My first interview experience.
This year's Yayasan Tenaga Nasional (YTN) scholarship interview was held at RHR Hotel @ UNITEN. Before I got shortlisted for the interview, I had filled in an online application form for the scholarship. In it, I ticked all the financial aid options available under YTN except for the convertible loan(PBU) for bachelor's degree, i.e. Convertible loan, Local scholarship, and Overseas scholarship for foundation studies. I was able to pick Computer Science as my course of interest for the convertible loan but as for the other two, I had no choice but to pick Electrical Power Engineering as my course of interest as that option was the only appealing one to me compared to the other options available in the dropdown list.
I got an email and an SMS from YTN about a week later stating that I have been shortlisted for an interview. I was jubilant to see it, but that feeling was only short-lived when I realized it was an interview, a freakin' interview, right. This was followed by sleepless nights thinking about how I am going to ace my interview. I am a bundle of nerves when it comes to something based so much on communication and interaction.
Hence, the day came, 22nd of March. I woke up in the morning having mixed feelings, I felt excited as I'll be travelling to the hotel on my own, a little nervous and a little hopeless as I had not prepped much for the interview. I dropped by my school on the way to get yet another document certified. Once that was done, I was en route straight for RHR Hotel.
Bus, train, interchange, train, cab, hotel.
Thank God there was not much walking to do. I reached the hotel about an hour early, the afternoon session was due to start at 2.00 pm. I waited at the lobby and at the meantime, I read through my personal statements I had in my phone, ones which I had prepared as essays for other scholarship applications. I also looked around the lobby to see other shortlisted applicants arrive, all dressed smartly, they got me worrying a little as they all looked brilliant and confident. I tried to maintain my calm.
At sharp 2pm, the afternoon session commenced. We were told to register ourselves according to the group we were grouped in. In all, there were 5 groups, A,B,C,D and E. I was in group A together with 3 other guys. Group A was all who had applied and got shortlisted for EE.
After having registered, I was directed to a room where the others were in. While awaiting the presenter, I chatted with a girl beside me who had applied for Civil Engineering. She was from Kolej Tunku Kurshiah :O .
The presenter then comes in and give us some briefing about what YTN is and all the scholarship and sponsorship programmes under YTN. She explains to us in quite a detailed manner about the overseas programme which all the applicants in the room had applied and got shortlisted for. She mentioned that the countries which YTN sponsors their scholars to are Canada, USA, UK, Australia and Turkey.
After the briefing, we were asked to answer a sheet of paper which beared 10 questions that asked all about ourselves. We were given 10 minutes to complete the paper. It asked questions like 'What did you like doing as a child?', 'What is your favorite pastime activity now?', 'What was your favorite subject in school?' and 'Who is you role model?'.
We were subsequently led to a hallway with rooms on both sides all along. I waited at a hall nearby while waiting for my turn to get interviewed. I did manage to chat a little with two other girls waiting in the hall before my turn was up.
The moment was here. I braced myself and recited a Hail Mary before entering the interview room.
I greeted the panel. The panel comprised of three interviewers, two females and one male. I handed my documents to one of the female interviewer and took my seat. My first question was 'Tell me about yourself'. Typical. I introduced myself and told them about my interests. They held me tounge-tied the moment I mentioned that I was very passionate about coding. They told me I am better off taking Computer Science and not Electrical Engineering then. I tried my best to convince the panel that I was ABSOLUTELY OK with EE too as it had to do with fuzzy logic and a little knowledge in CS there and there. I also tried to persuade them into thinking that EE was my backup plan and that I would receive EE with open arms and strive to excel in it just as much as how I would do in CS. They told me that YTN wouldn't want to sponsor a scholar just to see him/her get bored halfway in their course. They want ones who are passionate about what they're going to do. I gulped that moment where they were vehemently disapproving my idea of pursuing EE. They knew me to well that I was more inclined to CS. So then I decided to be more honest and tell them that though I was more inclined to CS, I am also willing to take any other course as what matters most to me now is that I get proper funding for my studies. I made much effort to put more emphasis on the fact that I am in desperate need of financial aid. At that point, the main interviewer having understood that I was in quite a financial turmoil said rather vaguely that I would be enlisted for the local scholarship for my Foundation studies in CS @ UNITEN. I nodded and said that I would truly appreciate that.
note: always be honest in an interview.
The panel proceeded to question me more about my background after coming to know about my mother, in her letter bearing the the signature from a commissioner of oath, that she is a single mother and the family's sole bread winner. The panel genuinely sympathized with me and went on further to question me about my family and financial background. Easy. I know my background so well. I also liked how the panel was so engaged and empathizing. I rambled, yadayadayada.
The panel made it clear to me that they will be enlisting me for the local scholarship but that I would have to still hope and pray that the board approves of it.
I was really happy. 80% of the questions were about me and my family. Phew, that was easy.
I am really, really hoping on this scholarship. UNITEN, Foundation in CS, full scholarship, all I've ever wanted. :')
Please God, please...