not higher level of determination and discipline every single day, then you would have a good answer. However, it always helps to use someone who is related to the field you intend to choose/have chosen. If cool hair is the only thing you aspire to possess, then odds are, while you may eventually have it, the scholarship may just slip through your fingers (too much shampoo on your hands after all).
Why should you get the scholarship? / Why do you stand out?
Remember: You are in the midst of those who were narrowed down. All these students probably have equally good, if not better examination results than you. You need to think about why you stand out, what makes you special and why they should give you the scholarship. Don’t lie or exaggerate anything, but think about what really puts you in a different league. Whatever your answer may be, make sure to back it up with examples.
Make sure you dress neatly in business attire to ensure the interviewer(s) know that you are serious about getting this job.
Image via slideshare.net by Margaret Lakra
No, you don’t have to rent an Armani tuxedo for the interview. But what you do have to be is neat and tidy. Make sure you wear clean clothes that are presentable (no jeans or New Balance sneakers please, not until you’ve become as rich as Steve Jobs). You need to demonstrate to the scholarship committee that you are a serious student and that you are honoured to be in the running. Be sure to dress to impress, which means business attire, such as slacks and a buttoned-down collared shirt, or a knee-length skirt or dress. Hair should be neat and out of your face. Make sure all your clothes are ironed, your nails cut, your hair tidy, your shoes shiny, at least two days before the interview. Why two days? Well, this is to prevent you from running around your house screaming and asking your mum where the nail clipper/shoe polish is, or driving around looking for a barber open after 11.00pm (hint: there probably isn’t). All this brings us to our next point, which is…
Prepare everything the night before and don’t burn the midnight oil.
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As mentioned above, prepare everything, yourself included, earlier. Do not leave anything till the last minute. Sleep early and wake up early. Leave extra early on the day as well, so that if there is a traffic jam or congestion of any kind, your time allowance can afford it. It is better to be there one hour early than even a minute late. If you didn’t get the theme of this point, it is: early, early, early and early!
If you are naturally shy and quiet then you need to train yourself by having a mock interview with your family members or even your friends.
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This may be particularly difficult for many of you who are silent and quiet. You’re nervous, so naturally, you will be quiet and appear rather scared or dull to the interviewers. If this is you, then train by talking to someone. Perhaps parents, teachers, friends, whoever it is. Some may laugh at you, but the training is essential. Body language is one of the pillars that make a good interview. Maintaining eye contact, firm handshakes, keeping your shoulders from slumping and ensuring your back is erect are all facets of good body language, something you must master to nail a proper interview.
Honesty is the best policy when answering interview questions. It would help a lot if you could just be yourself.
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Now, before you run off screaming, ‘Don’t you proof-read your articles, Afterschool? You already mentioned this as point number one!’ We know. This was intentional, done to highlight just how important it really is. The interviewers have probably interviewed hundreds, if not thousands of candidates in the years prior. Trust us when we tell you that they can smell someone pretending and lying a mile off, no matter how much cologne you spray. As we said, be honest. We would advise you, in thinking of answers to common questions, to not fully construct and then memorise answers beforehand, but rather just think of the answer and an example, nothing more. Let the connecting words flow out naturally on the day, and if you answered honestly, it will. In short, appear smart and sharp, and don’t be a slacker. Above all, just be yourself (unless you’re a slacker). Oh, and if you don’t believe us, then maybe Will Smith's gif might convince you.