Monday, August 17, 2015

Of interviews and its preparations


A few hours ago some of my students texted me for tips for their mock interview tomorrow. One thing i respect about MRSM is that they treat their students fairly well with the respectfully amount of adult-like treatment they should be receiving. The system itself prepares the kids before they enter their university life, and that is what all schools should be doing to prepare their students.

Honestly i don't know kind of pointers you kids are looking for as i'm not sure myself what kind of interview the whole program is about. I've never been through any mock interviews, only real ones so far. Haha. So here are a few tips that i picked up from my experience, and from my dad.

1. PREPARING BEFOREHAND

Prepare yourself mentally and physically for the interview. Prepare your mind with the possible questions the panels might be asking you. For example, if it is an interview to pursue your studies, be sure that you know the field of study you're venturing in inside and out. Be sure to look ahead, and not just some typical questions people ask.

Other than that, make sure you've prepared all the documents, certificates, or even CV's if necessary in a clear file folder. Arrange them in order, eg; CV, SPM certs, sijil berhenti sekolah, sijil koko, etc etc. Make the file presentable. If you have a hard cover file from your former school, use that. Make sure that it is presentable so that you wont make a fool out of yourself.

Lay out your outfit the night before. Don't even try to go and iron your outfit at the very last minute. Either you'll end up burning your shirt or having a bad tudung day (been there, done that). Make sure to pick out the best outfit you have. Make sure that whatever you wear makes you feel confident and comfortable of yourself. What you wear is the number one impression the panels will have on you. Either you wear something dull or colorful, whether your tie matches your shirt, or your tudung matches your skirt. Wear comfortable shoes. If you're not comfortable in wearing high heels, don't try. For the boys, bring a briefcase/any bag that seems professional. And for the girls, do not bring in your purse. If you have a handbag, bring that instead. You don't want to be having too many things in your hands at the same time. Oh and do not over do your make up. Keep it simple.

2. BEFORE ENTERING THE ROOM

If it is an individual interview, be sure to do anything to keep yourself calm. If talking to yourself helps, so be it. During the time given to prepare/quarantined/wait, just breathe and dont freak out. No matter how nervous you are, don't show that you are panicking. Keep the impression that you are a very professional individual, here to rock the panels' socks out. Be confident and keep it cool.

If it is a group interview, be nice. Smile and talk to everyone. If nobody is talking, either break the silence or keep it to yourself. This also depends, if the time given to wait before entering the room is where you aren't supposed to talk, then dont. Follow every instructions given. If you are supposed to talk, talk. If you're not, shut it. Remember, as long as you stay confident, you are coming out as a very daring tiger. But if you stay passive and scared, you are coming out as a half dead duck. I'm serious.

3. DURING THE INTERVIEW

Knock, and give salam as you enter the room. Smile. Don't forget to smile. Engage with every panel there is, with eye contact of course. Be sure that each and every panel acknowledge your presence. Smile and take your seat. If it is not assigned, just sit anywhere you can. If it is, be sure to follow the instructions.

Wait for the panels to talk and ask. Do not cut them in the middle of whatever they are saying. Take about 15 seconds max to really analyze and sink in whatever the panels ask you. For example, if they ask you to tell them about yourself, be sure to not answer it with the typical "my name, i'm from, i scored..." that's honestly boring and they can read that in your profile. Tell them what is not in the profile. Whatever you're good at, whatever you think the panels should know, etc etc. But if they specifically ask you to tell them, "your name, where were you from, what did you study" etc etc, answer exactly what they ask for and DO NOT DRAG.

If it is a group interview, be the first one to answer. Raise your hand and smile. Remember that you aren't the only one that wants to talk. There is a time limit for each session. So make sure whatever that comes out from your mouth is what the panels want to hear instead of blabbering and dragging the session. Respect your group mates when they are answering. Do not cut in.

If it is an individual interview, be sure to smile and answer it with confidence. Do not show any signs of nervousness or even doubt. Just be confident with whatever you say. The panels will know whether you're making it up or you're really telling the truth. So if it is a lie, be sure to be confident with that lie. Hiks.

4. AFTER THE INTERVIEW

As soon as they say that we're done for the day, smile and thank each and every one of the panels. Smile. Eye contact. Smile. Shake hands if they are within your reach. If not, be sure to smile and nod before you leave the room. Be brave enough to make remarks such as, "i hope to be in your class this September" (example)

After leaving the room, be sure to take your belongings with you and don't be an asshole and freak your friends out that are still waiting for their turns. Be professional and wish them goodluck.

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The duration of waiting for the results is the most hardest and nerve wrecking part, i know. I've been in both group and individual interviews. And alhamdulillah both went pretty well for someone that lacks of experience.

The individual interview i went to was the Yayasan Tenaga Nasional Scholarship interview at UNITEN Kajang last year. I went with literally no preparations, just my suitcase and my sister's high heels. The panels were really nice, and i still keep in touch with the program coordinator, En Atrash. He was still bummed that i rejected the offer, but hey look at me now En Atrash. Hihi. Needless to say, the interview was pretty smooth. They asked me to introduce myself, tell them who was my biggest inspiration, what my parents do for a living, etc. Just basic questions to get to know me and to know whether i could talk or not. Really, interviews are about knowing whether are you as good as you are on paper or not. Whether you can answer questions on the spot or would it take you awhile to sink it in.

The interview went personally well because i believe that what i answered was what they wasn't expecting. Mind you, i was the first candidate of the day. If i'm not mistaken, the question was something about telling them the hardest challenge i've faced in high school. I cant remember exactly what i answered, but i sure remember telling them about having my parents as my backbone and as my number one supporter. I told them some pretty touching things that made two of the panels smile. Not just any ordinary smile. That smile you see when you know you've made someone proud. (cey)

The group interview on the other hand was the degree intake for Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia at Alor Setar last May. This interview, i came very well prepared. ((picture above was taken after the interview)) Having no idea what to anticipate, i studied everything i learnt in asasi, i went through some current issues and i also did some exercises with my dad. I ended up going into the room with five other matriculation and STPM candidates. None of them with law basics, so the questions were pretty straight forward. One of the questions got my attention, it was, "tell us why we SHOULDNT take you as our student" and right at that moment i knew, it was a trap question. Its the matter of how you answer it. There are no rights and wrongs in an interview. There are just confidence and the matter of how you sell yourself to the panels.

Wanna know what i answered? Hihi not telling. Ask me personally and i might consider to tell you. Not to boast, but it was pretty out of the box answer. My dad had experience interviewing candidates to job posts and he said that it is the kind of answer panels are looking for. Imagine having to pick out only 100 out of 5000 candidates they call out for the interview? Do you think a typical answer would suffice?

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I hope this post helps. Sorry for posting it at 4:30AM, but i hope you have the time to read it before your interview later today. Hihi goodluck!!


P/S: My little brother is sitting for his PT3 trials today. Do pray for him! :)

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