Want to ace the interview and get the interviewers’ attention? Does the mere thought of participating in an interview make you break out in a cold sweat? As a UCSI Trust Scholarship recipient who has gone through the interview process, I would like to share a few useful tips that I find helpful.
First and foremost, do your homework. In this context, do research and look up as much information as possible. Knowing my interviewer’s basic profile helped boost my self-esteem and confidence. Before I attended the interview, I checked out the UCSI website, social media sites including Instagram, Facebook and the UCSI confession Facebook page. I did research on the management board, the history of UCSI, especially information about my selected course. Besides, I got myself familiar with the map of UCSI, especially with all the academic blocks. Watching a few YouTube videos uploaded by UCSI helped me a lot in discovering its “culture” too. Going in blind for an interview is the biggest blunt and blunder mistake ever because your interviewer would expect you to come in with knowledge about the programme and thus prove to the interviewers that you are worth it. So, you must successfully show them you are serious about the scholarship and have a solid idea of how it would benefit not only yourself but also what can you do for the university and society as a university student.
Next, be prepared. There are a lot of websites: “Most common interview questions and answers”, “Interview Tips” on the Internet to help you. With just one click, you will know the perfect answer for the most common question: “Tell me about yourself.” For this, do not repeat what you have written on the application form. You have to be smart in responding to the question as it is the first question where you can impress and get the interviewers’ attention. It makes them decide whether to be interested in investing in you or not. Start with an important fun fact about yourself so that the interviewers will be interested to know more about you. If you prepare properly, there is no reason for you to dread this question. Hence, this question is an opportunity for you to set the tone of the scholarship interview and emphasise why you are applying for the scholarship. Do remember, do not waste this opportunity by simply giving a long recitation of your scholarship application form.
Furthermore, dress to impress. All interviews are formal situations. Following the appropriate dress code is the most important thing to show your respect and sincerity towards the interviewers. A clean and neat professional appearance is an important step to make a good impression. Although you may be most comfortable in jeans and short skirt, kindly remember this is not the appropriate time to dress down. You need to show to the interviewers you are a serious student and you are prepared to be challenged. And you want your interviewer to focus on you and your skills, not your clothes. Your attire should be business and formal, such as slacks and buttoned-down collared shirt or a knee-length skirt or dress. For girls, do remember to tie your hair and put it in a bun if possible. Your hair should be neat and out of your face. When you feel good about the way you look, it naturally conveys your self-confidence and a positive attitude. Do not forget to bring some mouth freshener mints too. Nothing kills an interview quicker than bad breath!
Think before you speak. For this, take some time to be mindful. An interview is a crucial part of the scholarship application process that gives the applicants a chance to talk about themselves to allow interviewers to get to know their personalities and why they would most benefit from the programme. The interviewers are not out to get you but in fact to know you better and ascertain that you deserve the scholarship. It is important to listen during the interview. Once a question is asked, respond concisely. Stay on the topic and do not ramble. As with any interview question asked, the key to crafting an impressive answer is understanding why people are asking in the first place. When the interviewer asks the question: “What are your weaknesses?”, they expect to know how you overcome your weaknesses and how you manage to utilise and transform your weaknesses into your strengths. For instance, I would like to answer in the way of: “I cannot focus on completing one task. I am a multi-tasker in the sense that I am weak in putting all my attention in completing one task.” Thus, this answer depicts you are smart enough to cover and manage your weakness.
To me, the hardest question in the interview would be: “Why do you deserve this scholarship?” Think about this question deeply. Do you deserve this scholarship or do you need it? There are a lot of applicants who need the scholarship but not many of them really deserve it. You do not deserve this scholarship just because you have a high CGPA, you want to reduce your family financial burden, you are poor or because you would not achieve your dream if you did not get it. All these reasons will make you fail in responding to this question. However, you deserve the scholarship because of your skills, attitudes and accomplishments that have made you who you are today and what you want to become in the future. Explain and show the interviewer that you know there are plenty of applicants who are deserving but your unique experience is the indicator to future success and receiving the scholarship will open the another door of opportunity. You have to understand that giving scholarships is like investing a lot of money and that’s the reason you have to prove to the interviewers that giving you the scholarship is the right decision.
In my opinion, the dominant key to ace in an interview is the attitude of the applicant. You should be humble. Humble is a moral. There are a lot of applicants that have same qualifications as you with good results and same family background. Even if you think you are the best, there is always someone better. Thus, be humble during the interview and know that we still need to keep on learning.
Don’t discount the importance of being humble. There is a value there far greater than pride can ever provide.Kristen Butler
Then, be yourself. Walk into your interview with confidence, smile and be yourself. Do remember you have worked hard to get there. The last thing you can do is enjoy the moment. It is hard for us to judge whether it was a successful interview or not, but the only thing you can do is not have regrets. Give your utmost effort and pat yourself on the back for the great job in showing who you are. Good luck and have fun!